Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards winners

The laureates for the 2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards were announced today in Calgary.

Pianist Janina Fialkowska, dancer/choreographer Paul-André Fortier, Quebec theatre director Denis Marleau, filmmaker Deepa Mehta, the rock group Rush and actress/comedian Mary Walsh have been named the 2012 laureates of the prestigious Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the ultimate recognition in Canada's performing arts. These individuals are being recognized for their outstanding body of work and enduring contribution to the performing arts in Canada. Presented annually since 1992, these Awards are bestowed by Canadians to Canadians whose accomplishments have inspired and enriched the cultural life of our country.

In addition, Earlaine Collins won the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts, while Des McAnuff, Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director and a Tony winner for his production of Jersey Boys, was named recipient of the National Arts Centre Award for exceptional achievement over the past year.

The 20th Governor General’s Performing Arts Gala honouring the recipients will take place on May 5 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.


2012 recipients of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards

Janina Fialkowska

2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Classical Music)
For over 35 years, concert pianist Janina Fialkowska has been enchanting audiences and critics around the world with her lyrical interpretations of the classical and Romantic repertoire, particularly Chopin, Mozart and Liszt. She has appeared as a guest soloist with prestigious international ensembles, and her discography includes several JUNO-nominated recordings. As the founder of the Piano Six music outreach program, she has championed works by Canadian composers and brought the joy of live classical music to thousands of Canadians living in remote communities.

Ms. Fialkowska was born in Montreal in 1951 and studied piano in Montreal, Paris (with Yvonne Lefébure) and New York (at the Juilliard School with Sascha Gorodnitzki). She made her debut as a piano soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11, and placed first in the 1969 CBC National Talent Festival.

Her career was launched in 1974, when renowned pianist Arthur Rubinstein became her mentor after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural Master Piano Competition. Since then she has performed with the foremost orchestras in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and has won special recognition for a series of important premieres, notably Liszt’s newly discovered Third Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony in 1990.

As the founding director (1993) of the Chalmers Award-winning Piano Six project and its successor, Piano Plus, she has brought some of Canada’s greatest classical music artists together with Canadians who, for geographical or financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to experience this calibre of live performance.

In 2002 Ms. Fialkowska developed a malignant tumour in her left arm. Undaunted, she transcribed and performed (with her right hand) the left-hand concertos of Ravel and Prokofiev. After successful surgery, she resumed her two-handed career in 2004.

“My thing about playing the piano is the lyricism,” she says. “That’s why I’m so happy playing Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann, because that’s where I find that lyricism. I feel I’m doing what I was meant to do in life, what I can do well.”

Awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (2001), the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award (2007), the Turzanski Foundation Award (2011), and honorary doctorates from Acadia and Queen’s Universities.

Paul-André Fortier

2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Dance)
Dancer and choreographer Paul-André Fortier is internationally renowned for dance that is marked by innovation, renewal, and a desire to defy convention. In a career spanning over three decades he has created 49 original works, given more than 750 performances in a dozen countries, and received numerous awards. Constantly challenging himself to meet the highest artistic standards, he has dedicated his professional life to contemporary dance at an unparalleled level of excellence and has inspired an entire generation of choreographers. Describing himself simply as “a man who dances,” he continues to perform all over the world and to create works for his own company and other ensembles and artists in Canada and abroad.

Born in 1948 in Waterville, Quebec, Mr. Fortier entered the world of dance in 1973 as a member of Le Groupe Nouvelle Aire, one of the most innovative choreographic companies in Canada at the time. In 1981 he established his own company, Fortier Danse-Création. He also co-founded (with Daniel Jackson) Montréal Danse in 1986, and taught dance at UQÁM for 10 years.

As one of the founders of the powerful contemporary dance movement that originated in Montreal, he pioneered a form of dance that blends theatrical elements with the tensions and ambiguities of the modern world. He has frequently collaborated with other leading artists, including dancer Peggy Baker, multimedia artist Betty Goodwin, writer, musician and visual artist Rober Racine, composer Alain Thibault, videographers Patrick Masbourian and Takao Minami, and composer and violin virtuoso Malcolm Goldstein.

