The Azrieli Foundation has announced the third component of the Azrieli Music Prize (AMP). With a value of $50,000, the prize is dedicated to the commission of a Canadian orchestral work.
In addition to the monetary prize of a concert for the world premiere of the work, the laureate will receive a professional recording on the Analekta label as well as promotional campaigns. The winning composition will also be presented abroad. In total, the prize is valued at $200,000, making this the most significant composition prize in Canada. The premiere will take place in October 2020 in Montréal, performed by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne under the direction of Lorraine Vaillancourt.
The announcement was made by Dr. Sharon Azrieli during the AMP gala that was held last night at the Maison Symphonique. This concert was the setting for the premiere of works by the last two winners of the Azrieli Music Prize, Kelly-Marie Murphy (Canada) and Avner Dorman (Israel). Their pieces, En el escuro es todo uno (In the Darkness All is One) for orchestra, harp, and cello, and Nigunim for violin and orchestra, were performed by the McGill Chamber Orchestra, directed by Yoav Talmi. Guest soloists included Erica Goodman (harp), Rachel Mercer (cello), and Lara St. John (violin).
In the service of music
A few weeks ago, we got the chance to meet Sharon Azrieli, soprano, doctor of music, and musical patron of the Azrieli Foundation, her family’s philanthropic organization. Originally educated in art history, she attended the Juilliard School of Music and pursued a career in opera before having her two children. She then became the first female cantor in a Montréal synagogue. Finally, she completed a master’s degree and a doctorate in music at the Université de Montréal, where she did her thesis on Jewish motifs in the works of Verdi. Most recently, she took up opera once more to sing a small role (Sister Dolcina) at the upcoming Metropolitan Opera production of Suor Angelica.
“My research demonstrated that Verdi, who lived with a Jewish family during his schooling, borrowed Jewish musical elements, which I recognized thanks to my knowledge of Jewish music, especially as part of my work as a cantor,” said Azrieli.
This passion for Jewish music inspired her desire to create the first Azrieli Music Prize, which came into existence in 2014. The first winners were Brian Current (Canada) and Wlad Marhulets (USA).
“I wanted to promote music as part of the Foundation. We’ve thus engaged in a great reflection on what Jewish music is. Now, we’re adding a third prize, for Canadian music. This is more difficult to define than is Jewish music, due to the history of the country and the different cultures and peoples who have inhabited it. The definition of Canadian music is not as clear as that of Jewish music. So many things can reflect Canada.” – Dr Sharon Azrieli
The jury of this new prize will be pan-Canadian and consist of five members: Ana Sokolovic, Barbara Croall, Mary Ingraham, David Pay, and Andrew Staniland. The call to composers will be launched in February 2019. Criteria for composers’ participation will be available on the Azrieli Foundation’s website. We’re betting ((or: You can bet)) that this new prize will be as successful with composers as the prize for Jewish music, which received 90 submissions.
This article first appeared in French, on Ludwig van Montreal.