2013 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music)
Andrew Dawes is one of the finest violinists Canada has ever produced. An exceptional performer and gifted teacher, he is known for his commitment to hard work, technical excellence, musical integrity, and excitement of performance. In a career spanning half a century, his unique ability to share his enthusiasm for classical music has inspired listeners, students, and fellow musicians around the world.
Mr. Dawes was born in High River, Alberta in 1940. He is best known for his role as first violinist of Canada’s internationally acclaimed Orford String Quartet. During his 26 year tenure (1965–91), the ensemble gave nearly 3,000 concerts on six continents and made more than 60 recordings, featuring key works of the classical repertoire as well as new works by Canadian composers. The quartet also toured regularly in Canada, bringing the world’s finest music to concert halls, church basements and high school gyms across the country. In 2000, the CBC named the Orford String Quartet one of the “Ten Great Canadian Performers of the Twentieth Century.”
A generous and dedicated teacher and mentor, Andrew Dawes has taught at the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and McGill University, where in 2006 he was the first Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Catherine Thornhill Steele Chair in Music. In 2011 he was appointed Director of the Vancouver Academy of Music’s Chamber Music Institute, and currently serves on the board of the St. James Music Academy, which provides free instruments and music lessons to children from Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhoods.
He has served as a jury member for numerous prestigious music competitions, including the London International String Quartet Competition, and chaired the Banff International String Quartet Competition 1989–2004.
Mr. Dawes’ some 63 recordings include notably all ten sonatas for piano and violin by Beethoven, recorded with pianist Jane Coop (Skylark); all the Beethoven string quartets (CBC Records/Delos Records); and five quartets by Canadian composer (and GGPAA laureate) R. Murray Schafer (Centre Discs).
Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (1991); Molson Prize (Canada Council for the Arts, 1976); Chalmers National Music Award (1994); Dorothy Somerset Award for Excellence in Performance and Development (University of British Columbia, 2002); Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal (2002) and Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); and three JUNO Awards.