On 23–24 October 2010, Southbank Centre celebrated leading German composer Helmut Lachenmann’s 75th birthday over one weekend with concerts performed by some of the world’s leading contemporary music exponents: the London Sinfonietta (Southbank Centre Resident Orchestra), the Arditti Quartet, soprano Sarah Leonard and pianist Rolf Hind. The first half of the Weekend, the Lachenmann Chamber Music Day, offered audiences an immersive encounter with the composer through two intimate concerts and a live on-stage discussion between Lachenmann and the writer, broadcaster Ivan Hewett. The weekend closed with the UK premiere of the composer’s monumental orchestral work, Schreiben (2003), in turn shortlisted for an RPS Music Award for ‘Large-scale composition’ this year.
Lachenmann says, ‘It is an honour, a pleasure, and an inspirational encouragement to have obtained – now for the second time - this marvelous award together with Southbank Centre. Feeling regarded for a long time (and by the way, misunderstood) in Britain as a typical continental intellectual left wing noisemaker and victim of Adornian negative Philosophy I did not dare to expect that my thoughts and my sounds would mean or even give something to the British musicians and music-lovers in this country…I would like to express my compliments, admiration and gratitude to the marvelous musicians, whose inspired performance of my music last year I never shall forget.’ The Helmut Lachemann Weekend has become a key chapter in Southbank Centre’s acclaimed explorations of 20th century composers that have included Stockhausen, Messiaen, Nono, Xenakis, Berio, Varèse, with focuses on Boulez and Nancarrow in the coming 2011/12 season.
Described in the Guardian as ‘chamber-music playing of overwhelming intensity, insight and intelligence, simply the best I have ever heard in concert’, Southbank Centre Associate Artists the Takács Quartet won the RPS Music Award for ‘Chamber Music and Song’ for its survey of the complete Beethoven String Quartets over six concerts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of Southbank Centre’s International Chamber Music Season. The Takács returns on 18 and 19 October to perform all six string quartets of Béla Bartók.
The Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer was awarded the RPS Music Award for ‘Conductor’ for performances of Beethoven Symphonies with Southbank Centre Resident Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE). A Principal Artist of the OAE, and with a close relationship with Southbank Centre, Fischer led his Budapest Festival Orchestra to open UK’s celebrations of Hungary’s EU Presidency at the Royal Festival Hall in January this year and will return in March 2012 to conduct Brahms, Lalo, and Rimsky-Korsakov as part of Shell Classic International series.
Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director Jude Kelly said, ‘I am truly delighted by the Royal Philharmonic Society’s recognition of three pivotal projects in our classical music programme. The Awards not only underline the excellence of these incredible artists, but they also reflect Southbank Centre’s unique ability to stage the full range of concerts, from intimate chamber music to large orchestral works, thus offering our audiences immersive experiences through in-depth encounters with great music and musicians.’