Nominations Open for the Betty Webster Prize 2019

Orchestras Canada has just opened nominations for the 2019 Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award, our way of recognizing outstanding contributions to the Canadian orchestral community. This annual prize celebrates those who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian orchestras, and provides us with an opportunity to champion the accomplishments of our colleagues. Established in 2002 to honour OC’s founding Executive Director, the Award pays tribute to the late Betty Webster’s accomplishments in her advancement of Orchestras Canada and its members. In particular, sustained and significant contributions in the areas of leadership, education and volunteerism are honoured. Click here for more information, on the nomination process.

Orchestras Canada selects VSO Music Director Bramwell Tovey for Betty Webster Award 2018

The award recognizes Tovey’s long history of leadership in the Canadian orchestral community

Bramwell Tovey is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2018. Maestro Tovey will receive the award at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s June 30th outdoor concert, the first of three performances at the Olympic Plaza on the Canada Day long weekend. The annual appearances of the VSO and the Whistler Institute Orchestra are presented by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Province of British Columbia.

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 and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of orchestras right across Canada.

Bramwell Tovey is concluding his tenure as the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra he has led since 2000. In this time, he was relentless in his pursuit of excellence for the orchestra, programming works that would challenge, engage and inspire the musicians and the audience. His trademark charisma and charm, as well as his willingness to conduct a wide range of concerts (from classical to pops to education) have seen the VSO attract new audiences and retain a loyal following among the concert-going public of Vancouver. Tovey also takes an active role in the education initiatives of the VSO. He currently serves as the Artistic Advisor to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler and was a driving force behind the 2011 opening of the VSO School of Music.

Before his arrival at the VSO, Maestro Tovey was the Music Director at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, where he started the Winnipeg New Music Festival. Between his appointments with the WSO and the VSO, he has dedicated almost 30 years to the advancement of orchestras and symphonic music in Canada. Throughout that time, he has been committed to promoting Canadian artists and composers and has demonstrated his belief in music accessibility for all. Alongside those appointments, Tovey served as for 11 seasons as conductor and host of the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics and has as held titled positions with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the LA Philharmonic at Hollywood Bowl, and guest conducted across Canada, the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. He now serves as Director of Orchestral and Conducting Studies at Boston University, and is the Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, Etobicoke Philharmonic), and included arts manager Ardyth Brott (Brott Music Festival/National Academy Orchestra—and winner of the 2017 Betty Webster Award), conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser (Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador, Symphony Nova Scotia), arts manager Margot Holmes (Vancouver Island Symphony and Caline Arts Management), and violinist Adriana Lebedovich (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra).

Speaking about the Award, jury chair Matthew Jones noted, “Once again, the Betty Webster Award jury was greatly impressed by the thoughtful and powerful work being accomplished by individuals and organizations across Canada. The jury was particularly inspired by the impact Bramwell Tovey has had on the cultural landscape of British Columbia, Manitoba and, indeed, all of Canada. It is an honour for us to be able to recognize Maestro Tovey’s commitment to excellence, leadership on and off the podium, advocacy on behalf of music and musicians, volunteerism, and sustained commitment to music education at the VSO School of Music and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler.”

In response to the award, Bramwell Tovey said, “I’m deeply honoured to receive the Betty Webster award from Orchestras Canada. Betty Webster was a remarkable woman whose tireless devotion to Canadian orchestras was inspirational. I was lucky enough to fall within her orbit on arriving in Canada in 1989 and to be one of her legion of friends and supporters. I’d particularly like to pay tribute to the orchestra musicians with whom I’ve worked most closely in Vancouver and Winnipeg these last thirty years. It’s been a privilege and honour to make music with them all. Sincere thanks to Orchestras Canada for this award and for continuing to represent Canada’s wonderful orchestras across the country.”

Other recent winners of the Betty Webster Award include arts managers John Gomez in 2016 (Music Director, Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy), Annemarie Petrov in 2014 (President & CEO, Edmonton Symphony), and Jeff Alexander in 2009 (former President & CEO, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), double bassist Alison Mackay in 2013 (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra), and several organizations such as Tafelmusik (2009), the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (2008) and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (2007).

Driving Creative Force for Music in Canada Wins National Award

Ardyth BrottArdyth Brott, Executive Director for the Brott Music Festival, is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2017.

