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Nova Scotia-born conductor Martin MacDonald wins Ontario Heinz Unger Award

By John Terauds on December 9, 2013

Martin MacDonald leading a Windsor Symphony concert earlier this year (Dan Janisse/Windsor Star photo).
Martin MacDonald leading a Windsor Symphony concert earlier this year (Dan Janisse/Windsor Star photo).

The Ontario Arts Council has awarded its biennial Heinz Unger Award to Nova Scotia native Martin MacDonald, whose main concert activity over the past five years has been with Symphony Nova Scotia.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

The award, which is meant to help out conductors near the start of the their careers, “recognizes talent and promise, musicianship, and commitment to Canadian repertoire and Canadian musicians.”

In Ontario, MacDonald has conducted the National Academy Orchestra as well as the Hamilton Philharmonic, Thunder Bay Symphony, Orchestra London and the Windsor Symphony. He is scheduled to conduct the National Arts Centre Orchestra this season. He lives in Toronto.

According to the Ontario Arts Council’s press information, the jury unanimously selected MacDonald for this year’s award. “Martin shows the same dedication to excellent music-making that Heinz Unger did,” they noted. “He is very committed to Canadian music, to his audience and to his musicians. His career is on an upward trajectory.”

MacDonald, who originally trained as a cellist at Memorial University, also has a conducting degree from McGill University.

Unger was a German conductor who made his début with the Toronto Symphony in 1937. He moved to Toronto after World War II and became an influential musical figure in the city as well as nationally, through his work with the CBC Radio Orchestra. He died in 1965, and the award was set up two years later.

You can read all the details here.

Here is a clip of MacDonald at work with Symphony Nova Scotia and Toronto Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Crow two years ago:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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