The Azrieli Foundation has announced the three laureates of their 2022 Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) – the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music to Iman Habibi, the Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music to Aharon Harlap and the second edition of the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music to Rita Ueda.

Each Laureate receives a total prize package valued at over $200,000 CAD, including a cash award of $50,000 CAD; a world-premiere performance of their prize-winning work in Montréal by the Orchestre Métropolitain at the AMP Gala Concert on October 20, 2022, where the Laureates will be publicly honoured; two subsequent international performances; and a professional recording of their prize-winning work released on the Analekta label.

Canadian-born Israeli composer Aharon Harlap is the recipient of the 2022 Prize for his astounding Out of the Depths have I cried unto Thee O’ Lord, a setting of five psalms for soprano and orchestra.

In selecting Aharon for the 2022 Prize, the Jury described his Out of the Depths have I cried unto Thee O’ Lord as, “a beautiful, sophisticated, moving and sincere piece of music, written by a fantastic musician. It is a major work that reflects well on the state of Jewish Music.”

The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music is awarded to Iman Habibi who is to write a 20-minute song cycle based on texts by Judeo-Persian poet Shahin Shirazi, sung in Farsi by a Persian soloist singing in a Persian style. The work will show the close affinity that has historically existed between Persians and Jews, dating as far back as 6th-century BC. Today, this shared history and affinity is obscured by the political relationship between Iran and Israel.

Habibi’s music captivated the jury, who deemed him, « a truly authentic composer. His music is unique, original and fascinating. His proposal for a new song cycle exploring Judeo-Persian poetry offers an utterly unique contribution to the repertoire.”

The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music is offered to Rita Ueda, who will write a 25-minute double concerto for suona (Chinese double-reed horn), sho (Japanese mouth organ) and orchestra, incorporating birdsongs from among the 450+ different bird species in Canada. The new work continues Rita’s pursuit of a new transcultural musical identity without losing a sense of individuality. It will incorporate Japanese, Chinese and Western musical traditions within a uniquely Canadian bird soundscape.

In commenting on her proposal, the jury said, “Rita Ueda brings rigour and care to her music. Her proposal is well-researched and interesting in the ways that it confronts tensions in and between cultures by viewing birdsong through an intercultural lens. It is a well-considered, generous and integrated idea for expressing the diversity of Canadian society, where all individuals can be valued for what they bring to the whole.”

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