News Releases - 2005
Composer R. Murray Schafer wins Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts
Ottawa, November 8, 2005 – The Canada Council for the Arts announced today that composer and educator R. Murray Schafer is the winner of the 2005 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.
The $30,000 prize, administered and presented by the Canada Council, recognizes the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career in Canada in dance, theatre or music. Mr. Schafer is the fourth winner of the prize: the previous winners were dancer Veronica Tennant, playwright John Murrell and choreographer/director Brian Macdonald.
The Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts was created as a result of a generous donation of $1.1 million to the Canada Council by Toronto businessman and philanthropist Walter Carsen. The prize is normally awarded annually on a four-year cycle: dance, theatre, dance, music.
R. Murray Schafer was selected by a peer assessment committee consisting of composers Anthony Genge and Jacques Hétu, pianist Jon Kimura Parker, former CBC Radio music head Janet Lea and jazz pianist and bassist Don Thomson.
In citing the reasons for the selection of R. Murray Schafer, the jury said:
“R. Murray Schafer is Canada’s most renowned living composer. He is equally admired as a dramatist, educator, scholar and writer. His prodigious output – over 120 works for choral, orchestral and chamber ensembles – has earned him an international reputation and numerous awards. His eight string quartets alone are a significant contribution to string quartet literature. In addition to being sonically beautiful and structurally original, his compositions are imbued with a unique and imaginative vision, a reflection of lifelong studies in language, literature and philosophy, and of a deep respect for the environment and “acoustic ecology.” His is a multi-dimensional talent that extends beyond boundaries. R. Murray Schafer has built a legacy that will endure.”
Mr. Schafer is currently Artist in Residence at Concordia University, and will inaugurate Concordia’s 2005-2006 Defiant Imagination Lecture Series on Wednesday, November 9.
Concordia President Claude Lajeunesse recognized the importance of having Mr. Schafer at Concordia. “We are honored to have R. Murray Schafer as our Artist in Residence this year,” he said. “But the true winners will be the students who are fortunate enough to work with him.”
Mr. Schafer will be presented with his award by Canada Council Vice-Chair Simon Brault at a ceremony and reception at Concordia University on Tuesday, December 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event will take place at Concordia’s new EV Building, located at 1515 St. Catherine Street West (corner of Guy Street) in Montreal. Media representatives are invited to attend.
R. Murray Schafer
R. Murray Schafer is Canada’s pre-eminent composer. His works have ranged from orchestral compositions and choral music to musical theatre and multi-media productions. He has won national and international acclaim not only for his musical compositions, but also as an educator, environmentalist, literary scholar, visual artist and provocateur.
Born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1933, Mr. Schafer suppressed a youthful urge to become a painter to study music at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto and obtained a piano degree from the Royal College of Music in London, England. He later taught himself journalism, languages, literature, music, and philosophy in Vienna and London from 1956-61.
His diversity of interests is reflected by the enormous range and depth of such works as Loving (1965), Lustro (1972), Music for Wilderness Lake (1979), Flute Concerto (1984) and the World Soundscape Project, as well as his 12-part Patria music theatre cycle. His most important book, The Tuning of the World (1977), documents the findings of the World Soundscape Project, which united the social, scientific and artistic aspects of sound and introduced the concept of acoustic ecology.
His honours include the Fromm Foundation Award (1972), the Canadian Music Council Medal (1972), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), the William Harold Moon Award (1974), the Composer of the Year Award from the Canadian Music Council (1976), the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music (1977, for String Quartet No. 2, Waves). He has also received the Prix Honegger (1980, for String Quartet No. 1; the only North American so honored), the Glenn Gould Prize for Music and its Communication (1987), the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize (1993), and the Louis Applebaum Composer's Award (1999).
See also: "The sense and sensibility of R. Murray Schafer"
The Canada Council for the Arts, in addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts in Canada, administers and awards prizes and fellowships to over 100 artists and scholars annually in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, and engineering. Among these are the Killam Prizes, the Killam Research Fellowships, the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Other Canada Council music prizes include the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, the Virginia Parker Prize, the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award and the Bernard Diamant Prize.
For more information about these awards, including nomination procedures, contact Janet Riedel Pigott, Acting Director of Endowments and Prizes, at (613) 566-4414, or 1-800-263-5588, ext. 5041.