Leonard Cohen repays Canada Council, and then some

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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 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


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