Vancouver-based composer Rodney Sharman has won the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts awarded annually by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Sharman was born in Saskatchewan in 1958 but came to British Columbia when his family moved to Victoria. As a young man he studied with Murray Adaskin and Rudolf Komorous; thereafter his teachers included Brian Ferneyhough, Louis Andriessen and, most significantly, Morton Feldman. Sharman received a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1991.
Sharman’s career was launched by a First Prize in the 1984 CBC Competition for Young Composers. He was president of the Canadian League of Composers 1993-90 and has been an outspoken advocate for new music in countless contexts.
During the tenure of conductor Sergiu Comissiona, Sharman became the Vancouver Symphony’s first ever composer-in-residence; while with the VSO Sharman established the Jean Coulthard Orchestral Readings. More recently he was composer-in-residence at the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Victoria Symphony.
Sharman has produced music that reflects most forms of contemporary practice. His opera, Elsewhereless, set a sometimes disturbing libretto by filmmaker Atom Egoyan (who also hails from Victoria).
A number of Sharman’s works, written during his time at the VSO, are among some of the most impressive orchestral works produced in this country, in the beginning years of the twenty-first century, including the song-symphony Love, Beauty, Desire and Letters for the Future, an orchestral work with men’s choir and setting of a text by Galileo.
In recent years, Sharman has written a number of major dance scores, including music for choreographer James Kudelka, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco Ballet. A playful aspect of Sharman’s oeuvre includes works like his “opera transcriptions” for piano and his popular series of cabaret songs.
The Walter Carsen Award is awarded on a four-year rota in dance, theatre, dance, and music. The annual prize of $50,000 is drawn from a $1.1 million fund established by Walter Carsen in 2001.