Ms Brott will receive the Award at a Brott Music Festival concert during the 2017 festival.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to one 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, and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of Canada’s orchestral community.

The award includes a plaque along with a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing.

Ms Brott has asked that this year’s donation be directed to the Hamilton-based National Academy Orchestra, an organization with a 29-year track record of training emerging professional orchestral musicians through intensive work with guest concertmasters and mentors from across the country, guest conductors, and internationally-renowned soloists, and performance opportunities ranging from full orchestra to opera to chamber music. To date, over 1400 young musicians have graduated from the NAO, and many of them are now working throughout Canada and around the world.

Ardyth Brott has served as Executive Director of the Brott Music Festival 30 years, and the National Academy Orchestra for 29 years. A graduate of Western University’s Faculty of Law, she was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995; in addition, she is a best-selling author of children’s books (including the musically-inspired “Jeremy’s Decision”, “The Loneliest Piano”, and “Pepe’s Magic Bow”), and a valued community volunteer (serving in key roles at the Hamilton Club, and the National Gallery of Canada, among others). She has applied her literary gifts to the creation of scripts for ground-breaking music education programs (including “Beethoven and the Bully”, “Isabella Tarantella”, and “The Inuit Spirit”), connecting contemporary issues and orchestral music through story-telling.

Coincidentally, Ardyth Brott is the daughter of Betty Webster. Although she was as surprised as Ardyth was to hear the news, Betty of course is absolutely delighted!

This year’s national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra), and included Vancouver arts manager Leanne Davis (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Ottawa violinist, conductor, educator (and 2016 winner of the Betty Webster Award) John Gomez (Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy), Montreal arts manager Barbara Scales (Latitude 45 Arts Management), and Charlottetown’s Bruce Craig (PEI Symphony Orchestra).

Speaking about the award, jury chair Matthew Jones said, “The jury saw Ardyth Brott as a prima inter pares: someone whose exceptional contributions to the Canadian orchestral community are seen most clearly in the context of the other remarkable individuals and organizations shaping Canada’s lively and diverse orchestral culture. The jury was struck by Ardyth’s depth of involvement in the organizations she has served, her sustained support for youth involvement in music, and the lasting impact her work has had for numerous generations of professional orchestral musicians in Canada and beyond. It is an honour to be able to acknowledge this work.”

Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy Founder Wins National Award

John Gomez, founder and music director of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA), is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2016.  Mr. Gomez was the unanimous choice of a national jury.

Mr. Gomez will receive the Award at an OYOA event in the 2016-17 season.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to one 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, and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of Canada’s orchestral community. The award includes a plaque along with a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing.

Mr. Gomez has asked that this year’s donation be directed to the OYOA, to assist with the cost of lessons for beginning students of “rare” instruments of the orchestra, including bassoon, double bass, French horn, and harp.

John Gomez is entering his 35th year as founding Music Director of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA) and conductor of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, the academy’s flagship group.  He is an active leader in the Canadian orchestral scene who has dedicated his career to preparing young musicians for successful careers in music, and through his commitment to collaboration, has formed many partnerships in Ottawa, across Canada, and around the world.  He is an educator with a passion for teaching, and sets exceptionally high standards for himself and the young people he works with.  He is a visionary and a strategist, who has devoted countless hours to the cause of engaging young people in music, starting with a strings program in the early 1980s, and culminating in today’s OYOA:  a program that now boasts two full orchestras, and eighteen (nineteen next year) additional ensembles, made up of over 350 students who meet every Saturday morning to make music.

The national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra), and included Edmonton arts leader Annemarie Petrov (Edmonton Symphony/Frances Winspear Centre for Music), Ontario-based solo bassoonist and teacher Nadina Mackie Jackson, Montreal musician and volunteer Louise Richard (Association des orchestres de jeunes du Québec), and Moncton’s Ken Macleod (New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and Sistema NB).

Speaking about the Award, jury chair Matthew Jones noted that “John Gomez’s win is all the more impressive considering the exceptional calibre of his fellow nominees, representing a cross section of the Canadian orchestral community: educators, conductors, managers, and individual musicians. The jury responded to the excellence of John’s work, his unstinting and sustained commitment to youth involvement in music, his leadership, and the impact that he’s clearly had on more than a generation of Canadian professional orchestral musicians.  It is an honour to be able to recognize this work.”