musicalamerica, December 6, 2011
By Susan Elliott
Musical America Presents 2012 Awards
Video von der Preisverleihung

NEW YORK -- In what has come to be the annual holiday party for the classical music industry, Musical America last night hosted its Artist of the Year Awards, which for 2012 included Musician(s) of the Year, along with Conductor, Vocalist, Instrumentalist and Composer of the Year. And for anyone doubting the health of the classical music business, over 200 artists, managers, administrators, authors and journalists filled the Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center to wish the winners well. The atmosphere was as warm and genial as it was spirited and filled with positive vibes.

Part of the reason for that was the enthusiasm and gratitude of this year’s winners, encompassing a broad range of talent, time in the biz, and countries of origin. Tenor Jonas Kaufman, Vocalist of the Year, and Jaap van Zweden, Conductor of the Year, both noted how much of their success had been achieved only since arriving in the U.S. from Europe. “There’s something about classical music in America,” said Kaufmann in his acceptance remarks. “Everything I’ve done since I’ve been here has become a success.” It was not always thus, he assured us.

Presiding over the official ceremonies was industry stalwart Sedgwick Clark, editor of the Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts -- a.k.a. the “Bible” of the music biz -- that bestows the awards and offers feature articles on each of the winning artists. Clark started the proceedings with Composer of the Year Meredith Monk, an ageless artist who has been evolving from singer to dancer, choreographer, director, film maker, keyboardist, composer and back ‘round again since the 1970s. He mentioned as well her many accolades, including the MacArthur “Genius” award and any number of commissions, recordings and retrospective concerts at major halls on both U.S. coasts.

Her hair braided in the trademark pigtails, Monk accepted her award, thanking the musicians who have been with her over the years, acknowledging her publisher (Boosey & Hawkes) for convincing her to write her music down so that others could perform it, and telling the assembled guests how grateful she was to be in the business. Before she spoke, she took a moment to pause and look around the room. “This feels like family,” she said, “and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Conductor of the Year Jaap van Zweden dedicated his award to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, of which he is music director, and to the president of its board of directors, one of the many Texans who followed their maestro to New York to accept his prize. Van Zweden, the former concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, described how he first came to conducting when Leonard Bernstein asked him to take up the baton during a rehearsal. Apparently Bernstein wanted to step back into the hall and check acoustics and balances.

Van Zweden reports that Bernstein said, “ ‘That was pretty bad,’” after the rehearsal was over, a remark that generated much laughter in the Kaplan Penthouse. “But he also told me that this was something I should take seriously,” continued the conductor, adding, “he turned my world upside down.” All to the good.

Instrumentalist of the Year Gil Shaham described himself as “the luckiest guy in the room,” thanking everyone from his wife to his manager, Mary Pat Buerkle at Opus 3, to his publicists at 21C and adding “It’s a great time to be a musician.” He was also careful to thank Stravinsky, Berg, Bartók, Prokofiev, Walton and the other composers whose 1930s violin concertos he is currently on a mission to bring to international audiences.

Vocalist of the Year Jonas Kaufmann, looking dapper as ever, graciously acknowledged the success of his recent seasons in the U.S., explaining how the versatility for which he is now receiving so much praise was at one time a stumbling block, since directors couldn’t quite figure out how to pigeonhole him.

“Now, I am not stuck in a corner as a ‘heldentenor’ or a ‘light Italian’ voice. I am having fun. I feel like I am in a dream, as if I’m entering another dimension. I hope to sit on this cloud for quite awhile.”

Wu Han and David Finckel, Musical America’s first ever duo Musician(s) of the Year, took turns delivering their acceptance remarks. Finckel remarked that it was “not as easy to give a duo speech as it is to perform a Beethoven sonata,” but they managed with much good will and humor, acknowledging how the award “will strengthen what we do” and that “we have achieved much more together than we could have separately.”

In the duo’s tribute article, Stuart Isacoff quotes Finckel remembering their first encounter in 1982 at the Hartt School of Music. “The sparks kicked in between two notes in the Schumann Quintet, a G to an A, in the first cello solo in the exposition of the first movement. She was the first pianist to ever allow me the little extra time needed for the note to bloom at the top. I will never forget that moment: It was like she was in my head. After that, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.”

At which point Wu Han remarked that the proof it was their music making that sparked their love and lifetime partnership lay in the fact that, at the time, she didn’t speak English. There was no need; their music said it all.

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