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By Joel Kasow

Kent Nagano’s career has been meteoric, from the time he was recognized by Olivier Messiaen and encouraged by the composer, assisting Seiji Ozawa during the creation of 'St François d’Assise' and ultimately becoming a renowned interpreter of the work in his own right. During the American conductor’s years as music director of the Opéra de Lyon, he demonstrated an enthusiasm for the unusual (Busoni, Ariadne I, Martinu) as well as an aptitude for the more conventional ('Madama Butterfly'). Leaving Lyon for Berlin and Los Angeles, he is about to take over the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and also the opera in Munich (Bayerisches Staatsoper).

MONTREAL, 11 April 2005—The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal International Composition Prize will be awarded for the first time during the 2006-2007 season, an initiative of Kent Nagano who is the newly appointed music director of the Orchestra. The biennial competition is open to composers of any nationality who have not reached their fortieth birthday.

The prize aims to encourage not only musical creation, but also performances, as well as to develop lasting ties between the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal  (OSM) and contemporary composers so that it can contribute actively to the renewal of the symphonic repertoire.

 "It is very important to offer today’s composers increased opportunities to write pieces for orchestra and to discover new ways to reach a public that is constantly expanding. It is also essential to offer orchestras a new perspective on the contemporary repertoireE a musical life based solely on the past is insufficient in the long term. Throughout its long history, our great artistic tradition has needed and found new life and new ideas that have allowed it to remain alive, vibrant and pertinent to the future of humanity", stated Kent Nagano.

The winning composition will be awarded the Olivier Messiaen International Prize consisting of 25,000 $ CAN and a commission from the OSM. The prize-winning work will be performed by the OSM and Kent Nagano at a gala concert in the autumn of 2007 as well as by one of the orchestras of Radio France. The composition will also be recorded live by Les Disques SRC/CBC Records. In addition, through the generosity of the Association pour la Création et la Diffusion Artistique (Paris), a piano composition by the prize winner will be played by the participants in one of the next Olivier Messiaen International Piano Competitions.  

The second prize, Promise Prize, of 15,000 $ CAN is given by the Mica and Francis Salabert Foundation which aims to promote young musical creation, particularly helping young composers.

The Claude Vivier National Prize will be awarded for the best Canadian work and will consist not only of 10,000 $ CAN, but performance of the winning work by the OSM under Kent Nagano during the gala concert in the autumn of 2007 which will be broadcast by Radio-Canada and recorded by Les Disques SRC/CBC Records. The Claude Vivier Prize is sponsored by Espace Musique, the music station of Radio Canada.

The OSM’s International Composition Prize will be in four stages:

(1) A pre-selection committee will eliminate those works of which the score and knowledge of instrumental writing might be considered inadequate. The members of this committee will be Jean Lesage (Canada) and Serge
Provost (Canada).

The juries of the following stages will be headed by the French composer, Gilbert Amy.

 (2) For the preliminary round (28 July E2 October 2006), Gilbert Amy, Denys Bouliane (Canada) and John Eaton (United States) will select the compositions to be included in the semi-finals, based on their reading of the score and listening to recordings. They will deliberate in Montreal 1 and 2 October 2006.

(3) For the semi-finals (6 E9 October 2006), a second jury composed of Gilbert Amy, Philippe Manoury (France),  Alexina Louie (Canada) and Gilles Tremblay (Canada) will select four works for the finale.

(4) The finals will be Thursday, 11 January 2007. The OSM will play the four chosen works in concert. On this occasion, Mr. Amy will be joined by Peter Eötvös (Hungary), Unsuk Chin (Korea), Gilles Tremblay (Canada) and Kent Nagano. This third jury will distribute the three prizes.


 The OSM’s International Composition Prize is open to composers of any nationality who have not yet reached their fortieth birthday by 30 June 2006.

Each candidate may submit one work, composed for a minimun of 45 instrumentalists. The work may include a soloist to be chosen by the OSM, and may be selected from the first-desk players of the Orchestra.

The regulations, biographies of the judges, of Olivier Messiaen and ClaudeVivier can be found at:http://www.composition.osm.ca. The registration forms can be downloaded at this site. 

Photo courtesy of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal   

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