Toronto-based composer Alexina Louie is the arts winner of this year’s $50,000 Molson Prize, awarded and administered by the Canada Council.
The prize comes with the substantial sum of $50,000, and recognition to match.
For over 40 years, Louie has worked tirelessly to push the creative boundaries of contemporary music and opera. As one of Canada’s most prolific composers, her work has become standard repertoire, particularly her piano works such as Scenes From A Jade Terrace, commissioned by Jon Kimura Parker.
Louie has won the JUNO Award for Best Classical Composition twice. She has also received the National Arts Centre Composers Award, the Jules Léger Prize (chamber music), the Chalmers Award (musical composition), and the Lou Applebaum Award for Excellence in Film Music Composition. In 2002, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The Canada Council press release included this mini Q&A with Louie:
What inspires you in your art practice?
For me, composing is an act of self-expression, and a means of communication. My music is the product of years of disparate artistic, cultural, and musical experiences—playing cocktail music in Vancouver hotels as a university student, teaching piano students, watching Japanese samurai films, and following the Chinese Lion dance with its drums, gongs, and firecrackers every Chinese New Year with my family.
What are you most proud of in your artistic career?
I’m proud of my large catalogue of wildly diverse compositions. They include pedagogical piano pieces for children, a full-length main stage opera, my “ground-breaking” comedic five-minute made-for-TV operas (created with my collaborators, director Larry Weinstein and librettist Dan Redican), and more unconventional, leading-edge compositions.
Which work by another artist would you like to have created and why?
I find the skill and artistry in Bernini’s sculpture of Apollo and Daphne truly inspiring. Bernini captures the very moment when Daphne is transforming into a laurel tree. The most impressive element is how he was able to convey motion in stone. Standing before these sculptures is a breathtaking experience.