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Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra Receives $10,000 Gift

Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra is this year’s recipient of a $10,000 gift from the Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) Vida Peene Fund.  Income from the Vida Peene Fund is given every two years to an Ontario orchestra other than the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (the TSO having been provided for separately through Vida Peene’s estate). 

The late Vida Peene was a Hamilton-based arts patron who wanted her bequest to support Ontario orchestras as well as painting acquisitions at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.  Funds to the Art Gallery of Hamilton are handled separately from the gift to orchestras. 

OAC’s Acting Chair, Martha Durdin will make the presentation at Esprit Orchestra’s opening concert on October 27, at the Janet Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. 

The jury for the Vida Peene Fund selects the recipient among applicants to the Ontario Arts Council’s Orchestras program.  This year the jury included Jacques Clément, conductor and artistic director with the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in Chicoutimi, Québec, Kathy Heimbecker, Sudbury-based theatre manager, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Ottawa-based composer, Marie Rounding, a Toronto lawyer and former board chair of The National Ballet School and Fiona Wilkinson, musician and educator from London, Ontario. 

The Esprit Orchestra was formed in 1983 by Music Director and Conductor Alex Pauk to bring new music to Canadians and to champion new music by Canadian composers. Esprit remains Canada's only full-sized orchestra devoted exclusively to new music.  

The jury lauded Esprit’s commitment to new work and support for Canadian creation, as well as the quality of their recordings and innovative outreach projects. 

Vida Peene’s original bequest was made to the Canada Council for the Arts.  The Ontario Arts Council is one of eight specified organizations that receive income from the Canada Council’s Vida Peene Awards through investment earnings. The value of the awards fluctuates with the amount earned from investments in previous years. 

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Click here for more information about the Vida Peene Fund

Click here for information about OAC awards

For more information:  

Kirsten Gunter 
OAC Communications Manager            
416-969-7403 or    

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