The GRAMOPHONE AWARDS – the world’s most influential classical music prizes – were announced today at London’s Dorchester Hotel in a ceremony hosted by Last Night of the Proms soprano Susan Bullock.
James Jolly, Editor-in-Chief of Gramophone said: “With more than 200 new CDs released each month it gets harder to narrow down the field for the Awards each year, and the 2011 vintage has been a particularly rich one. It reaches far into the international music scene and breathtaking new standards in musicianship have been set. The ever-expanding range of music on offer – together with the fact that music-lovers have so much choice in what they can hear - means there are always new boundaries to explore and we can safely say that we have never had it so good. We are delighted that the vibrancy of the artistry is reflected in the market, which is holding steady in these turbulent times.”
Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, one of today’s hottest properties in classical music, was voted for by readers as Artist of the Year in one of Gramophone’s two publicly voted awards. The Award was presented by The Hon. Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, who recently wrote that Dudamel is “The coolest conductor in the world today… He's exciting, he's different and he's new.” The most celebrated product of the Venezuelan ‘Sistema’, Dudamel’s charismatic ability to inspire a life-long passion for music in young people, together with his passionate energy on the podium, has brought him international superstardom. Dudamel continues to transform young people’s lives by setting up or supporting El Sistema-influenced programmes in LA and beyond.
Gustavo Dudamel said: “Being Gramophone Artist of the Year is a great honour – made even more special by the fact that I was selected by all of you. 2011 has been a wonderful year of music-making with my three amazing musical families: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Göteborgs Symfoniker. On accepting this award I do so on behalf of my musical families and young musicians everywhere. Let’s all continue to keep extraordinary music alive, sharing the power and beauty of music with everybody.”
Gramophone’s 47 critics deliberated for weeks over which album – out of the 1000-plus new releases from the past year – was most deserving of the grand prix among the Gramophone Awards, the Recording of the Year. The top spot has gone to the Pavel Haas Quartet for their luscious recording of music from their native Czech republic, Dvořák Quartets Nos. 12 (American) and 13 on Czech label Supraphon.
Beating off stiff competition from the established studio labels, Wigmore Hall Live becomes the first live label to win Gramophone's prestigious Label of The Year Award. Wigmore Hall is repeatedly named as artists’ favourite performance platform for its intimate atmosphere, the excellence of its revered acoustic, and the warmth of its audience. In 2005 Wigmore Hall Live was launched with a unique business model: to bring live recordings from one of the world’s most hallowed stages, whose own microphones capture up to seven concerts a week, and pick the best of the bunch for immortalisation on record.
John Gilhooly, Wigmore Hall's Director, commented: "It is a great honour for Wigmore Hall Live to be named Gramophone Label of the Year only six years into its life. Our aim is to continue to attract the very best classical artists of today, and this Award gives a tremendous boost to our plans for the years ahead."
The extraordinary undertaking of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage by Sir John Eliot Gardiner was recognised by the Special Achievement Award, presented to Sir John Eliot by Sir David Attenborough. The series began in 2000 and saw the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists perform all of J.S. Bach’s surviving church cantatas on the appropriate feast day, touring some of Northern Europe’s most iconic churches, cathedrals and abbeys, and led the conductor to launch his own record label, Soli Deo Gloria. This 27 volume, two-disc recording catalogue of the entire project was completed this year. The first volume won the Gramophone Award for Recording of the Year in 2005.
Gramophone’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to one of the world’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos. Dame Janet Baker has left an indelible mark on the world of singing, possessing one of the most instantly recognisable voices on CD. Renowned for the highly personal, warm quality of her voice, her large legacy of recordings showcases her key role in the Handel revival and her close collaboration with Benjamin Britten, who wrote Phaedra for her. Dame Janet said: “It’s a privilege and a joy to receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award and I am deeply grateful to Gramophone magazine for honouring me at this stage in my life.”
Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić was crowned Young Artist of the Year. His acclaimed debut album, “The Guitar” – inspired by personal, evocative memories of his childhood – knocked André Rieu off the top spot and this year also picks up the Specialist Classical Chart Award. Miloš became the first classical artist to have a No.1 debut album since British violinist Nicola Benedetti in 2005.
Presented in association with The Times and Making Music, the Music in the Community Award was set up to give recognition to amateur organisations who give their time to spread the joy of music-making. This year the focus turned to orchestras. An expert panel drew up a short list of five – the Really Terrible Orchestra, the Cobweb Orchestra, the East London Late Starters Orchestra, the British Police Symphony Orchestra and the Cardiff County Vale of Glamorgan Youth Orchestra. The winner, voted for by readers of The Times, was The Cobweb Orchestra. Originally created as an outreach programme by Northern Sinfonia fifteen years ago, The Cobweb Orchestra encourages people to ‘dust the cobwebs’ off their old instruments and start playing again. It now has ensembles in eight different towns, is supported almost entirely by member subscription and is committed to accepting members of all ages, abilities, and walks of life.
iTunes and Gramophone have teamed up for the first time to allow music lovers to download music from six of the winning CDs by offering a free Awards playlist. Music lovers can visit www.iTunes.com/gramawards (also accessible by the QR code if using smartphone or iPad) before 30 November to download a free Gramophone Awards playlist. Listeners will also be able to find free Gramophone podcasts and music from previous years’ honourees.
Gustavo Dudamel’s acceptance speech will be available to view and embed after 4pm, 6 October from Gramophone’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/GramophoneMagazine
Also available will be other films and photos from the Awards Ceremony, including exclusive live performances and acceptance speeches.
Winners were also announced across the 15 album categories, including two awards for Antonio Pappano, two for the Hallé Orchestra, and rich pickings for fans of piano music, early music and legendary conductors.