Alex Pauk, a composer, conductor and founder of Toronto's Esprit Orchestra, has won the $50,000 Molson Prize. ((Canada Council for the Arts))

Toronto composer and conductor Alex Pauk has won the $50,000 Molson Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts.

A prolific contemporary composer, Pauk has written film scores, TV scores and works for Toronto's Esprit Orchestra, an orchestra he founded in 1981 devoted to new music.

The Molson Prize jury hailed him for his work as conductor, composer and educator and for building a leading Canadian arts organization in Esprit Orchestra.

"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," the jury said in its citation.

"Alex Pauk is a true champion of new music who continues to introduce Canadian and international composers to the world."

Established in 1964, the Molson Prizes are funded from an endowment bythe Molson Foundation. They are given annually to two distinguished Canadians, one in the arts and the other in the social sciences or humanities.

This year's humanities winner is University of Waterloo philosophy professor Paul Thagard, an expert in the field of cognitive science and scientific reasoning.