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THE SCOOP | Four Azrieli 2024 Music Prize Laureates Named

By Anya Wassenberg on November 2, 2023

L-R: Jordan Nobles, Josef Bardanashvili, Juan Trigos, Yair Klartag (Photos courtesy of the Azrieli Foundation)
L-R: Jordan Nobles, Josef Bardanashvili, Juan Trigos, Yair Klartag (Photos courtesy of the Azrieli Foundation)

Four composers from around the world were named as the 2024 Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) laureates by the Azrieli Foundation in Montréal today. The Azrieli Music Prizes are awarded on a biennial basis, each with a specific focus.

For 2024, the focus turns to works for a cappella choir and up to four additional instruments and/or vocal soloist(s).

The winners are:

  • Yair Klartag received the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music;
  • Josef Bardanashvili won the Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music;
  • Jordan Nobles received the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music;
  • Juan Trigos won the first-ever Azrieli Commission for International Music.

New to this year’s prizes is the Commission for International Music. The goal of creating this new category is to foster intercultural connections and understanding.

The Prizes

Each of the four prizes is valued at over $200,000 CAD. That includes:

  • A cash award of $50,000 CAD;
  • The world-premiere performance of their prize-winning work by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Chorus at the AMP Gala Concert on October 28, 2024 in Montréal ;
  • Two additional international performances after the world premiere;
  • A professional recording of their prize-winning work.

The winners were chosen by three different panels of experts, which included Chaya Czernowin, Tania León, Dr. Neil W. Levin, Samy Moussa, Gerard Schwarz and Ana Sokolović.

The Details

Josef Bardanashvili: The Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music

This prize is awarded to the best new piece of Jewish music that remains undiscovered to this point. Josef Bardanashvili’ work Light to My Path Choral Fantasy for Mixed Choir, Saxophone, Percussion and Piano includes four movements with names inspired by the Book of Psalms — supplication, ecstasy, doubt, gratitude.

The Jury noted that his “music is beautiful. It is clear the composer is putting his own inner musical and sacred world on display and, in so doing, inviting the listener to enter it.”

Josef Bardanashvili’s work has been performed by the Israel Philharmonic, the Berliner Symphoniker, and the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra, among others. His catalogue of works includes five operas, four ballets, and four symphonies. He is the composer-in-residence of the Israel Camerata Jerusalem, and is currently a faculty member of the Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Yair Klartag: The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music

This award is designed to invite composers to consider the question, “What is Jewish music?” with a creative lens. The panel chooses the proposal that demonstrates the greatest artistry, technical mastery and professional expertise.

Yair Klartag’s proposal concerns The Parable of the Palace, an 18-minute work for choir and four double basses. It draws on the parable by Jewish philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204) by the same name, a story that delves into the limits of logic vs. the metaphysical. The piece divides choir and double basses into four smaller ensembles.

The jury praised Klartag for “meeting a very high standard in how his music clearly connects at all levels and yet manages to evade our expectations.”

Yair Klartag is an Israeli composer living in Tel Aviv. He teaches in the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Klartag’s pieces have been widely performed in Europe, including Berlin, Vienna, Munich, and Geneva, as well as in Tokyo by the Tokyo Sinfonietta. The recipient of several awards, he studied at Tel Aviv University, Basel Musikhochschule and Columbia University.

Jordan Nobles: The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music

This prize goes to a Canadian composer to create a work that connects with the realities of contemporary Canada. Jordan Nobles proposed a piece called Kanata for Large Choir. The 15-minute piece was inspired by travels across the country, and is a musical tribute to the Canadian landscape. Nobles will compose the work on the land as he travels through it, and will feature both the modern and First Nations names of the rivers, lakes and mountains from each province.

The jury commented that Nobles was, “a strong composer who writes music that is unashamedly honest and clearly in his voice. His compositions are elemental, expansive and engaging, pulling you into his sound world.”

JUNO award-winning composer Jordan Nobles is also the recipient of a Western Canadian Music Award and the Jan V. Matejcek Award from SOCAN in recognition of his “overall success in ‘New Classical Music.’” He has released several albums, including 2017’s Immersion, which won the JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year. He specializes in spatial music with open instrumentation, and his works have been performed across Canada as well as internationally.

Juan Trigos: The Azrieli Commission for International Music

This prize is given to a proposal for a piece that creatively engages with cultural heritage. Juan Trigos’ piece Simetrías Prehispánicas is inspired by the pre-Hispanic culture of Mexico. The 20-minute composition for chorus, amplified flute, trombone, percussion and keyboards will incorporate texts written by major Aztec poets of the 15th century, along with anonymous works, in the original language of Nahuatl and the Spanish translation.

The jury praised Trigos as “a gifted composer whose music is polished, rhythmic, original, well-orchestrated and directional.”

Mexican-American composer Juan Trigos’ music is based on folklore, and includes six operas, four symphonies, three cantatas and concertos for several instruments which have been performed across the Americas, Europe, and in Japan. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Music in Composition & Theory at the University of Kentucky in Lexington earlier this year, and is currently the Music Director and Principal Conductor of The Last Hundred Ensemble (Miami) and Sinfonietta MIQ (Guanajuato). Juan is a Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte (Mexico) member.

More details about the AMP Gala Concert, featuring the premiere of all four Prize-winning works by the OSM Chorus, conducted by Andrew Megill, to come in 2024.

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