2022 Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert to Feature Three Prize-Winning Works This October

Performers include Orchestre Métropolitain led by Alexandre Bloch, soprano Sharon Azrieli, vocalist and setar player Sepideh Raissadat, and more.

The Azrieli Foundation will present its biennial Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert at Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 20, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET featuring prize-winning works by the three 2022 AMP Laureates. The concert will be livestreamed by the world’s leading classical music channel, Medici TV, free for all to enjoy.

Orchestre Métropolitain – one of Canada’s leading ambassadors for symphonic music – returns to Medici TV under the direction of daring French conductor Alexandre Bloch. Soprano Sharon Azrieli, vocalist and setar player Sepideh Raissadat, shō player Naomi Sato and suona/sheng player Zhongxi Wu join Orchestre Métropolitain as soloists.

These premiere performances form part of the total prize package each AMP Laureate receives – valued at over $200,000 CAD – which also includes a cash award of $50,000 CAD; at least two subsequent international performances; and a recording of the winning work for future commercial release.

Iman Habibi, winner of the 2022 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music, has created Shāhīn-nāmeh (The Book of Shāhīn), a song cycle for voice and orchestra based on 14th-century Judeo Persian poetry of Shahin Shirazi. Habibi comments, “This piece will incorporate a Persian traditional singing style in the solo part against a backdrop of Western classical instruments. I have previously experimented with this combination in a piece for choir and soloist, called Colour of Freedom, which has so far received dozens of performances across Canada. The result will be an exciting fresh sound, and a marriage of many different cultural and musical languages. It is my hope that this new work can bring much-deserved attention to this little-known poetry, but also show the close affinity that has existed historically between Persians and Jews dating back centuries.”

Aharon Harlap, winner of the 2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, wrote Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord, for soprano and orchestra. Harlap explains, “Through the ages from the time of King David until the present day, the Psalms have been a source of solace and comfort to the Jewish people. I have chosen five of these Psalms that deal with the belief in God’s strength to overcome all adversity and to protect us in time of need. The words of the Psalms have been my inspiration throughout. Here, they are sung by the soprano soloist in the original Hebrew.”

Rita Ueda, winner of the second Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music, has composed Birds Calling… from the Canada in You for shō, suona/sheng and orchestra. Ueda remarks, “Growing up in Canada, I have always felt that traditional Western birdsong works do not sound like any birds I know. Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony, Respighi’s The Birds and Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques, to name a few, are pieces by composers I deeply respect, but none of them sound like birds in our Canadian soundscape. There are no works about our Blue Jays, Snowy Owls, Gyrfalcons or Anna’s Hummingbirds. Birds Calling … will be a uniquely Canadian musical bird call experience.”

Tickets for the live concert, $34.50-$103.50, are on sale nowClick Here. Viewers wishing to watch online may tune in to the concert for free at home on Medici TV.


Iman Habibi: Shāhīn-nāmeh, for voice and orchestra (World Premiere), Texts by Shahin Shirazi (2022 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music)
Aharon Harlap: Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord, for soprano and orchestra (North American Premiere) (2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music)
Rita Ueda: Birds Calling… from the Canada in You, for shō, suona/sheng and orchestra (World Premiere) (2022 Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music)

About Iman Habibi, 2022 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music Laureate
Iman Habibi is an Iranian-Canadian composer and pianist, and a founding member of the piano duo Piano Pinnacle. Dr. Habibi has been commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and collaborated with the Vancouver and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, as well as the JACK, Chiara, Del Sol and Calidore String Quartets.

His awards include multiple wins at the SOCAN Foundation Awards, the International
Composers’ Award at the Estoterics ‘Polyphonos’ Choral Composition Competition (2012), the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist in Music (2011) and the Brehm Prize in Choral Composition (2016). Learn more at imanhabibi.com.

About Aharon Harlap, 2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music Laureate

Aharon Harlap is one of Israel’s most prominent and awarded composers and conductors. He began his musical career in Canada as a pianist, and in 1964 immigrated to Israel. He went on to become Associate Professor at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in conducting and composition. Most recently, Harlap received the Life Achievement Award (2020) for Jewish Art compositions, sponsored by Zippora Jochsberger and the Jerusalem Academy. He is closely identified as a composer of music dealing with Biblical texts ranging from chamber to orchestral, opera and oratorio works. Performances of his oeuvre have taken place in Canada, Israel, the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Russia and Thailand. Learn more at aharonharlap.com.

About Rita Ueda, 2022 Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music Laureate

Rita Ueda is a Canadian composer of orchestral, operatic and choral works that reflect today’s ever-shifting interactions between cultures in flux. Recent premieres include collaborations with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Prague Modern, Locrian Chamber Players (New York), the Amadeus Choir (Toronto) and the SYC Ensemble Singers (Singapore). Her numerous awards include the 2014 Krzysztof Penderecki International Composers’ Competition (1st prize), 2010 International Mahler Competition (orchestra, 2nd prize), 2011 Estoterics ‘Polyphonos’ Choral Composition Competition (1st prize) and the 2013 Val Tidone Composition Competition (orchestra, 2nd prize). She was most recently Composer-in-Residence of the Sanremo Symphony Orchestra (Italy).

About Orchestre Métropolitain (OM)

Founded in 1981, OM is known for its drive for excellence, its bold presence and its commitment to community engagement. For the past 20 years, the OM has grown alongside its artistic director and principal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose career continues to reach new heights. Their exceptional relationship has given rise to many ambitious musical projects, from exclusive webcasts for DG Stage to successful European and American tours, and over 20 recordings for both ATMA Classique and Deutsche Grammophon. Building on this special relationship, and on the momentum of its concerts and recordings, the OM has enjoyed growing success and earned an enviable international reputation. Learn more at orchestremetropolitain.com.

About the Azrieli Music Prizes

Established in 2014, the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) is Canada’s largest competition devoted to music composition. AMP advances the Azrieli Foundation’s commitment to discovering, elevating and amplifying artistic voices that exhibit excellence and embodies its belief in music as a vital human endeavour that expresses our creativity, expands our worldview and fosters positive cultural exchange.

Open to the international music community, AMP accepts nominations for works from individuals and institutions of all ages, genders, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds, which are then submitted to its expert juries through an open call for scores and proposals.

The three AMP prize packages – valued at $200,000 CAD per Laureate – currently makes it the top competition for music composition in Canada and one of the most substantial in the world. Past prize-winners include Canadian composer Keiko Devaux (2020), Dutch-born American composer Yotam Haber (2020), Israeli-born Australian composer Yitzhak Yedid (2020), Israeli-American composer Avner Dorman (2018), Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy (2018), Canadian composer Brian Current (2016) and U.S.-based Polish composer Wlad Marhulets (2016).

About The Azrieli Foundation

With a firm belief that everyone has a contribution to make, the Azrieli Foundation has been opening doors, breaking ground and nurturing networks for more than 30 years. The Foundation funds institutions and operates programs in Canada and Israel. Through its Music, Arts & Culture Initiatives, of which AMP is a part, the Foundation is committed to discovering, elevating and amplifying artistic voices, granting broad access to meaningful musical experiences that exhibit artistic excellence and advance our quality of life and learning.

Originally published in Broadway World. View the original article here.