For Immediate Release, September 12, 2018 … The Azrieli Foundation presents an exhilarating evening of musical discovery, unveiling two world premiere works by the winners of the 2018 Azrieli Music Prizes. Inventive orchestral colour and virtuosic flair are on display for Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman’s Nigunim for Violin and Orchestra, while Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy explores a wealth of Sephardic music in her En el escuro es todo uno (In the Darkness All is One), a unique double concerto for harp and cello. Maestro Yoav Talmi conducts an expanded McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO) for this varied programme, which includes two Hebrew songs arranged especially for soprano Sharon Azrieli and Mendelssohn’s brilliant Symphony No. 4 “Italian.” The Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert takes place on Monday, October 15 at 8:00 pm at Maison symphonique de Montréal.
The Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) support the creation, performance and celebration of new Jewish Music. They are also the largest international music composition competition in Canada. Every two years, two deserving composers each receive a significant prize package including a $50,000 cash award and a commercial recording release of their music, all supported by a significant promotions campaign. The inaugural Azrieli Music Prizes were awarded in 2016 to Canadian composer Brian Current for his work The Seven Heavenly Halls and to Polish-American composer Wlad Marhulets for his Klezmer Clarinet Concerto. Both pieces were recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Steven Mercurio, and have gone on to subsequent performances in Canada and in Europe.
Winner of the 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman now lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. An acclaimed artist whose works are performed regularly around the world, Dorman’s career was launched when he became the youngest composer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his Ellef Symphony. His Nigunim for Violin and Orchestra, expanded and revised from its original version for violin and piano, explores the music of various Jewish traditions from around the world. “The diversity and wealth of musical traditions I discovered astounded me,” comments Dorman, “ranging from North African cantillation to Central Asian wedding music, and from Balkan rhythms to ancient prayers.” In selecting Nigunim for the prize, jury member and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis remarked, “Avner Dorman’s music is marked by soulful expression joined to rich, inventive orchestral colour and virtuosic flair. Acclaimed Canadian-born violinist Lara St. John – described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad – is soloist.
The 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music was awarded to Ottawa-based composer Kelly-Marie Murphy. One of the most recognized voices on the Canadian music scene, Kelly-Marie Murphy’s music has been described as “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post) and “striking … full of brilliant tours” (The Globe and Mail). Her new work, En el escuro es todo uno (In the Darkness All is One), is an innovative double concerto for harp and cello that explores Sephardic music and how it has impacted other cultures as the Jewish diaspora settled in Morocco, Tunisia and parts of Europe. The work integrates Ladino songs and melodic ornamentation, particularly songs on themes of motherhood and childhood. The soloists include harpist Erica Goodman, considered “not only Canada’s preeminent harp player [but]one of the most celebrated in the world” (Ottawa Citizen); and cellist Rachel Mercer, who creates “moments of pure magic” (Toronto Star) as a renowned soloist, chamber musician and as Principal Cello of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Maestro Yoav Talmi is celebrated as one of Israel’s most distinguished conductor-composers on the international scene with a career that has seen him on the podium across the United States, Europe, South America, the Far East, New Zealand and Israel. In addition to his thirteen-year tenure as Artistic Director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra (1988–2011), Maestro Talmi has held major positions with the Hamburg Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the Arnhem Philharmonic, and as Music Director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra as well the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv. Maestro Talmi conducts the McGill Chamber Orchestra, which is celebrating its 79th year as a professional ensemble. The Orchestra has toured widely, presenting concerts in 17 countries on five continents to great critical acclaim. The MCO also has recorded extensively for CBC Records and Analekta, and appeared regularly on radio and television for CBC and Radio-Canada. Boris Brott, eldest son of founding director Alexander Brott, became the orchestra’s Artistic Director in 2005.
The week leading up to the Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert will include two related public events, in addition to workshops and masterclasses with the artists. On Tuesday, October 9 at 7:30 pm, Arte Musica, in collaboration with the Azrieli Foundation, presents Kelly-Marie Murphy: Sur les pas de la lune. Taking place at Salle Bourgie, the unique programme curated by Murphy showcases some of her own compositions echoing Schoenberg’s best-known work, the intriguing Pierrot Lunaire. The following evening, on Wednesday October 10 at 6 pm, the McCord Museum, in collaboration with the Azrieli Foundation and KlezKanada, presents A Conversation with the Winners of the 2018 Azrieli Music Prizes. Dr. Judah Cohen, Associate Professor of Musicology and Jewish Studies at Indiana University, moderates this discussion with Avner Dorman and Kelly-Marie Murphy, who will discuss their award-winning pieces and the creative process behind them The event will feature excerpts from the traditional Jewish music that inspired the composers’ world premiere works as well as examples of their personal musical style, performed by violinist Marc Djokic and others.
The Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert
Monday, October 15, 8:00 pm
Maison symphonique de Montréal, 1600 St. Urbain Steet
Available in person at the Place des Arts Box Office or by calling:
514 842-2112 or 1 866 842-2112 or placedesarts.com.
Tuesday, October 9, 7:30 pm at Salle Bourgie
Kelly-Marie Murphy: Sur les pas de la lune
Presented by Arte Musica in collaboration with the Azrieli Foundation.
Wednesday October 10, 6 pm at the McCord Museum
A conversation with the winners of the 2018 Azrieli Music Prizes
Free Admission. Seating is limited.
Presented by the McCord Museum in collaboration with the Azrieli Foundation and KlezKanada.
About the Azrieli Music Prizes
Established in 2014 by the Azrieli Foundation, the Azrieli Music Prizes offer opportunities for the discovery, performance and celebration of excellence in new Jewish Music. Open to the international music community, works are nominated by individuals and institutions from all nationalities, faiths, backgrounds and affiliations, and submitted to the jury through the biennial open call for scores.
About the Azrieli Foundation
For almost 30 years, the Azrieli Foundation has funded institutions as well as operated programs on the ground in Canada and in Israel. The Foundation supports music and the arts, scientific and medical research, higher education, Holocaust education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, architecture and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities.