In a moving ceremony, the Canadian League of Composers (CLC) and the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) presented  Tania Miller with the 2017 Friends of Canadian Music Award at her last concert conducting the Victoria Symphony as Music Director last Sunday, May 14 at the Royal Theatre in Victoria.

Composer Christopher Reiche, President of the Canadian League of Composers (CLC), and Sean Bickerton, BC Director of the Canadian Music Centre (CMC), made the presentation at the beginning of the concert, with Christopher Reiche speaking in tribute to Maestro Miller.

The concert featured the world premiere of Surge and Swell by Victoria Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence and CMC Associate Composer Jared Miller, a joyous study in playfulness and darkness, which opened with exuberant antiphonal voices and built to a thrilling climax.

Victoria violinist Timothy Chooi gave a consummate performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto which was simultaneously one of the most musical performances of the work this writer has ever heard as well as the most viscerally exciting! Rounding off the blockbuster program, Maestro Miller led the orchestra in a powerfully moving performance of Shostakovich 5.

The audience gave both the soloist after the Tchaikovsky, and Maestro Miller and the orchestra after the Shostakovich, rousing, cheering, standing ovations. At the end of the concert there were moving tributes to her by the President of the Board, and the Concertmaster of the orchestra, followed by a film featuring testimonials from Timothy Vernon and Bramwell Tovey and other colleagues.

Every year, the Friends of Canadian Music Award honours those who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment, on a national scale, to Canadian composers and their music. The CMC and CLC jointly administer and present this award. The Friends of Canadian Music Award is in the amount of $2000. The award is divided as follows: $1000 for the recipient and $1000 for an early-career composer or composition student of the recipient’s choice. This split is to help support a promising composer in the early stages of their career. Tania Miller has chosen to share the award with composer Carmyn Slater.

A jury consisting of Carmen Braden (N.W.T.), Richard Gibson (N.B.), and Elizabeth Knudson (B.C.), convened to review the current nominations for the award. Juror and CLC Awards Committee Chair Richard Gibson noted of Miller’s accomplishments:

As part of the jury mandated to select the 2017 recipient of the Friends of Canadian Music Award, I am pleased to confirm Maestra Tania Miller as our unanimous choice. Her frequent programming and commissioning of Canadian compositions, in addition to her enthusiastic encouragement of early-career composers, convinced us that she is the ideal candidate for this prize. 

Last February, CMC BC presented the Victoria Symphony with an Award of Excellence, with Bickerton noting at the time that: “Tania Miller has been a pioneer nationally in championing Canadian music and composers. Under her leadership, the Victoria Symphony was the first orchestra in BC to launch a New Music Festival, more than a decade ago in 2005.

“And the exemplary Victoria Symphony Composer In Residence program has brought some of the nation’s most visionary and celebrated composers to work in the city of Victoria since it was first established in 1999,” Bickerton stated, “with the appointment of Christopher Butterfield to the role.”