SOCAN member and legendary concert music composer R. Murray Schafer – also a writer, and “acoustic ecologist” – passed away at the age of 88, on Aug. 14, 2021, following a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

“R. Murray Schafer was one of Canada’s most highly esteemed composers, and deservedly so,”
said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “He was among the first classical composers to incorporate the sounds of nature into performances of his music, bringing the concept of ‘soundscapes’ to life. In doing so, he developed a uniquely Canadian kind of concert music that owes so much to the beloved natural wilderness of our country.”

In 1978, Schafer was awarded the inaugural Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, for his String Quartet No. 2 (Waves).  In 1987, he won the inaugural Glenn Gould Prize, and jury member Yehudi Menuhin praised his “strong, benevolent, and highly original imagination and intellect.” A recording of his first five string quartets won the JUNO Award in 1991 for Best Classical Album, Solo or Chamber Ensemble. The same year, Schafer won the JUNO for Best Classical Composition, for his String Quartet No. 5 (Rosalind). Again in 1991, he earned the SOCAN Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award. Schafer was awarded the Canada Council’s Walter Carsen Prize in 2005; received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2009; and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2013.

Schafer composed a great deal, in all genres: symphonic, chamber, opera, choral, and oratorio. His works were often performed outdoors, in order to integrate natural sounds into the music. For example, Music for Wilderness Lake was written for 12 trombonists spaced around a body of water. For another example, the opera The Princess of the Stars was intended to be performed by musicians gathered on the edge of a lake one hour before dawn, with awakening birds, and sunrise, contributing to both the sound and the drama, and some characters entering via canoe. (A 1985 production of the opera at Banff National Park attracted an audience of 5,000.)

Schafer was also concerned about the damaging effects of noise on people, particularly those living in cities. In 1969, he founded the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University, “to find solutions for an ecologically balanced soundscape where the relationship between the human community and its sonic environment is in harmony.” He presented his theories and research in his 1977 book, The Tuning of the World.

Schafer began his studies at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music, but dropped out after three years to study music less formally, in Vienna and England. He returned to Canada in 1961, and directed the first Ten Centuries Concerts in Toronto before starting a 12-year period of teaching: first, as an Artist-in-Residence at Memorial University (1963-65) and then at Simon Fraser University (1965-75). He then retired from teaching and began devoting himself solely to writing and composing.

It was after this retirement that Schafer wrote one of his most ambitious compositions, Apocalypsis,  an orchestral, choral, and theatrical piece based on the biblical Book of Revelation, requiring at least 500 performers. Because of its size and complexity, it has only been performed twice: first, in 1980, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of London, Ontario; and then, in 2015, at Toronto’s Luminato Festival. More than 1,000 artists participated in the latter, and it was live-streamed by CBC, and later released by Analekta Records.

SOCAN extends its deepest condolences to Schafer’s wife, family, friends, colleagues, and listeners.

SOCAN today confirmed that music rights organization SESAC of Nashville has purchased Audiam, the music publishing digital rights reproduction collection agency, from SOCAN.

The acquisition empowers SESAC to leverage Audiam’s claiming, income tracking and reporting technology and services, expanding its global service offerings to songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Audiam will remain under the leadership of Jamie Purpora, who has more than 20 years of experience in music publishing administration and has successfully led the Audiam team since 2015.

Jennifer Brown, SOCAN CEO, said, “SOCAN is delighted to complete this agreement with SESAC. Since our acquisition of Audiam in 2016, the organization has exceeded expectations, but the time is right for Audiam to continue its next phase with a new parent organization. We look forward to seeing this new chapter for Audiam as the organization benefits from new synergy with SESAC.”

SESAC Chairman and CEO John Josephson said, “SESAC is acquiring Audiam with the intention of supporting the existing management team, and to act as a supportive strategic partner and capital provider. We anticipate a seamless transition in ownership with no disruption to the Audiam business activities as a result of this transaction. Going forward, we believe this will position SESAC well for enhanced growth of our multi-rights, multi-territory global rights management business and continued delivery of best-in-class service to our affiliates, licensees and commercial partners.”

