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2022 Canadian Music Laureate

PhD Music student Rita Ueda has been awarded the prestigious title of 2022 Laureate for the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music, offered by the Azrieli Foundation – the most coveted title for composers in Canada. The accolade secures a prize package valued at $200,000 CAD which includes a world-premiere performance by the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal, two subsequent international performances and a professional recording of her prize-winning work.

A cutting-edge composer 

The acclaimed composer specialises in composing intercultural music, combining instruments from the symphony orchestra with traditional instruments such as the erhu (Chinese fiddle) and the kamancheh (Persian fiddle).  


Giving intercultural music a voice 

Rita was first introduced to intercultural music twenty years ago when she ran the Sonic Boom Festival in Canada. She was immediately drawn to the music and became inspired to create compositions for this completely new genre, providing harmony whilst celebrating uniqueness, for a diverse range of instruments. 


Winning the Laureate 

As a 2022 Laureate, Rita has been commissioned to write a new work entitled 'Birds Calling...from the Canada in You'. It continues her pursuit of a new transcultural musical identity without losing a sense of individuality. This new composition will incorporate Japanese, Chinese and Western musical traditions within a uniquely Canadian bird soundscape. The result will be a 25-minute double concerto for suona (Chinese double-reed horn), sho (Japanese mouth organ) and orchestra and will be performed by the Orchestre Métropolitain on 20 October 2022. 

“Often the only female, only Asian composer amongst my peers, this award recognises those voices. It warms my heart.” Rita Ueda on receiving the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music. 


The Azrieli Music Prizes 

The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music is one of three prizes in the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes competition. It is offered to a Canadian composer to create a new musical work that creatively and critically engages with the complexities of composing concert music in Canada today.  

In commenting on her proposal, the jury said, “Rita Ueda brings rigour and care to her music. Her proposal is well-researched and interesting in the ways that it confronts tensions in and between cultures by viewing birdsong through an intercultural lens. It is a well-considered, generous and integrated idea for expressing the diversity of Canadian society, where all individuals can be valued for what they bring to the whole.” 


Musical excellence at Durham University 

Rita’s prestigious award follows on from our recent announcement that the university is now the largest All-Steinway school in the UK. 

"I choose to study for my PhD at Durham because I believe It's the best for research." Rita Ueda 


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