Share this story   

Durham student becomes Canadian Music Laureate

Durham inspires      
to read

PhD Music student Rita Ueda has been awarded the prestigious title of 2022 Laureate for the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music. Offered by the Azrieli Foundation, this is the most coveted title for composers in Canada.   

The accolade secures a prize package valued at $200,000 CAD which includes a world-premiere performance by the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal, two subsequent international performances and a professional recording of her prize-winning work.  

A cutting-edge composer  

The acclaimed composer specialises in composing intercultural music, combining instruments from the symphony orchestra with traditional instruments such as the erhu (Chinese fiddle) and the kamancheh (Persian fiddle).   

PhD Music student Rita Ueda
PhD Music student Rita Ueda

Giving intercultural music a voice  

Rita was first introduced to intercultural music 20 years ago when she ran the Sonic Boom Festival in Canada. She was immediately drawn to the music and became inspired to create compositions for this completely new genre, providing harmony while celebrating uniqueness for a diverse range of instruments.  

PhD Music student Rita Ueda and Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Professor Karen O'Brien
PhD Music student Rita Ueda and Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Professor Karen O'Brien

Winning the Laureate  

As a 2022 Laureate, Rita has been commissioned to write a new work entitled 'Birds Calling...from the Canada in You'. It continues her pursuit of a new transcultural musical identity without losing a sense of individuality. This new composition will incorporate Japanese, Chinese and Western musical traditions within a uniquely Canadian bird soundscape. The result will be a 25-minute double concerto for suona (Chinese double-reed horn), sho (Japanese mouth organ) and orchestra and will be performed by the Orchestre Métropolitain on 20 October 2022.  

On receiving her award Rita said:

Often the only female, only Asian composer amongst my peers, this award recognises those voices. It warms my heart.

The Azrieli Music Prizes  

The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music is one of three prizes in the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes competition. It is offered to a Canadian composer to create a new musical work that creatively and critically engages with the complexities of composing concert music in Canada today.   

In commenting on her proposal, the jury said:

Rita Ueda brings rigour and care to her music. Her proposal is well-researched and interesting in the ways that it confronts tensions in and between cultures by viewing birdsong through an intercultural lens. It is a well-considered, generous and integrated idea for expressing the diversity of Canadian society, where all individuals can be valued for what they bring to the whole.

Musical excellence at Durham University  

Rita’s prestigious award follows on from our recent announcement that the University is now the largest All-Steinway school in the UK.  

Rita said:

I choose to study for my PhD at Durham because I believe it's the best for research.



   Share this story   

Start the discussion



Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you! Get in touch via