LSM Newswire

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Music Concerts: Robert Aitken Receives the Walter Carsen Prize

Flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken wins the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts

Ottawa, October 20, 2009 Internationally renowned flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken, of Toronto, is the winner of the 2009 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. The $50,000 prize, administered and presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, 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 theatre, dance or music.

Mr. Aitken was selected by a peer assessment committee consisting of Henri Brassard, pianist and professor (St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, QC); Jani Lauzon, multi-disciplinary Mtis performing artist (Toronto); and Ian McDougall, trombonist, composer and teacher (Victoria, BC).

In awarding the prize to Mr. Aitken, the committee said, "A masterly force in the world of contemporary Canadian music, Robert Aitken has demonstrated for over half a century a tireless commitment to its development, performance and promotion in every corner of the globe. As a flutist, composer, interpreter and teacher, he is a distinguished innovator and continues to exert a strong influence on upcoming generations."

Robert AitkenĮWorld renowned Canadian flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken has been honoured with the Order of Canada and is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). In 1970, having previously served as principal flute for both the Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Mr. Aitken embarked on a solo career that has taken him all over the world.

He has more than 40 recordings to his credit and such notables as R. Murray Schafer, John Cage, George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Gilles Tremblay, John Beckwith and Bruce Mather have dedicated works to him. In 2003 he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association (USA). In 2004 he retired as Professor fr Flte at the Staatliche Hochschule fr Musik in Freiburg, Germany, a position he had held for 16 years.

As a composer, he holds bachelor and master's degrees from the University of Toronto and all of his works are published by Universal Edition, Salabert, Ricordi and Peer Music. Mr. Aitken was director of the Banff Centre Winter Program in Music, founder and artistic director of Music Today, Music at Shawnigan and co-founder, with Norma Beecroft, of New Music Concerts which he has directed since its inception in 1971.

Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts
Presented for the first time in 2001, 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, O.C. The prize is normally awarded annually on a fouryear cycle: dance, theatre, dance, music. Previous prize winners include dancer/choreographer Margie Gillis, playwright Judith Thomson, choreographer David Earle, composer R. Murray Schafer and principal dancer/producer-director Veronica Tennant.

General informationĮIn addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

Please visit our website ( for a complete listing of these awards.

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