Music Awards and Competitions

By the year 2000, awards were being given in Canada throughout a range of musical genres (classical, country, folk, pop and rock) to recognize excellence in individual or group performance, as well as excellence in a variety of presentation media (film, radio, recording, TV and video).

Music Awards and Competitions

By the year 2000, awards were being given in Canada throughout a range of musical genres (classical, country, folk, pop and rock) to recognize excellence in individual or group performance, as well as excellence in a variety of presentation media (film, radio, recording, TV and video). Music awards are given on a noncompetitive basis or are won in competition. Noncompetitive music awards recognize outstanding accomplishment, merit, leadership or generosity. Recipients may be part of a larger group honoured by government institutions, either federal, provincial or municipal (eg, Order of Canada, Ordre national du Québec, Toronto Arts Awards); they may be winners of prizes or trophies given specifically to members of the music community by musical clubs, professional organizations or businesses associated with music (eg, the Canadian Music Council Medal, the Juno Awards); they may be given a monetary award by a foundation established to commemorate the work of a celebrated Canadian musician (eg, the Glenn Gould Prize); or they may receive salutatory awards offered by schools, colleges and universities (honorary degrees). Winners are normally chosen by a specially appointed jury or awards committee. Noncompetitive music awards may also take the form of scholarships, bursaries, fellowships or study grants, as established by individuals, businesses, foundations, music clubs, educational institutions or professional music organizations.

Competitive music awards may be divided into several categories: those earned at competition festivals or those earned in performance, conducting or composition competitions. Some competitions award medals or trophies, some only honours, and others provide monetary awards. Competition festivals, in whatever musical discipline, provide opportunities for young musicians to compete against their peers and profit from the experience of public performance and the evaluation and advice of the judges.

Performance competitions usually involve participation at the advanced-student or young professional level. Winners are chosen by an appointed jury. In addition to a monetary prize, such an award may include national recognition by way of media coverage of the competition, potential offers of recording contracts, and invitations to perform on radio or TV or with major orchestras, choirs, concert groups, or on arranged tours. These competitions are sometimes held publicly in concert halls (eg, the MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC COMPETITION) or on radio (eg, the CBC National Competition for Young Performers, formerly the CBC Talent Festival and successor to "Opportunity Knocks"). Competitions may be regional, national or international in scope. Some have been established with a specific aim (eg, the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition for the Performance of Canadian Music), while others are devoted to specific instruments or genres (eg, the Banff International String Quartet Competition).

Conducting competitions are more recent in Canada. They are sponsored by foundations, schools or conservatories to honour a well-known conductor who has shown interest in young musicians wishing to perform as conductors (eg, the Heinz Unger Award). As well as offering a prize, usually money, such competitions provide a showcase for potential conductors to demonstrate their skills before representatives of community orchestras and choirs.

The number of composition competitions has increased during the past 40 years. They may be sponsored by the CBC; various corporations; or by musical organizations across Canada, such as performing rights societies (eg, CAPAC, PRO Canada, SOCAN), performance organizations - choirs and orchestras - or by educational institutions. Such competitions (eg, the Jules Leger Prize for New Chamber Music) usually offer a cash prize for the winning composer, and the public performance and sometimes the recording of the successful composition by a major orchestra, choir, ensemble or soloist.

Canadian musicians - both performers and composers - have earned awards, prizes, honours and distinction in many of the important international competitions (eg, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition; the Leeds International Piano Competition; "Let the Peoples Sing" organized by the BBC in conjunction with the European Broadcast Union; and the Metropolitan Opera "Auditions of the Air"). For a listing of Canadian honours, awards and competitions see the entries "Awards" and "Competitions" in the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC IN CANADA, Second Edition.


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