Maestro Nézet-Séguin was nominated by the Orchestre Métropolitain. While the award is traditionally presented in person, this year required rethinking the tradition, and the award announcement was made through this video, which celebrates Yannick’s involvement and music making with several Canadian orchestras from coast-to-coast.
The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has made a sustained and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community, with an emphasis on leadership, education and volunteerism. It was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director. Past winners include distinguished musicians, volunteers, educators, ensembles, and arts managers: a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s inclusive vision for Canadian orchestras.
Maestro Nézet-Séguin is an internationally renowned, proudly Canadian, proudly Québécois conductor. In September 2018, he became the third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012 and Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain since 2000, he is also Honorary Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (after serving as Music Director, 2008 to 2018), and Honorary Member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In September 2019, he signed a life-time contract with the Orchestre Métropolitain. A Deutsche Grammophon artist, Maestro Nézet-Séguin has a significant and diverse discography.
In response to receiving the award, Yannick Nézet-Séguin said: “Dear musicians across Canada, I am deeply honoured to receive the Betty Webster Award from Orchestras Canada. The Canadian orchestral scene abounds in talent and, while we are going through a rough patch these days, I am one of those who remain hopeful and believe we must stand together in the coming months. To the entire musical world, to musicians across the country, bravo and thank you for your many initiatives. It warms my heart to receive this honour.”
The award includes a plaque and a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing. M. Nézet-Séguin has asked that this year’s donation be directed to the Orchestre symphonique de l’École Joseph-François Perrault.
The national jury was chaired by OC board member and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Director of Artistic Operations, Jennifer MacDonald, and included last year’s laureate, Claire Guimond (flutist and founder/long-time artistic director of Arion Orchestre Baroque, Montreal QC); Chris Lee (tuba, National Arts Centre Orchestra); Eric Mathis (Director of Artistic Administration and trombonist, Symphony Nova Scotia, Halifax NS); Leanne Miners (arts manager, North Bay ON); and Jeffrey Ryan (composer, Vancouver BC).
Speaking about the Award, jury chair Jennifer MacDonald noted, “our jury was, as always, inspired by the nominations: people and groups whose contributions are felt regionally, nationally and internationally. It was a genuine privilege to be reminded of the many ways that Canadians are making an impact on the orchestral world. Ultimately, though, one particular nomination rose to the top, and we are honoured to name Yannick Nézet-Séguin as this year’s winner. He is a remarkable musician, visionary and humanitarian, and he continues to promote Canadian music and musicians on the world stage.”