In the late 1980s he embarked on a solo adventure with a trilogy of landmark pieces: Les Males Heures, 1989; La Tentation de la transparence, 1991; and Bras de plomb, 1993. His most recent solo is Solo 30x30, a 30 minute piece presented outdoors in urban spaces at the same time every day for 30 consecutive days. Since its premiere in 2006, Mr. Fortier has performed the work more than 420 times in 14 cities in North America, Europe and Asia, in highly diverse venues and under a wide variety of weather conditions.

Awards and honours include the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Choreography (1981); Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Choreography (1993, for La Tentation de la transparence); Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France (2009).

Denis Marleau

2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Theatre)
A major figure in Quebec theatre, Denis Marleau is a director, production designer, adaptor, and creator of stage installations whose reputation extends far beyond Canada’s borders. His artistic approach is distinguished by his challenging literary choices, meticulous direction, and innovative use of audio and video technology. Drawing freely from visual arts and literature, his productions also propose an investigation of language and the limits of stage performance. He is regularly featured at Montreal’s Festival TransAmériques and at prestigious festivals around the world, including the Avignon Festival, and in 2011 he became the first Canadian invited to direct a play at the Comédie-Française in Paris.

Denis Marleau was born in 1954 in Valleyfield, Quebec. He studied acting at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal and in Europe before founding the innovative theatre company UBU in 1982, which he co-directs with Stéphanie Jasmin. As head of the National Arts Centre French Theatre (2000–07) he founded the Laboratoires du Théâtre français, a training opportunity for Canadian theatre practitioners, and has given theatre workshops in Canada, Europe and Mexico.

Mr. Marleau first attracted attention for his collage productions based on works by 20th-century avant-garde and modernist writers—Schwitters, Beckett, Pessoa, Bernhard, etc. Known for his unique interpretations of the classics (Seneca, Shakespeare, Goethe), he has also directed plays by contemporary writers, including Normand Chaurette, Jon Fosse, José Pliya, and Elfriede Jelinek. To this wide-ranging repertoire he brings his signature attention to formal consistency, guided by his concept of a theatre that puts the text first and foremost.

His directing credits include Merz Opéra (1987), Les Ubs (1991), Roberto Zucco (1993), Maîtres anciens (1995), Nathan le sage (1997), Les Reines (2005), Othello (2007), Une fête pour Boris (2009), and Agamemnon (2011). His “technological phantasmagoria” Les aveugles (2002) was acclaimed by the international press and is still touring worldwide, 10 years and some 700 performances after it premiered at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

Awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (2011), Recognition Award from the Conseil des arts de Montréal (1996), National Arts Centre Award/GGPAA (1998), Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec (1999), Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France (2002), several awards from the Association québécoise des critiques and the Académie des masques, and honorary doctorates from UQÀM and the Université Lumière Lyon 2.

Deepa Mehta

2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Film)
Award-winning director and screenwriter Deepa Mehta is one of Canada’s most influential and respected filmmakers. She has been described as a “transnational” artist, able to tell universally meaningful stories from a uniquely Canadian point of view. In a career spanning over 30 years she has consistently broken new ground, tackling such controversial issues as intolerance, cultural discrimination and domestic violence. Best known for her elemental trilogy (Fire, Earth, and Water), she is an artist of uncompromising integrity whose exceptional creative achievement is matched by her contribution to human rights, social issues, and diversity within Canada and around the world.

Ms. Mehta was born in Amritsar, India, and moved to Canada after completing a degree in philosophy at the University of Delhi.

At the core of her work are her vast interest in and compassion for people of all cultural and social backgrounds. Her career ranges widely, from her first feature, Sam and Me (1991, Special Jury Mention, Caméra d’Or section at Cannes) to the elemental trilogy; from the light-hearted comedy Bollywood/Hollywood to her ambitious adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children. Her films have played at major international film festivals, won numerous awards, and been distributed in over 50 countries.

