Leonard Cohen to be feted at Glenn Gould Prize gala

The life and work of Leonard Cohen will be honoured May 14 in Toronto when the Montreal musician and writer receives the $50,000 Glenn Gould Prize for his contribution to culture.
Leonard Cohen will be in Toronto to accept the $50,000 Glenn Gould Prize and pick a protege to win another $15,000. (Alik Keplicz/Associated Press)

The life and work of Montreal’s Leonard Cohen will be honoured May 14 in Toronto when the musician and writer receives the $50,000 Glenn Gould Prize, an international honour for his contribution to culture.

An eclectic group of musicians and artists, including the Cowboy Junkies, Serena Ryder, Basia Bulat and Cohen's own son, Adam, are lined up to perform.

Leonard Cohen, who recently announced a European tour in support of his new album Old Ideas, has confirmed he will be in Toronto for the ceremony.

Actor Colm Feore is host, and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson is to deliver a spoken tribute during the evening.

Gordon Pinsent plans a poetry reading with Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo and Travis Good of the Sadies.  The trio have collaborated on a new release, Down and Out in Upalong, which combines Pinsent’s poetry about Newfoundland with original music by Keelor and Good.

The Glenn Gould Prize, named for the famous Canadian pianist, is awarded biennially to a living individual for a unique lifetime contribution that has enriched the human condition through the arts.  Cohen has been asked to choose a protégé – a young artist in any genre – to receive an additional $15,000 award.

"I want to thank the Glenn Gould Foundation for their kindness," Cohen said in a statement.

"It is a great honour, sweetened by my love of the work of Glenn Gould, and our collective appreciation of his invigorating and enduring presence in the world of music and imagination."

The iconic singer and songwriter also wrote the novels Beautiful Losers and The Favourite Game, as well poetry collections The Spice-Box of Earth, Flowers for Hitler and more recently Book of Longing, the first book of poetry to reach the top of Canada’s bestsellers’ lists.

Cohen is a member of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame for songs such as Bird on a Wire, Suzanne and Dance Me to the End of Love.  He is one of the most covered artists alive today, with his popular Hallelujah sung by more than 150 artists, including Willie Nelson and Bono. 

The jury hailed him for a "stunning body of original work that has touched the lives of millions with a career spanning six decades."