GENERATION2020: The jury and the public crown the winners


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Montreal, June 21, 2021 – After a one-week residence in Montreal this fall, a video recording, a live concert in Orford and a virtual spring tour in partnership with several Canadian presenters that ended on June 4, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+) has once again wrapped up its renowned Generation composition competition, which has been promoting and showcasing young Canadian composers throughout the country for over two decades.

Despite the constraints of a pandemic that forced the ECM+ to cancel the remainder of its planned 7-concert tour, a unique digital co-broadcasting agreement with the various presentation partners nevertheless made it possible to broadcast the event via the Web. This allowed the Canadian public and the members of the national jury to express their appreciation for the four new works and select the recipients of the two highly coveted Generation awards:

The Steven R. Gerber Generation National Jury Award, based on the votes of a number of specialists in the Canadian music community1— which now includes a commission by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (minimum value of $8,000) as well as a $5,000 bursary from ECM+ — and the Generation National Audience Choice Award, based on the cumulative votes of audiences for all the concerts and accompanied by a $3,000 bursary from ECM+.

NATIONAL JURY AWARD ($5,000 and an OSM commission)

The national jury awarded top honours to Anaphora, by British Columbia composer Matthew Ricketts. In this work, the ECM+’s two flutes—alto and bass— emerge to the fore, with clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano, percussion, 2 violins, viola and cello completing the ensemble. Anaphora draws its inspiration from the opening lines of Elizabeth Bishop’s eponymous poem evoking the pastoral sounds of daybreak.

The jury hailed it as an inspired work whose shimmering and balanced orchestration confers on it an overall sonority greater than the whole, while noting the successful effects of superimposed temporalities. They also described as “highly refined” the swirling of constantly developing sounds and noted the composer’s meticulous writing, which draws the listener into an ideal world, inviting introspection.

“A rare occurrence at a time of timbral research in creative music: Ricketts dares to be lyrical. His use of flutes is also remarkable: bass flutes and alto flutes, whose dark and grainy tones dominate the piece.” – Benoît Côté, Cettevilleetrange, October 29, 2020, Montreal


This year, the multiple merits of a second piece on the program inspired the national jury to award a special mention to Nimrod, by Quebec composer Gabriel Dufour-Laperrière. The ECM+ will recognize this special mention with the addition of a $2,500 bursary for the young composer, who will also receive a commission from the OSM—of equivalent minimum financial value and in addition to the bursary—in a yet-to-be-determined instrumentation.

“The researches of the composer are extremely interesting, he succeeds to create his own musical universe and the listener, beyond the understanding or not of the concept of kinetic music, can be carried away by the innovative impetus of this music, the beauty of the orchestration and by the richness of this proposition.” – Normand Babin, Neomemoire, May 4, 2021, Toronto

NATIONAL AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD ($3,000): two ex-aequo winners!

In an unexpected twist, the audience voted in favour of the other two works on the program, splitting their support equally between Grain, Vapor, Ray byStefan Maier (BC) and From Void by Bekah Simms (ON). Each composer will receive $1,500.

On Grain, Vapor, Ray:

“We sense something of a machine, like a place, a structure dominated by rumblings, of vibrations that follow their own logic.”  – Benoît Côté, Cettevilleetrange, October 29, 2020, Montreal

On From Void:

With such a clear structure, the music of Bekah Simms is moving through its vulnerability and its strength altogether.” – Benoît Côté, Cettevilleetrange, October 29, 2020, Montreal


Over the past 20 years, the ECM+’s 11 cross-Canada Generation project tours have played a fundamental role in developing and supporting Canadian musical creation, but the current worldwide health context will inevitably slow down the project’s momentum in the short and medium term. It must be noted that, for the past 20 years, the project’s inherent national outreach mandate has been successfully pursued, thanks to exceptional collaborations between ECM+ and some 15 Canadian presenters, who have taken turns selecting participating composers and presenting them to the public in the country’s major cities.

However, despite recent progress in mitigating the effects of the pandemic, tour planning remains a perilous, unpredictable and frustrating exercise, which has forced the ECM+ to put this formidable project on hold for the 2021-22 season. The Generation project will, therefore, return in the winter of 2023, in a new format that can more easily adapt to the new global health realities.

As for every iteration of Génération, the immense work of the musicians of ECM+ and Véronique Lacroix must be celebrated. The ensemble succeeds to make us believe in each music offered, and always shows the best of the artists who wrote it.” – Normand Babin, Neomemoire, May 4, 2021, Toronto

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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