Alex Pauk had much to do with revitalizing Canadian orchestral musical life for composers by founding Esprit Orchestra in 1983 as Canada’s only orchestra devoted to new music. Under Pauk’s leadership, Esprit, with a core of 65 of Canada’s best new music instrumentalists, encourages composers from across Canada to take bold new directions in creativity. Through building and sustaining its high calibre performances and commissioning new works, Pauk has made Esprit a major force for developing and promoting Canadian music at home and abroad. As a conductor he attains performances of the highest calibre on stage and in recordings. Most of Esprit’s concerts have been recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio Two.
Pauk’s innovative programming and commitment to the community through Esprit have garnered many awards and recognition of his work. Under his direction, Esprit was awarded the 2005 Vida Peene Fund for excellent standards of performance and innovative programming. He was named Musician of the Year (1999) by peers at the Toronto Musicians’ Association and was the recipient of the 2007 Yorkton Film Festival Golden Sheaf Award and the 2007 Molson Prize administered by The Canada Council.
As a composer, Pauk works with every kind of performing ensemble (some including electro-acoustic and digital sound), film, theatre as well as dance companies. His most notable compositions of recent years include; Touch Piece, a multimedia work for full orchestra, 16 channel surround sound with electro-acoustic sound, sounds of nature and altered orchestral sound projected from loudspeakers, multi-screen video environment (images of nature and the Cosmos) and fabric sculptures with special theatrical lighting; Farewell to Heaven, a full length work for the Menaka Thakkar Indian Dance Company (blending Southeast Asian musical elements with Western orchestral sounds); three works involving important Canadian virtuosos: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra (Erica Goodman – harp), Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (Duo Turgeon – pianos) and Flute Quintet (Robert Aitken – flute with Cuarteto Latinoamericano). Pauk has composed more than sixty works and has both composed for and conducted CBC Vancouver Orchestra, New Music Concerts, Vancouver New Music, Québec Symphony, Hannaford Street Silver Band and the Toronto Symphony. Currently, he is composing a work for large ensemble commissioned by La Société de musique contemporaine du Québec.
Pauk has been a leader in taking new music out of the concert hall and to people in their communities with performances in unusual locations such as the CN Tower, art galleries and night clubs, and he has provided opportunities for choreographers and dancers, stage and lighting designers, actors and directors and media and visual artists to combine their talents with Esprit in adventurous cross-disciplinary projects.
Pauk graduated from the University of Toronto - Faculty of Music in 1971, attended the Ontario Arts Council’s Conductors Workshop, helped found Arraymusic in Toronto, then moved to Japan for conducting studies at the Toho Gakuen School of Music. In 1973 he settled in Vancouver and established the new music group Days Months and Years to Come. After studies in Europe in 1978/79, he made Toronto his base, founded Esprit Orchestra, served as co-chair for the 1984 ISCM World Music Days and was Music Director and Conductor for the Satori New Music Festival (Winnipeg Symphony). He has conducted opera including R. Murray Schafer’s Princess of the Stars performed on Wildcat Lake, Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Palace at the Cinnabar Phoenix and Timothy Sullivan’s Dreamplay and Charles Wilson’s The Summoning of Everyman for Opera in Concert. In 2004 he was guest conductor for the Ergo Ensemble on their tour to Lithuania.
Alex resides in Toronto with his wife, composer Alexina Louie, and their two daughters, Jasmine and Jade.