Hilario Durán wins OAF’s Louis Applebaum Composers Award

The Ontario Arts Foundation is set to present Hilario Durán with this year’s Louis Applebaum Composers Award, recognizing excellence in composition by a jazz artist.

Durán will receive the $15,000 award when he and his Latin Jazz Big Band play Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Saturday.

“Durán’s compositions are sonically complex and lush,” the jury said. “His music is both lyrical and melodic, with beautiful harmonies and passionate results. His contribution to the art form and his artistic voice are so critical today, both in Canada and around the world. His music is rooted in tradition but he is continually pushing himself forward. Durán’s compositions don’t just warm your mind, but also your soul.”

While the Cuban-born pianist and composer has been based out of Toronto for the past 20 years, the heart and soul of his music remains closely linked to Havana, his hometown. In the earlier part of his career, he worked as a professional musician in Cuba before going on to tour the world with Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Legrand and more.

When he settled down in Canada, Durán started to make a name for himself on his own. By now, he’s won multiple Juno Awards and Canadian National Jazz Awards, he’s been nominated for a Grammy Award, and he has received the Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award from Latin Jazz USA.

In addition to being a fixture of Toronto’s jazz music scene, Durán is also an adjunct piano professor and ensemble director in the jazz faculty at Humber College.

Louis Applebaum established the composers’ fund in his name at the Ontario Arts Foundation in 1998.