The Schulich School of Music at McGill University has chosen Thierry Tidrow as the winner of the Inaugural Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers.
The $15,000 first prize for Tidrow’s new work for piano quintet, Quicksilver, was among $45,000 in prizes awarded at a concert and gala September 29 at Pollack Hall.
This new competition for Canadian composers under 35 was founded by Dr. Graham Sommer (1946-2016), a graduate of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and an accomplished pianist and devoted music lover. The event was attended by the late Dr. Sommer’s wife, Denise Leclair.
Five finalists, chosen from 84 applicants from across Canada and Canadians living and studying abroad, were each commissioned to write a new work for piano quintet, premiered by pianist Sara Laimon and the Molinari Quartet.
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Tidrow, a Franco-Ontarian composer from Ottawa, living in Berlin, was thrilled to win the prize on his 32nd birthday. “As a freelance composer, this prize allows me to be committed to write more music,” he said. “It was a big challenge to find how I could express myself in a work for piano quintet, a formation with so much history. With Quicksilver, I tried to use strings in a different way, almost slipping out of the players’ fingers.”
Tidrow, who graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Music in 2009, expressed his gratitude to his teachers Christoph Neidhöfer and Brian Cherney, as well as Schulich School of Music faculty Jean Lesage and Peter Schubert.
His studies in Montreal were followed by a master’s degree in composition from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and an Advanced Studies diploma at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg. A winner of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Jules-Léger Prize, Tidrow has collaborated with performers across Europe and North America.
A second prize of $10,000 was awarded to Ashkan Behzadi, with the $5,000 third, fourth, and fifth prizes going to Christopher Goddard, Taylor Brook, and Alison Yun-Fei Jiang. Jiang’s In Absent Waters was also awarded the $5,000 Audience Choice Award, voted for by the audience at the concert as well as online.