Ottawa, October 20, 2009 – Internationally renowned flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken 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); Jani Lauzon, multi-disciplinary Metis 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 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.”
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, principal dancer/producer-director Veronica Tennant and playwright John Murrell.
Among his many awards are the Order of Canada, The Canada Music Citation, the Wm. Harold Moon Award, the Canadian Music Medal, The Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award and “Chevalier de l¹ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (France).
Some 50 works have been written for him by noted composers including Henry Brant, George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Roger Reynolds, Arne Nordheim, Manuel Enriquez, R. Murray Schafer, Gilles Tremblay, Bruce Mather, John Beckwith and John Weinzweig. He has more than 40 recordings to his credit.