Her courage as a filmmaker and human rights advocate has occasionally exposed her to danger: cinemas in India were burned when her movie Fire was released in 1996, and production of Water was delayed for four years after mobs of fundamentalist extremists terrorized the film production, destroyed the sets, and issued death threats against Ms. Mehta and the actors. When finally completed, Water was nominated for nine Genies (winning three) and an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

She serves on the board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Toronto International Film Festival, and on the Minister’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture (Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport).

Awards and honours include the CineAsia Best Director Award (2003); Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film (2007 Academy Awards); YWCA Women of Distinction Award (2008); Canadian Civil Liberties Association Excellence in the Arts Award (2011); Canadian Centre for Diversity Life of Distinction Award (2011); Indian International Film Awards Global Leadership Award (2011); named one of Canada’s Top 100 most powerful women (Women’s Executive Network, 2011); honorary doctorates from five Canadian universities.


2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Popular Music)
Canadian power trio Rush is one of rock music’s most influential and highly regarded bands, ranking third in the world (after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band. They have released 39 albums and over 70 singles, sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, and garnered 24 gold and 14 platinum records, and their benefit performances have raised more than $1 million for Canadian charities. Few groups in the history of popular music can approach Rush for longevity, creativity, body of work, and dedication to their art. Nearly 40 years after their arrival on the scene, they maintain a busy touring and recording schedule, to the delight of their loyal fans around the world.

Rush band members Geddy Lee (bass guitar, keyboard and lead vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitar) and Neil Peart (drums) are known for their musical virtuosity, innovation, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrics often inspired by science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy.

Rush’s impressive discography started in 1974 with their self-titled debut album (featuring the hit single “Working Man”). Highlights include Fly by Night (“Fly by Night”), the breakthrough 2112 (a futuristic concept album with a 20-minute title track), Farewell to Kings (“Closer to the Heart”), Permanent Waves (“The Spirit of Radio,” “Freewill”), Moving Pictures (“Tom Sawyer,” “YYZ,” “Limelight”), Signals (“New World Man”), Roll the Bones (“Roll the Bones”), and Snakes & Arrows (“Far Cry”). Their 20th studio album, Clockwork Angels, was released in spring 2012.

Messrs. Lee, Lifeson and Peart are Officers of the Order of Canada (appointed in 1996, the first band so honoured). Among other distinctions, the band has won eight JUNO awards and been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1994), the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame (2003) and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), and received a star on both Canada’s Walk of Fame (1999) and Hollywood Walk of Fame (2010). Rush was profiled in the 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, directed by Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, which won the coveted Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award and the JUNO for Best Music DVD.

Mary Walsh

2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Broadcasting)
Mary Walsh has made an unparalleled contribution to broadcasting in Canada as a writer, performer, director, comedian, and political satirist. She is best known for her work on the hit CBC TV comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes (which she created), portraying such memorable characters as Dakey Dunn, Connie Bloor, and the legendary “Princess Warrior” Marg Delahunty, notorious for her ambush interviews with Canadian public figures. In a career spanning close to 40 years, Ms. Walsh has deftly lampooned our national icons and raised our political awareness, and her work has garnered numerous awards.

Born in 1952 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Ms. Walsh is a founding member (1973) of CODCO, Newfoundland’s award-winning comedy troupe. “We were going to turn St. John’s into the theatrical centre of North America,” she recalls. “We haven’t done it yet, but it’s only been 40 years, so we still have a chance.” The company’s first production, Cod on a Stick (launched with $300 from 2011 GGPAA recipient Paul Thompson, then artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille), was a smash hit and led to a CBC TV comedy series that ran for six seasons.

For CBC TV, she developed (1993) the multiple Gemini Award-winning satirical news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, still going strong and one of Canada’s most successful television ventures. She created and hosted the literary talk show Mary Walsh: Open Book (2003), and wrote, produced and starred in the sitcom Hatching, Matching and Dispatching (2006, two Gemini Awards).

