Murray Adaskin Prize in Music Composition

Born in Toronto, Murray Adaskin is one of three brothers to have had illustrious musical careers. Trained at first as a violinist, he distinguished himself as leader of the Toronto Trio and member of the Toronto Symphony and CBC radio orchestras. In the 1940s his interest in composition resulted in formal studies with John Weinzweig and Darius Milhaud.

While his compositional craft and technique derive from national and international sources, the inspiration for his music originates in his deep-rooted affection for the vastness and expanse of his country, its lakes and  birds, its culture and original peoples. These feelings pervade his Saskatchewan Legend, Algonquin Symphony, Qalala and Nilaula of the North and There is My People Sleeping, as well as compositionswithout similar evocative titles.

Murray Adaskin occupies a unique position in the history of music in this country; he is truly a Canadian composer whose presence has penetrated many layers of the Canadian cultural fabric. Through his pioneeringwork and strong leadership at the University of Saskatchewan over a period of 20 years, he has trained many of this country's younger generations. Through his early participation on the Canadian League ofComposers and the Canada Council, he has helped in the shaping of Canada's leading cultural institutions. As guest conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony and of the CBC Symphony Orchestras in Toronto andWinnipeg, and as an administrator at the University of Saskatchewan, he has commissioned and performed large numbers of Canadian works, in that way contributing to the proliferation of Canadian music.

He was asked to compose works for the commemoration of Canada's Centennial celebrations in 1967 and the opening of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 1969. His honorary doctorates from Brandon University and the universities of Lethbridge and Windsor and the receipt of the Order of Canada, acknowledge these numerous and varied contributions.

In 1973, Murray Adaskin and his wife, Frances James, moved to Victoria. Seldom has a career in retirement been subject to such activity. Almost a third of his total output of more than 70 large scale works have been composed in Victoria. More than half of these compositions, in turn, were commissioned by individual musicians or musical institutions in British Columbia.

Professor Adaskin has provided guidance and inspiration to young local violinists, a number of whom are now graduates of this university. Along with Mrs. Adaskin, he has been a staunch supporter of the Victoria Symphony, the University of Victoria, the Victoria Conservatory and other cultural institutions in this city. His life is filled with optimism, courage and vision; it is a life of uncompromising ideals. Our community is greatly enriched by his presence.

In 1984, Murray and Frances Adaskin received honorary degrees from the University of Victoria to acknowledge their commitment to this country's musical identity. The University also has a scholarship for a studentstudying Violin or Viola named in their honour. Funding for the Murray Adaskin Prize in Composition was initiated in 1987 by a generous donation from Sylvia Rickard. Several other individuals contributed to the scholarship fund, including the Canadian Composers in Concert group, which held a concert to raise money, and this has made it possible to guarantee the awarding of the prize in perpetuity.

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