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Musical America Announces 2013 Musician of the Year

Musical America, now in its third century, today announced the winners of the annual Musical America Awards, recognizing artistic excellence and achievement in the arts.

The announcement coincides with the publication of the 2013 Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts, which, in addition to its comprehensive industry listings, pays homage to each of these artists in its editorial pages.

The annual Musical America Awards, sponsored by Deutsche Grammophon will be presented in a special ceremony at Lincoln Center on Thursday, December 6.

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR: GUSTAVO DUDAMEL

 

In eight short years, 31-year-old Gustavo Dudamel has become more in demand than any conductor in the world. He is a household name in Los Angeles, where he is music director of the Philharmonic. He is mobbed in Berlin, Vienna, Milan, London, and Caracas, Venezuela, where he is one of his country's best-known and well-loved celebrities. Often compared to Leonard Bernstein, Dudamel shares the American conductor's charisma, tireless advocacy for music education, and expressive music-making. Dudamel studied violin as a child, and in his early teens he was invited to study conducting with José Antonio Abreu, architect of Venezuela's famed El Sistema music-education program. At age 18 he became music director of the Sistema's elite Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. In 2004, at age 23, he won the Bamberg Symphony's Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, and in 2007 he began a five-year appointment with Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony, which recently ended with his being named honorary conductor. His Los Angeles appointment, which began in September 2009, has been distinguished by the orchestra's founding of the Sistema-like Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) and a continuation of the orchestra's and his own commitment to new music, notably that of John Adams, who is the LAPhil's creative consultant.

 

COMPOSER OF THE YEAR: David Lang

 

Musical America Announces 2013 Musician of the YearDavid Lang's early music, laced with elements of rock and minimalism, was at once bracing and controversial, heavily influenced by the Bang on a Can school he co-founded. As he tells critic Tim Page in Musical America's tribute, however, "People should change as they get older, and I did." Lang's the little match girl passion, set not for rock band but for a rarified quartet of two sopranos, tenor, and bass-baritone, all of whom play small percussion instruments, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. A setting of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it has been performed several hundred times internationally and also has been staged and choreographed. He made his New York City Ballet debut withplainspoken in 2010. Among numerous commissions, his new theater work, whisper opera, will receive its premiere in Chicago early next year by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Photo: Peter Serling

 

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR: WU MAN 

 

Musical America Announces 2013 Musician of the YearWu Man is the very model of a modern soloist. More importantly, her work is part of a big step in the evolution of Western classical music. The best measure of her achievement is that her instrument, the pipa--a Chinese lute that dates back some 2,000 years--is no longer an exotic curiosity. Symphony audiences have heard her perform concertos by Lou Harrison and Tan Dun. She performs regularly with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, as a soloist in Bang on a Can marathons, and in chamber groups and orchestras giving the premieres of works by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Chen Yi, and Bright Sheng, who have written pipa parts into their works with her sound and dexterity in mind.

Photo: Stephen Kahn

 

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Joyce DiDonato

Musical America Announces 2013 Musician of the YearJoyce DiDonato is the American opera singer par excellence. Onstage or off, there are few people in opera who radiate this Kansas native's degree of natural goodness and warmth. For all these qualities, however, the intensity, fury, and abandon of roles such as Donizetti's Maria Stuarda are well within her emotional range, as she proved at Houston Grand Opera last season. This season she performs a recital program called "Drama Queens," featuring Baroque arias sung by royal characters (recorded by Virgin Records). Operatic appearances include a reprise of the title role in Maria Stuarda at the Metropolitan Opera, Romeo in Bellini'sI Capuleti e i Montecchi in Munich and Kansas City, Elena inRossini's La donna del lago in Santa Fe, and the title role inCendrillon in Barcelona.

Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR: JOSE ANTONIO ABREU 

Musical America Announces 2013 Musician of the YearJosé Antonio Abreu has been hailed as a visionary, not only in his native Venezuela but throughout the world, as architect of the extraordinary music-education program called El Sistema. He is quick to point out that "Venezuela's musical miracle" is not a musical project, but a social action project. Some of his students, 80 percent of whom have come from low-income backgrounds, have gone on to be performers and music teachers, but many are

politicians, diplomats, academics, teachers, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, and community leaders--in short, pillars of society. El Sistema represents education in the widest possible sense, and Abreu, at 74, is still lit from within by the fire of its possibility.

Photo: El Sistema

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