Lawrence Cherney – 2017 Life Achievement Award

At the age of nineteen, Lawrence Cherney was invited to perform with the CBC Symphony under Igor Stravinski. For nearly fifty years, he has been at the forefront of Canadian music. Frequently referred to as “Canada’s Ambassador of New Music”. his paramount role in the commissioning, developing, producing, performing, touring and recording of new Canadian music is legendary.

It has been his destiny to be a pioneer in Canadian music: charter member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (1969-72); Founding Member of the York Winds (1972-82); Founding Artistic Director of the summer festival Music at Sharon (1981-1994);and Founding Artistic Director of Soundstreams (1982-present).

He has commissioned over 150 new Canadian works for the oboe, and has collaborated with most of contemporary music’s giants. He has toured throughout North America, Europe, and Israel as recitalist and guest artist with major orchestras and string quartets, and has recorded for numerous labels and European radio networks, gathering five Juno nominations and prizes at the European Broadcasting Union. In 2003, he was invested in the Order of Canada.

Lawrence’s passion for excellence in the pursuit of Canadian music inspired him to expand his horizons beyond performing. Music at Sharon was renowned as a showcase for Canadian music and was the most broadcast festival in the country on CBC Radio 2. Under his leadership, Soundstreams has grown to become one of the most dynamic organizations of its kind in the world, ans has commissioned 170 new Canadian works in all genres. It produces an eclectic MainStage series, the Ear Candy series in more intimate venues, and a new monthly outreach/performance series, Encounters. The organization has  a state-of-the-art web platform, including its innovative SoundMakers project. The annual Emerging Composers Workshop provides high quality mentorship to gifted young composers.

Lawrence has forged bold new directions in this, SoundStreams’ 35th anniversary season. The organization recently gave the world premiere staging of Claude Vivier’s Musik fur das Ende. Attended by thirteen international artistic directors, it received a rave full-page review from The New York Times. Tours to major venues and festivals in the USA and Europe are now projected for 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Canada continues to produce some of the finest composers in the world, but they merit greater recognition at home and abroad. Lawrence Cherney has dedicated an entire career to providing a national and international platform for their talents as means of creating a lasting legacy for their work. For these efforts, and for his lasting impact on musical life in Toronto and across the country, the Toronto Musicians’ Association is proud to present Lawrence Cherney with its Lifetime Achievement Award.