On the evening of December 5th, David and Wu Han accepted Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year award in a special celebration at Lincoln Center. Also honored were Instrumentalist of the Year, Gil Shaham; Composer of the Year, Meredith Monk; Vocalist of the Year, Jonas Kaufmann; and Conductor of the Year, Jaap van Zweden. Watch David and Wu Han’s acceptance speech below:
In David’s words
It was a very, very long and wonderful day.
At 5 a.m. in Aarhus Denmark with a ride to the airport courtesy of Mogens Kilian (see previous tour report),we began our journey through Copenhagen to New York to receive the greatest honor of our careers.
Musical America’s Musician of the Year Award is the highest honor in classical music given in America, and is recognized around the world. We have proudly joined a list of recipients that includes Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Anna Netrebko, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Andre Previn, and Bernard Haitink.
Musical America was founded in 1898 as a weekly arts newspaper. Over the years the publication passed through various hands. The first incarnation of what is today’s annual issue appeared in 1921, and has evolved to become the bible of musical presenting, including articles on honoree musicians, advertisements, listings of virtually all artists worldwide under professional management, and reports by managers on their current artistic offerings. The practice of awarding a musician of the year award began in 1960. In 1998, Musical America launched musicalamerica.com, which has since become a source of choice for the most up-to-date news the music world.
When we first heard about an award coming our way from Musical America, we surmised that perhaps we were being recognized as instrumentalists, or educators. We needed to be told several times, after numerous double-checkings, that we were indeed to receive the top award.
The fact is still somewhat surreal. That this award wound up in the hands of musicians who have gone about their business unconcerned with market pressures and commercial considerations is not only incredible but historic. When we started ArtistLed, we were alone and had no idea that so many institutions and artists would follow us down the path of independent recording production. We have always thought of ourselves as servants of the art, never as celebrities, and we have never sought the spotlight as a source of gratification for our efforts. Our lives in music have always been about “the work”, as we call it, but what makes the Musical America award so special for us is that we have received it because of that work, not just for our instrumental activities.
The awards ceremony began just after 6 p.m. in Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse – familiar territory for us, as it is located on the 10th floor of the Rose Building, just across from the offices of the Chamber Music Society.
The room was packed with what seemed to be every important person in the classical music industry. Everywhere we looked, the magazine cover, with our beautiful picture by Christian Steiner, was prominently displayed. There was nowhere for us to hide on this occasion!
Musical America editor Sedgwick Clark paid tribute to the honorees and handed each of us our awards. We all made speeches acknowledging those who have helped and supported us, and spoke of what this award meant to us.
It was especially wonderful to receive the award in the company of two friends of many years, Meredith Monk and Gil Shaham. We all had fun congratulating each other and posing for photographs.
As the awards ceremony came to an end at 7 p.m., we moved next door to the Society’s Rose Studio, which had been set for a special invited dinner party in our honor. Jointly hosted by CMS, Music@Menlo and ArtistLed, this gathering of over one hundred brought together, for the first time, people from our various walks of life, all known to us but not necessarily to each other. It was a way for us to acknowledge and thank all those without whom such an honor as we had just received would likely have never have reached our hands.
Joining us from Music@Menlo were Executive Director Edward Sweeney, plus board members Trine Sorensen, Kathy Henschel, Ann Bowers, and Eff Martin, accompanied by his wife Patty.
With Eff and Patty Martin
Ann Bowers spoke on behalf of Music@Menlo
Wu Han with Trine Sorenson
Virtually the entire board of the Chamber Music Society was present, minus Chairman Peter Frelinghuysen who is recovering from eye surgery. James O’Shaughnessy of CMS delivered a warm tribute to us, as Music@Menlo board member Ann Bowers. Ara Guzelimian and our own Patrick Castillo gave us tributes as well. It was all quite overwhelming.
CMS Board Member James O’Shaughnessy
As a birthday present (my birthday was the following day) the staff of CMS shared the amazing short film they had put together of the historic CMS billboard that made a brief but very significant appearance on New York’s West Side Highway in November.
Milina Barry, Michael Feldman, David Rowe
Da-Hong Seetoo, Margaret Seetoo, Liza Bruna, Sam Zygmuntowicz
Wu Han and I, in a lengthy speech, acknowledged and thanked individually and collectively our guests, all of whom had contributed to our projects in one way or another. From board members to funders, to staff members of our organizations, to individuals such as Sam Zygmuntowicz and Da-Hong Seetoo, to professionals such as our PR agent Milina Barry and and manager David Rowe, to musician colleagues and advisors, and of course our families, we thanked them all for their support, faith in us, and their friendship.
Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki
Lucille Chung and Alessio Bax
Of special joy for us was the presence of musicians. Joining us was a stellar collection of pianists, from Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki to Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung, and especially Gloria Chien, who made the journey all the way from Chattanooga to join us for the evening.
Ann Bowers, Helen Finckel
With Helen and Lilian Finckel
Of special satisfaction to me was the presence of my mother Helen, glowing with pride. Wu Han’s sister Evelyne, her husband Eric, and daughter Elizabeth also journeyed from California for the event.
Having been awake for close to 24 hours, Wu Han and I headed home for a very brief night’s sleep, as I was to head out the next morning early for an ESQ concert in West Palm Beach.