Music is the most ephemeral of the arts—a mere vibration of air. The string, the vocal cord, a length of tubing, a block of wood are set in motion by a bow, the breath, a mallet. The air vibrates and it travels to you. Your eardrum quivers with those vibrations—you are moving with the music. Music is a such a wonder. The composer controls those vibrations that you receive. What a job!”

-—Alexina Louie

Alexina Louie

2021 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Classical Music)


Alexina Louie is one of Canadaʼs most celebrated and sought-after composers. A versatile, imaginative and prolific creator, she has written for all musical genres, from piano, voice and orchestra to opera and film; her orchestral works have been performed by leading international ensembles, and her music has been selected for productions by the National Ballet of Canada. Her distinctive style—a blend of Asian and Western influences—draws from a wide spectrum of sources, from her Chinese heritage to her theoretical and performance studies. Though she is a thoroughly Canadian composer, her musical voice is heard, recognized and acclaimed around the world.
Ms. Louie was born in Vancouver in 1949 and studied at the University of British Columbia and the University of California at San Diego. Her impressive body of work totals nearly 80 compositions, including Take the Dog Sled, for two Inuit throat singers and seven musicians; Scenes from a Jade Terrace, for solo piano, commissioned by Jon Kimura Parker; and O Magnum Mysterium: In Memoriam Glenn Gould, for 44 individual string parts, a tribute to the great Canadian piano virtuoso.
As composer-in-residence at the Canadian Opera Company, she composed a full-length opera, The Scarlet Princess, with libretto by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly). Previously, with librettist Dan Redican and director Larry Weinstein, she created the groundbreaking comedic made-for-TV mini operas Toothpaste and Burnt Toast.
In 2017, her Triple Concerto for Three Violins and Orchestra, jointly commissioned by the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, was performed by all three orchestras during Canada’s 150th anniversary year. In 2019, the prestigious Honens International Piano Festival, the Canadian Music Centre and Ireland’s Finding A Voice Festival each honoured her with a concert devoted to her compositions.
Alexina Louie is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Order of Ontario inductee, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her other awards and honours include the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, two Juno Awards, the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, the National Arts Centre Composer Award, the Chalmers Award in Composition and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary.