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David Finckel and Wu Han named “Musicians of the Year”

November 3, 2011

In an unprecedented move, Musical America has selected not one but two Musicians of the Year for 2012: David Finckel and Wu Han. He is a cellist, she a pianist, and together they are the artistic directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among other organizations. The Musician(s) of the Year Award, honoring excellence and achievement in the arts, are being announced in conjunction with the release of the 2012 International Directory of the Performing Arts.

Finckel and Han have managed to breathe new life into an artform all too often overlooked. They have done so not only through imaginative programming and stellar performances, together or alone, but also as founders of Music@Menlo, and as pioneering producers of their own recordings on the ArtistLed label, classical music’s first musician-directed and Internet-based recording company. Together, writes Musical America Directory Editor Sedgwick Clark in his citation, they have managed to “create a revolution in the traditionally quiet world of chamber music — in the process building new audiences and rearing a new wave of players.”

Finckel, also a member of the Emerson String Quartet, was the first American to study with Mstislav Rostropovich. Wu Han, a native of Taiwan, made her way Stateside at age 20, subsequently studying with Lilian Kallir and Leon Fleisher at the Aspen and Marlboro Music Schools. The husband-and-wife team has been making music for 30 years.

The Composer of the Year is another pioneering artist. Meredith Monk was a “performance artist” long before the term was chic in the 70s and 80s. Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” grant, she has for 50 years been a singer, keyboardist, dancer, choreographer, director and film maker whose “music is often part of an all-embracing theatrical concept,” writes Clark. “Her wide-ranging influence has reached pop, jazz, and the visual arts.”

When Jaap van Zweden first conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2006 as a guest, Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell wrote, “Sell the farm, mortgage the children, cancel the cruise. Do what you have to do to get to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s concerts this weekend.” Now in the job for five years, the former concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw is a relative newcomer to the podium, but he has managed to turn the Dallas Symphony into a world-class orchestra in fairly short order.

It’s about time violinist Gil Shaham was named Instrumentalist of the Year. Shaham is a brilliant and passionate player, bringing a special kind of humanism to his interpretations. His latest project is to play violin concertos composed in the 1930s, including those by Berg, Stravinsky, Bartók, Barber, Walton, Prokofiev Second, and Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto “funebre,” with others to come. Shaham has made 20 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, and now records on his own label, Canary Records.

Jonas Kaufmann is Vocalist of the Year and the “it” tenor of the moment, having just wowed the crowd with a solo recital at the Metropolitan Opera. In the last two seasons he has sung “Tosca” and “Die Walküre” at the Met, and it’s a good bet that the company has booked him as far into the future as the eye can see. Currently he is preparing to sing the title role there of Gounod’s “Faust,” starting Nov. 29.

Musical America was founded as a weekly newspaper in 1898, and has since gone through a variety of incarnations, the most recent of which are the International Directory of the Performing Arts and http://www.musicalamerica.com, a subscription news and reviews website launched in December 1998.

Read the article at Musical America

Categories: Awards, Faculty
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