David Virelles Wins the Louis Applebaum Composers Award

Composer and pianist David Virelles has won the Louis Applebaum Composers Award. This year's $10, 000 award recognizes excellence in a body of work by an emerging artist in the field of jazz composition.

Born and raised in Santiago de Cuba, to a musical family, David Virelles started to play the piano at the age of 7 and began composing at age 13. Classically trained in one of Cuba's prestigious music schools, Virelles developed an interest in jazz listening to his grandfather's record collection. Virelles has gained recognition for creating his own distinctive sound, in which improvisation within different structures is one of the most important components.

Based in Toronto since 2001, 25 year old Virelles studied at the University of Toronto, and at Humber College, where he won the first Oscar Peterson Award. His compositions have been featured on several groups/projects including his quintet, as well as Jane Bunnett and Spirits of Havana, the Neil Swainson Quartet, Francisco Mela, Roberto Occhipinti Quartet and the Roman Filiu Quartet. The CBC commissioned Virelles to write music to pay tribute to Glenn Gould on the 75th anniversary of his birthday. The piece, which featured Virelles and his quintet as well as the Penderecki String Quartet, was inspired by Gould's documentary, "The Idea of the North". Winner of numerous awards, his debut album "Motion" on the Justin Time label features original compositions performed by his group.

David Virelles joins a group of impressive winners. The first Louis Applebaum Composers Award, presented to Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer in 1999, was a lifetime achievement award that recognized both excellence in composition and the impact of a composer's work on society. Alexina Louie and Alex Pauk were the second recipients of the Award, which recognized excellence in film and television composition. Composer James Rolfe, one of Canada's leading contemporary composers, received the third award for his outstanding work in the field of opera.

The Louis Applebaum Composers Fund was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation in 1998 by Louis Applebaum to recognize excellence in music composition of any genre. "Canadian composer Louis Applebaum devoted his life to the cultural awakening of Canada, and this "magnificent obsession" drove him to become a founder of the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre. He was an instrumental figure in the early development of the National Film Board, the Stratford Festival, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. For nearly half a century he composed music for the Stratford Festival, television, radio and films". (from Louis Applebaum, A Passion for Culture by Walter Pitman, Dundurn Press)

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the Louis Applebaum Composers Award. The Ontario Arts Council administered the selection process working with jury members Jane Bunnett, composer and musician, Ajay Heble, Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival and Ross Porter, President and CEO of JAZZ.FM91.

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