As part of the agreement, financial terms were not disclosed. SOCAN will retain a minority share in Audiam.

The SOCAN Foundation has distributed nearly $75,000 among 23 award recipients of its annual competitions. With more than 350 submissions, the Awards for Young Composers and Emerging Screen Composers were evaluated by juries of music industry professionals from across the country.

“SOCAN Foundation believes in celebrating the achievements of young emerging artists,” said Charlie Wall-Andrews, SOCAN Foundation Executive Director. “These awards help support and foster the development of talented young SOCAN members across Canada.”

The SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers is designed to recognize Canadian composers 30 years of age or under, for original concert music works. Cash prizes in the total amount of $46,250 were awarded to the finalists in the competition’s five categories — The Choral Awards, The Electroacoustic Awards, The Solo and Duet Awards, The Chamber Ensemble Awards, and The Large Ensemble Awards. Jury members for this year’s award included Jared Miller, Analia Llugdar, and Lesley Hinger.


Grand Prize
Francis Battah for Toccata no 2

The Choral Awards
1st Prize—Katerina Gimon for Shadow/Light
2nd Prize—Stephanie Orlando for kyrie
3rd Prize and Young Composer Award—Benjamin Sigerson for Stratocumulus

The Electroacoustic Awards
1st Prize—Dong Ho You for Look Straight, Don’t See
2nd Prize—Dominic Jasmin for Ici
3rd Prize—Thomas Quirion for Consequential
Young Composer Award—Michael Selvaggi for Marine Transmutations

The Solo and Duet Awards
1st Prize— Nicholas Denton-Protsack for Into this Fracturing Land
2nd Prize— James Lowrie for Chainsmoking;Index
3rd Prize—Liam Ritz for Three Inventions
Young Composer Award— Henry From for Chorale and Variations

The Chamber Ensemble Awards
1st Prize— Francis Battah for Codes, claves, accidents
2nd Prize—Haotian Yu for Ritual IIIb
3rd Prize— Sami Seif for Orientalism
Young Composer Award—Michael Selvaggi for Midwinter Fractures

The Large Ensemble
1st Prize—Nicholas Denton-Protsack for Iterations on a Theme by Antonio Salieri
2nd Prize—Sami Seif for Harp Concerto
3rd Prize—Liam Ritz for Chamber Dances
Young Composer Award—Henry From for Petawawa Gorges

Katrina Gimon (Ice Forms), Stephanie Orlando (riptide), and Liam Ritz (Chamber Dances) have been selected for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada’s mentorship program. They will be invited to attend an NYOC rehearsal reading of their orchestral composition.

The SOCAN Foundation Awards for Emerging Screen Composers is designed to recognize Canadian screen composers 30 years of age or under, for original musical themes or scores created exclusively for the screen, in audio-visual support (TV, film, etc.). Cash prizes worth $26,000 in total were presented to the winners of the competition’s four categories. Jury members included recognized film composers Steffan Andrews, Stephanie Hamelin Tomala, and Neil Parfitt.


Grand Prize
Dillon Baldassero for The Family (Escape)
Dillon Baldassero for Girl – Best Original Theme (2021)

Best Original Score—Animated
1st Prize—Medhat Hanbali for Trashy Friends
2nd Prize—Joey Reda for Drought

Best Original Score—Fiction
1st Prize— Virginia de Vasconcelos Kilbertus for Endlings: Season 2
2nd Prize— Iva Delic for I Can’t Said the Ant

Best Original Score—Non-Fiction
1st Prize— Andrés Galindo Arteaga for In Despair
2nd Prize—MAO YU for music for Wrought (spoil section)

Best Original Theme (opening or closing)
1st Prize—Spencer Creaghan for Letters To Satan Clause
2nd Prize— Lora Bidner for Elephant Sheets

For more information on SOCAN Foundation award winners, click here.

The registration deadlines for the 2022 SOCAN Foundation awards will be posted on the organization’s website in the early months of 2022.