Jury Reveal: I Was A Polaris Music Prize Outlier

Jury Reveal: I Was A Polaris Music Prize Outlier

I was asked to be part of the Polaris Music Prize Jury this year, which has been a great experience because of all the wonderful Canadian music I was introduced to.

There were 209 jurors, and more than 200 recommendations. 

A woman listening to phonograph records
Image by Victoria from Pixabay

My 2024 Long List Recommendations.

You'll note that none of them made it to th actual Long List. :)

But, I like to think I may have introduced at least a couple of people to some of my favourite albums of the year from Canadian artists. 

Artist - Album

1. Frank Horvat & SHHH!! Ensemble — An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene

A sense of invention goes a long way towards establishing artistry in my book, and his electro-chamber work is performed by the piano percussion duo known as SHHH!! Ensemble. It's a bold concept - to portray our auditory environment, along with a sense of its degradation due to misuse. Recordings of traffic, drilling, fracking, and other machinery are the backdrop to musical responses that journey through hostility to peace.


2. Pip — Every City 

Just when you think you know where one of the songs on this release by Pip aka Philip Pip Kummel is headed, it veers off into unexpected territory. The award-winning musician and songwriter is adept at giving you just what you didn't expect in a vein that you'd describe as singer-songwriter/Americana-ish.


3. India Gailey — Problematica 

India Gailey is a multi-hyphenate artist - she wrote and directed the film, below, for the piece "Grotesquerie" composed by Nicole Lizée, which appears on the album (People Places Records). She vocalises as she plays the cello, and the result is unlike anything you've ever heard. Problematica includes several pieces by contemporary Canadian composers.


4. Meredith Bates — Tesseract 

Meredith Bates' Tesseract is an album of rather dense music composed for, and performed on violin and FX by Bates. The JUNO Award-winning violinist's music is abstract, yet here and there, a melody emerges. It's atmospheric and haunting.


5. National Arts Centre Orchestra — Truth In Our Time 

The NAC Orchestra commissioned a work from American composer Philip Glass that forms the heart of this album. It's meant to commemorate Canadian American journalist Peter Jennings, even as it delves into the nature of truth - a seminal issue of our time, and one that runs through all the other selections. The album is rounded out by James Ehnes performance of the Korngold Violin COncert, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9, and Nicole Lizée's Zeiss After Dark. Francophone star YAO adds his Strange Absurdity / Étrange absurdité to the unique release. Alexander Shelley conducts the National Arts Centre Orchestra.