Alex Pauk was inducted into the Order of Canada on September 23rd, 2015. Through founding Esprit Orchestra in 1983 and devoting the organization to new music, Pauk revitalized orchestral life for composers across Canada. With a core of 65 top instrumentalists, Canada’s best soloists, and an annual subscription series in Toronto, Esprit encourages composers to take bold new directions. Through building and sustaining Esprit’s high calibre performances, commissioning programme, innovative programming (70% Canadian), recordings, performing arts videos and DVDs, outreach projects, national and international tours, and interdisciplinary arts and multimedia ventures, Pauk has been a leader in developing and promoting Canadian music at home and abroad.
As a conductor, he attains excellent performances on stage and in recordings. Pauk’s commissioning of Canadian composers of all ages and stylistic trends is central to his work. He has been a leader in taking new music out of the concert hall and into communities with performances in unusual and alternative locations. He has provided opportunities for choreographers and dancers, stage and lighting designers, actors, directors, and multimedia and visual artists to combine their talents with Esprit in adventurous cross-disciplinary projects.
In 2007, Pauk was a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, awarded to those who contribute to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada:
"— Molson Prize Jury Citation
A passionate and visionary conductor, artistic director, composer and educator, Alex Pauk has demonstrated remarkable skills in the arts of initiative, risk-taking and the building and promotion of a leading Canadian arts organization, Esprit Orchestra, which is recognised around the world. A fervent believer in the richness and vitality of Canadian new music, he is a cutting-edge leader in the cultivation and presentation of contemporary music, in Canada and abroad. His true brilliance has emerged in the way that he has introduced new audiences – including young people and more traditional audiences for orchestral music – to the joys of exploring uncharted terrain, both musically and in the new and unusual venues where he has set his performances. Alex Pauk is a true champion of new music who continues to introduce Canadian and international composers to the world.
Pauk’s commitment to the community through Esprit has also garnered SOCAN and Chalmers Awards, as well as three Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Awards. He was named Musician of the Year (1999) by peers at the Toronto Musicians’ Association, and has helped many composers advance their careers through commissions, high profile performances, recordings and broadcasts. Under Pauk’s direction, Esprit was awarded the 2005 Vida Peene Award for excellent standards of performance and programming.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Alex Pauk has a prolific career as a composer, having written music for every kind of performing ensemble as well as dance and theatre companies. He has also composed over thirty film scores, many in collaboration with his wife, the composer Alexina Louie. His works for the concert hall have included pieces incorporating digital soundtracks, film, video and dance. Notable recent additions to his catalogue include Musiques immergées for orchestra and digital playback (with a film by photographer Edward Burtynski and film maker John Price having been created for integration with some performances of the work), Devotions, an oratorio for choir and orchestra and Impulse for twenty-four piece flute orchestra. Pauk has composed for and conducted more than sixty works for organisations such as the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, CBC Vancouver Orchestra, New Music Concerts, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Vancouver New Music Society, the Toronto Symphony and Esprit Orchestra. Alex Pauk graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music in 1971. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Alexina Louie, who is his vital partner in the development of Esprit Orchestra.