Leonard Cohen Repays Canada Council, and then some
Posted by admin on May 15, 2012 ·
Image: Leonard CohenA BoB short:
Canadian literature and music legend Leonard Cohen, awarded the Glenn Gould Prize in Toronto last night, has chosen to donate the $50,000 that comes with it to the Canada Council for the Arts. The Montreal native is the ninth winner of the honour that has been called “The Nobel Prize of the Arts.”
As a young poet, Cohen received a $25 grant from the Canada Council, in the form of reading fees. At last night’s ceremony, he recalled another “highlight” of his early years: interviewing Gould, the pianist who was Canada’s first musical superstar, for a magazine profile, only to be “so engrossed by what he was saying, I stopped taking notes.” The article was never completed.
Recipients of the award, given every three years, are asked to choose a young artist to receive the $25,000 Glenn Gould Gould Protegé Prize. Cohen chose a collective giftee: the students of Sistema-Toronto, a school using music education to teach cooperation and social responsibility.
Previous laureates have included Dr. José Antonio of Abreu, Venezuela, who founded a national system of young peoples’ orchestras in Venezuela, and Sir André Previn, the German-born composer and conductor.
But Leonard Cohen: He’s our man.
- Emily Olesen
sturgess66 wrote:Leesa Butler @theFList Packed house for Leonard. I love the lady w/a saucer size I Heart Leonard Cohen button. @haldenberry
FOR LEONARD COHEN, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
The Canadian Poet, Novelist, and Musician was Honoured with the Glenn Gould Prize.
By Todd Aalgaard • Photos by Nancy Paiva
Leonard Cohen must have felt a sense of time’s great circle, Monday night. Honoured at Massey Hall as the Ninth Laureate of the Glenn Gould Prize, the iconic Montrealer doffed his fedora to the applauding crowd, cracking jokes and dryly sharing stories from early in his career. In that booming, legendary baritone, he recalled meeting Glenn Gould himself, a man described by host Colm Feore as the “James Dean of classical music.”
The way Cohen described it, you could imagine dozens of young journalists in the audience feeling exactly what he did over fifty years earlier.
During his post-McGill days as an emerging writer, Cohen was interviewing Gould for a feature story. Though it was supposed to be a brief interview—maybe ten minutes, maybe less—the process ended up lasting hours, he said. Later, those hours became days spent hiding from his editors, ducking regular questions about the progress of his story. Characteristically self-deprecating, Cohen remarked that the interview had gone just a little too well. In the eclipsing presence of a cultural giant, without the aid of a tape recorder, auto-transcription, or anything else, Leonard Cohen had completely forgotten what they discussed.
Today, of course, history is Cohen’s best witness. The 77 year old has gone from living a life of poetry, being part of Andy Warhol’s circle, and publishing two novels—The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers—to exemplifying a haunting, jarringly honest, confessional style of music that is his alone. Though the music came along only after Cohen’s writing had failed to pan out, you can imagine that whatever discussion had transpired between him and Gould had played its part: in the way Gould heard music in everything, Cohen, in turn, always managed to elevate ugliness to a level of raw, ethereal beauty. “There is a crack in everything,” he wrote. “That’s how the light gets in.” Once music came along, it all seemed to bleed together.
On Monday night, Cohen was honoured by a host of musical and cultural heavyweights—Gordon Pinsent, Basia Bulat, Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, John Prine, Alan Rickman, the Cowboy Junkies, and Serena Ryder, to name a few—in celebration of his achievements as an artist, part of the Glenn Gould Prize’s mandate to recognize “the connection between artistic excellence and the transformation of lives.” Called the “Nobel Prize of the arts” by the Toronto Star, the prize nets its winner a cool $50,000, plus another $15,000 for a “protege” of his or her choice.
That $15,000 went to Sistema Toronto, an educational collaboration with the Toronto District School Board that offers free, intensive music education to children in Parkdale, with plans to expand outward into the Greater Toronto Area. And that $50,000? Instead of claiming it, Cohen has gifted it to the Canada Council for the Arts, returning the favour of the occasional $25 grant he received from the funding body early in his career. These days, with so many long shadows cast across the arts in Toronto and in Canada, it was a resoundingly potent way of honouring all artists, especially the ones just finding their voices.
All in all, it was a pretty beautiful way for things to come full-circle.
imaginary friend wrote:Cate, I hope you're in the audience!
He is such a beautiful and gracious man.IF wrote:Wonderful that Leonard donated his $50K to (our beleaguered) Canada Council for The Arts!
It was wonderful to sit in the same audience as Leonard... etc.
imaginary friend wrote:PS: Adam Cohen was Jian Ghomeshi's guest on CBC this morning; he performed Like a Man. There was reference to LC's tour, but nothing about last night's event – although I tuned in partway through the show, so may have missed it...
Mollydog wrote:imaginary friend wrote:PS: Adam Cohen was Jian Ghomeshi's guest on CBC this morning; he performed Like a Man. There was reference to LC's tour, but nothing about last night's event – although I tuned in partway through the show, so may have missed it...
Here's the link.
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