The Ninth Prize
Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate
2011 - Leonard Cohen, Canada
Photo by John Reeves
Singer, songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen is The Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate.
“I want to thank The Glenn Gould Foundation for their kindness. It is a great honour, sweetened by my love of the work of Glenn Gould, and our collective appreciation of his invigorating and enduring presence in the world of Music and Imagination,” stated Cohen.
For four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, relentlessly examining the central issues in human experience, and reporting with passion, insight and wisdom. His body of work is a reflection of the zeitgeist of the late 20th century and beyond. His songs are works of great poetic depth and profound emotional force, and set new standards for quality, range and seriousness in pop music. Artists and music-lovers alike are drawn to the dignity, ambition and sheer power of his songs.
An accomplished literary figure before he began recording music in the late 1960s, his collections of poetry, including Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) and Flowers for Hitler, and his novels including The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966), had already brought him considerable recognition. His dual careers in music and literature have continued feeding each other over the decades – his songs revealing a literary richness rare in the world of popular music, and his poetry and prose informed by an intense musicality. Collectively, Cohen has published 12 books including Book of Longing (2006), a collection of prose, poetry and drawings which was the first book of poetry to reach the top of Canada’s bestsellers’ lists, and which formed the basis of a memorable musical and theatre collaboration with composer Philip Glass which premiered at Toronto’s Luminato festival.
Leonard Cohen is one of the most covered artists alive today, influencing generations of songwriters, and his music has earned the accolades of other artists in tribute albums in France, Norway, Canada, Spain, the Czech Republic, South Africa, and the United States. “Hallelujah”, one of Cohen’s best-known and best-loved songs has been covered by over 150 artists including Willie Nelson and Bono. Numerous documentaries, awards, and tribute albums acknowledge the far-reaching contribution Cohen has made to music. He continues to refine and deepen his art, and as a musician he is constantly exploring new territory.
Read the special article by Robert Harris on Glenn Gould and Leonard Cohen. This article appeared in the Gala Concert programme.
The Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Video
Narrated by Stephen Fry for The Glenn Gould Foundation. Copyright 2012.
The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize
2011 - The Children of Sistema Toronto
Sistema Toronto, established in 2011, is an intensive after-school program of free music education focusing on economically disadvantaged communities. It is modelled after El Sistema, the visionary movement founded by Venezuelan economist, musician and humanitarian Dr. José Antonio Abreu, who received the Eighth Glenn Gould Prize in 2009.
Inspired by the 2009 Glenn Gould Prize Celebration of Music for Dr. Abreu, Toronto businessman and philanthropist Robert Eisenberg (now President of Sistema Toronto) engaged musician and educator David Visentin (now Executive and Artistic Director) to bring the Sistema concept to Toronto schools, founding their initial pilot project with 60 children from grades one to four within a vibrant community of diverse cultural backgrounds at Parkdale Junior and Senior Public school, as a first step towards the long-term goal of making the program broadly available throughout the city and beyond.
Sistema Toronto provides music lessons four days a week, instruments and a healthy after-school snack all at no charge. Lessons take place in an ensemble-based environment from September to June, all led by a professional team of artist-teachers. The intensive nature of the program (10 hours of lessons weekly), means that in three years, a Sistema student will receive the equivalent of 10 years of traditional conservatory training.
Sistema Toronto emphasizes both musical and human harmony, working towards positive social transformation through music. The program shares among its participants a love of music as a tool for the unique development of each child’s full potential. Working as members of an ensemble team, Sistema children experience the joy and fulfillment not only of growing skill, the pleasure of experiencing and creating beauty, but also what it means to be part of a supportive community in which he or she contributes as a fully engaged contributor.
The Children of Sistema Toronto sing Hallelujah
Video Presentation featured at the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert.
Video by Donald Gislason and Bowen Staines.