Mr. Michael Massey - 2017

2017 / Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award

“Music is really a combination of emotion, colour, light, sound, silence, intellectual grasping and seeing the whole picture. All of those things come together in great works of art. This is one of the reasons that music is so important. It helps with the thinking process and brain development and emotional development and skill development in every field, not just in music. That’s why it’s so important and that’s why we still advocate strongly for the inclusion of music education in public schools.” –Michael Massey, upon receipt of The Alberta Order of Excellence, 2016

St. Albert resident Michael Massey has been a fixture in Edmonton’s classical music scene for over 45 years. He has inspired thousands of young musicians as head of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra (EYO) and countless others through musical performance. An accomplished and versatile musician, Michael is a pianist, conductor, programmer, teacher and an orchestrator – but most of all, he is a mentor and role model for young musicians in Alberta.

Born in London, England, Michael moved to Canada at the age of 12 with his family. His early piano studies with Jean-Pierre Vetter in Edmonton was the primary influence in his development as a musician and appreciation of the power of a good teacher.

After earning a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Alberta, Michael studied at Switzerland’s Geneva Conservatory, under the renowned pedagogue Louis Hiltbrand, before he established himself as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician throughout Canada.

On a dare, Michael successfully auditioned for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) on cello, which had been his second study instrument while at university. After playing for two years, he moved into the role of ESO pianist, a position he continues to hold. A frequent soloist and occasional conductor, Michael emphasizes that it was his experience as an orchestral player that determined his musical path and defined his legacy.

His innovative, wide-ranging, and demanding repertoire selections continue to challenge and stretch his students' abilities. Michael's time, energy and dedication to the EYO has resulted in wide acclaim and drawn large and diverse audiences playing for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2005, as well as touring around the world.

One of Alberta’s most influential classical musicians, Michael was inducted into Edmonton’s Cultural Hall of Fame as an artist-builder and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. In 2016, he was also awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence, the highest honour the Province can bestow on a citizen.

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Last edited: December 2, 2020