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  3. Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts

Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts

Don Ross posing with a harp guitar

Don Ross posing with a harp guitar, made by Marc Beneteau in St Thomas, Ontario

Current Winner

Don Ross

Don Ross, BFA, MFA, was born in Montréal to a Mi’kmaq mother and a Scottish immigrant father. He studied composition at York University, in Toronto, before devoting himself to playing solo guitar. Don cites Michael Hedges, Steve Reich, and Keith Jarrett as the main musical influences that paved the way for his artistic career. In 1988, Don became the first Canadian to win the U.S. Finger Style Guitar Championship, which allowed him to gain visibility and sign his first contract with a record company. He has dedicated three decades of his life to composing, recording, and touring nationally as well as internationally, and he is recognized as one of the most innovative fingerstyle guitarists of his time. Since earning a master's degree in orchestration in 2021, Don spends most of his time composing orchestrations for guitar and chamber orchestras as well as for film, television, and video games.

To learn more about Don Ross visit his website.

Discover more about Don Ross in our latest Spotlight.

What is this prize?

The Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts recognizes the highest level of artistic merit and distinguished career achievement by a Canadian professional artist in music, theatre or dance. The prize is awarded on a four-year cycle in dance, theatre, dance and music.

Who created this prize?

Walter Carsen established this fund with a generous $1.1 million donation to the Canada Council for the Arts in 2001.

For more information

Jennifer Cherniack

Program Officer, Prizes


1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext. 5265


April 2022


Prize amount


By nomination



Nomination Form (DOC) 

Updated guidelines will be posted 2 months prior to the deadline. Submit your nomination to waltercarsen-prizes@canadacouncil.ca

Cumulative list of winners

We are committed to equity in all our activities, including the administration of our prizes and awards.


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