Orchestras Canada is thrilled to announce the two winners of the Betty Webster Award for 2011: Dr. David Leighton, for distinguished national achievement (nominated by the National Arts Centre Orchestra), and Marsha Moffitt, for outstanding work in a specific region/locality (nominated by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra). The award celebrates sustained contribution to Canadian orchestras, with a focus on leadership, volunteerism and education.
The Betty Webster Award was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director. It is presented to an individual or organization that has made a long-term and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community. This year, for the first time, the Awards include a small cash prize to be presented to the Canadian orchestra of each winner’s choice.
“Sustained leadership in the arts at the level embodied by David Leighton and Marsha Moffitt is an all-consuming commitment,” said Ken MacLeod, Chair of the Betty Webster Award Committee. “It demands a lot of a person – mind, heart and soul – over the long term, in order to make a difference. The organizations that they’ve served – and all Canadian orchestras – are better because of their efforts, and we are delighted to recognize them with the Betty Webster Award for 2011.”
A business leader and academic, long-time arts volunteer and passionate amateur musician, Dr. David Leighton was President of the Banff Centre in Alberta for 12 years. As Chair of the Board of the National Arts Centre (NAC) from 1999 to 2006, Dr. Leighton helped usher in a period of unprecedented vitality and financial health for the Centre and its resident orchestra that is described in the nomination as “nothing short of a revolution for the NAC Orchestra. Suddenly, classical music was cherished at the NAC.” The nomination also acknowledged “his hands-on, inclusive management style,” and his ability to apply his “high level of scholarship and business acumen to the non-profit performing arts.” Dr. Leighton has served on the boards of several orchestras and classical music organizations including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra London, and Orchestras Canada. He is a Harvard graduate with honorary doctorates from Queen’s University and the University of Windsor, and was a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario for more than 20 years.
Marsha Moffitt has been a cellist with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) since 1980, and volunteer chair of the orchestra’s Players’ Committee since 2002. She is known for her role as an educator, teaching at Redeemer College, coaching chamber music ensembles and conducting an adult amateur string orchestra. Ms. Moffat is a key member of the HPO’s Education Committee and has contributed to the development of the HPO’s Teacher Resource Guide. As Players’ Committee Chair, she has played a strong role in the organization’s governance, and the nomination acknowledges her “critical role as a leader in the Philharmonic’s successful turnaround over the past decade”, naming her “one of the architects of the steady and continued rebuilding” of the HPO. She was particularly cited for her “rare ability to advocate passionately for her professional colleagues while understanding the imperatives of organizational governance and management.” As one of the members of the selection committee noted, “an orchestra with a leader like Marsha Moffitt is a better and happier orchestra.”
The Betty Webster Award committee members selected the winners from nominations received from individuals and organizations across the country. The 2011 committee members are Ken Macleod, (New Brunswick Youth Orchestra/Sistema New Brunswick); Katherine Carleton (Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada); Jean Letarte (Director of Artistic Operations, Orchestre symphonique de Quebec); Heather Slater (Director of Artistic Administration, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra); and Betty Webster herself (Dundas, Ontario).
The Award is a tribute to Betty Webster’s many years of service and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of Canada’s orchestral community. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Webster’s unwavering energy was focused on strengthening Canadian orchestras.