The Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation was founded in 1984 by Sir Ernest MacMillan’s sons, Keith and Ross MacMillan, with a family donation. The foundation assists young musicians in their advanced education at the graduate level and commemorates the life of an extraordinary Canadian musician (Canada’s only musical knight, and a Companion of the Order of Canada,conductor and composer, but a vigorous champion of music education and young musicians. In addition to his directly musical activities, he was a capable administrator, and much in demand as a lecturer, adjudicator, writer, and humourist.

Reflecting MacMillan’s wide range of musical skills and interests, The Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Award provides a significant career development boost to a young Canadian musician or music scholar, chosen by a highly competitive national contest. The award, $12,000 in recent years, is offered annually or biennially and has been offered to many kinds of different musicians, including some in areas that are not always other)wise well funded.

This year, to celebrate the Foundation’s 25th anniversary, and in recognition of MacMillan’s 25 years conducting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1931-56), the award will support “the artistic development and career advancement of a young conductor; it may be used to assist with travel, a workshop or study programme, participation in a festival or competition, or other relevant purposes.”

The application deadline for this prestigious award is January 18, 2010. Young conductors across the country are preparing application materials, including a 15- to 30-minute DVD of themselves in rehearsal and performance with an audience, which will be adjudicated in two rounds by a jury of professional musicians from diverse regions of Canada. The selected finalists will participate in a final round, in person, at the MacMillan Theatre in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto (March 29, 2010), with accommodation and travel costs provided for finalists who don’t live in the Toronto area. All finalists will rehearse the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra for between 30 and 40 minutes in selections drawn from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Op. 96, and Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14.

Previous awards have gone to young composers, conductors, instrumental and vocal performers, early musicians, chamber musicians, collaborative pianists and music educators. The 2008 award was offered in the area of research in Canadian music and benefited Meghan Forsyth of Toronto, a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, whose research was focused on traditional Acadian violin music in Prince Edward Island. Some of the other young Canadians who have benefited from this award are Bernard Labadie, for Choral and Orchestral Conducting; Jens Lindemann (tumpet) and James Sommerville (horn); soprano Meredith Hall, for Early Music; composer Chester Jankowski; conductor Rosemary Thompson, and the Tokai String Quartet of Toronto.

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