musician Brian Current

Meet the latest #CCPrizes winners!

November 22, 2018
Brian Current
Photo credit: Bo Huang

The Canada Council for the Arts offers an array of prizes that recognize excellence in a variety of art forms. Congratulations to five 2018 prize winners who are shaping Canada’s arts and culture scene.

Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts

Bill Coleman

The Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts ($50,000) recognizes the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by a Canadian professional artist in music, theatre or dance.

This year, the prize went to Bill Coleman, a dancer and choreographer who has performed internationally with world-renowned companies. He has created a singular body of work that unites distant worlds in a celebration of “home”: the natural and cultural environment, community and the physical body itself. 

Throughout his career, Coleman has created deeply personal dances with family, complex pieces for the stage alongside internationally acclaimed artists, and urban and rural events with the collaboration of local residents. Born in Berwick, Nova Scotia, Coleman now calls Toronto home. He is currently touring his recent creations, Dollhouse and FELT.

Bill Coleman
Bill Coleman Photo: Michael Reinhart

From the very beginning of my career to this moment, I have been encouraged, supported and accompanied by exceptional First Nations artists, without whom many things would not have happened for me.

- Bill Coleman

Virginia Parker Prize

Blake Pouliot

The Virginia Parker Prize ($25,000) is awarded to a musician, instrumentalist or classical music conductor under the age of 32 who demonstrates outstanding talent, musicianship and artistic excellence and makes a valuable contribution to artistic life in Canada and internationally.

Blake Pouliot
Blake Pouliot Photo: Jeff Fasano Photography

Blake Pouliot—described by the Toronto Star as “one of those special talents that come along once in a lifetime”—is this year’s winner. Pouliot previously won the 2016 OSM Manulife Competition. Since his solo orchestral debut with the Toronto Trinity Chamber Orchestra at age 11, he has performed as a soloist with world-class orchestras, including the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, the NAC Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, and symphonies in Europe and South America. Blake Pouliot performs on the 1729 Guarneri del Gesù, a loan from the Canada Council’s Musical Instrument Bank.  He was also the recipient of the Canada Council’s Michael Measures Prize in 2013.

I am constantly finding myself drawn toward striking displays of creativity. Those who possess the ability to capture raw emotional passion and intensity with an apparent ease of execution are what really grab my attention and ignite my desire to pursue greatness.

- Blake Pouliot

The Canada–Japan Literary Awards

Kerri Sakamoto for her novel Floating City and Jacynthe Tremblay for her non-fiction essay Je suis un lieu

The Canada-Japan Literary Awards recognize literary excellence by Canadian writers and translators who are writing or translating from Japanese to French or English works dealing with Japan, Japanese themes, or themes that promote mutual understanding between Japan and Canada. Two prizes valued at $10,000 each are awarded (one for English-language work and one for French-language work).

Kerri Sakamoto is the Toronto-born author of three novels, The Electrical Field, One Hundred Million Hearts and Floating City. Her first book was nominated for several honours, including a Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (overall). The Electrical Field was selected for the Canada–Japan Literary Award in 2000. Her books form a trilogy that explores the experience of Japanese people in Canada.

Kerri Sakamoto
Kerri Sakamoto Photo: Daniel Tisch
Floating City by Kerry Sakamoto
Floating City by Kerri Sakamoto, Knopf Canada

Floating City pulls us into a narrative traversing generations, waterways, legends, and history. The ambition coursing through Frankie Hanasaka and his story of success is fostered by chance meetings and tempered by magic, myth, and the watchful eyes of his family. With an impressive agility to collage a range of inner and outer voices, Kerri Sakamoto weaves together a life from the shores of Port Alberni, to the shacks of Tashme, to the glimmering towers of Toronto and leaves us pondering how fortunes are made.

—Peer Assessment Committee, Canada–Japan Literary Awards

Originally from Chicoutimi, Quebec, Jacynthe Tremblay is a researcher at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. With a dual specialization in philosophy of religion and Japanese philosophy, she has contributed significantly to elucidating the philosophy of Nishida Kitarō—known as the founder of the Kyoto School of philosophy—in the West through a series of books and translations. Her current research focuses on the influence of the Theory of Relativity and of quantum mechanics (mainly Niels Bohr) on the development of Nishida’s philosophical concepts during the latter part of his life (1932 to 1945).

Jacynthe Tremblay
Jacynthe Tremblay Photo: Arupusu Shashinkan
Je suis un lieu by Jacynthe Tremblay
Je suis un lieu by Jacynthe Tremblay, Les Presse de l’Université de Montréal

This book makes a strong emotional and intellectual impact thanks to the brilliant way in which it connects Nishida’s philosophy with daily life. The author’s relevant, illuminating, moving and accessible examples of these connections are also always humorous. Her powerful writing affects our perception of the world.

– Peer Assessment Committee, Canada–Japan Literary Awards

Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music

Brian Current (winning composition: Shout, Sisyphus, Flock, 2016)

The Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music ($7,500) is a competition for Canadian composers designed to encourage the creation of new chamber music and foster its performance by Canadian chamber groups.

In 2018, the prize was awarded to Brian Current for his composition Shout, Sisyphus, Flock. Current’s music has been appreciated and celebrated in more than 35 countries. He has previously been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Barlow Prize for Orchestral Music (USA), and the Premio Fedora for Chamber Opera (Italy). In 2016, he won the inaugural Azrieli Commissioning Competition ($50,000).

Born in London, Ontario, and raised in Ottawa, Current now lives in Toronto, where he is director of the New Music Ensemble of the Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory.

Brian Current
Brian Current, composer Photo: Bo Huang

I am very fortunate to be able to conduct lots of great music written by my colleagues. This is hugely inspiring when it comes to composing. It’s remarkable because everyone, especially in a country like Canada, writes music that is strikingly different from one another. This plurality is the strength of our community, and I’m so grateful for it.

- Brian Current

Tagged As Prize Winners