Film appearances include Mambo Italiano, Geraldine’s Fortune, Buried on Sunday, The Divine Ryans, and Young Triffie (which she also wrote, produced and directed). She made her opera debut in April 2012 with the Manitoba Opera as the (non-singing) Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, and is working on her first novel.

A committed activist, Ms. Walsh supports the St. John’s Resource Centre for the Arts, Oxfam Canada, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. and the Make Poverty History movement. She was profiled in the 1999 CBC TV documentary Princess Warrior: The Life and Times of Mary Walsh.

Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (2000), 25 Gemini Awards, and honorary doctorates from five Canadian universities.

Earlaine Collins

2012 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts
Earlaine Collins has been a supporter of the performing arts in Canada for more than 45 years. She has donated time, talent and capital to leading cultural organizations, notably the Canadian Opera Company (COC), the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic, and has provided personal and financial support to numerous emerging Canadian artists. She is a passionate ambassador for the performing arts, and her vision, determination and generosity have served as an inspiration to volunteers and artists alike.

As a member of the Canadian Opera House Corporation Campaign Cabinet, she helped raise $186 million to establish Canada’s first purpose-built opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Inaugurated in 2006, the building marked the triumphant culmination of what then COC general director Richard Bradshaw (1944–2007, recipient of a 2006 GGPAA) called his “Thirty Years’ War” to get a professional-quality opera house in Toronto.

Mrs. Collins is president of the Gerard and Earlaine Collins Foundation, which she and her late husband established in 1989. Cultural institutions that have benefited from the foundation’s support include the National Ballet of Canada, Canada’s National Ballet School, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Children’s Opera Company, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto Summer Music Foundation, Aldeburgh Connection, University of Toronto School of Music, Regent Park School of Music, and many more.

“I particularly enjoy sponsoring young artists and watching them grow and mature,” she says. “It’s an incredible personal opportunity: you get back tenfold what you give.”

Her voluntarism extends beyond the arts: she is active with the Havergal College Foundation, and supports the SickKids Music Therapy Program for Palliative Care (Toronto Hospital for Sick Children), St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Mount Sinai Hospital, and World Wildlife Fund (Canada). In 1988, she and her late husband helped establish the House of Compassion of Toronto, a permanent residence for people living with mental illness.

Des McAnuff

2012 National Arts Centre Award
Tony, Olivier and Dora Award-winning director, writer and composer Des McAnuff is the artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His acclaimed production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, presented at Stratford in summer 2011, also garnered rave reviews at La Jolla Playhouse in California and opened on Broadway in March 2012.

In 2012, his fifth season as artistic director at Stratford, Mr. McAnuff will direct Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two. Previous Stratford productions include Twelfth Night, The Tempest starring Christopher Plummer, As You Like It, Macbeth starring Colm Feore, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Romeo and Juliet, and Caesar and Cleopatra starring Christopher Plummer. Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Caesar and Cleopatra were also filmed for DVD and Canadian theatrical release, playing to sold-out audiences across the country.

Des McAnuff was born in 1952 and grew up in Toronto, where he attended Ryerson University and was part of the city’s burgeoning theatre scene in the 1970s. In 1976 he moved to New York, directing for the Broadway Academy of Music, The Public Theatre, and the New York Shakespeare Festival.

His Broadway credits include Guys and Dolls, Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention, Jersey Boys (Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Musical), Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays (Tony Award), How to Succeed..., The Who’s Tommy (director/co-author with Pete Townshend, Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Director; Olivier: Best Musical), A Walk in the Woods, and Big River (Tony Awards: Best Director, Best Musical).

He is the former artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse, where he directed over 30 productions of Shakespeare and other classics, new plays and musicals, and transformed the Playhouse into one of America’s leading regional theatres.

He has also brought his creative talents to opera (directing Faust at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera, and Wozzeck at San Diego Opera) and film: Cousin Bette and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (director), The Iron Giant (producer), and Quills (executive producer).

Awards and honours include the Julia Hansen Award (2005) for lifetime achievement in directing, and an honorary doctorate from Ryerson University.

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