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The Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize, sponsored by the Kohn Foundation, is awarded annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the performance and/or scholarly study of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This year’s prize has been awarded to the Thomanerchor Leipzig, the boys’ choir which in 2012 will celebrate the 800th anniversary of its foundation.
The Thomanerchor becomes the sixth winner of the prize, which was established by the Kohn Foundation and is worth £10,000. Previous winners have been Professor Christoph Wolff (2006), András Schiff (2007), Sir John Eliot Gardiner (2008), Peter Schreier (2009), and John Butt (2010). Professor Christoff Wolff, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and András Schiff were on the selection panel which awarded this year’s prize, along with Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (Principal of the Royal Academy of Music) and Sir Ralph Kohn FRS, FRAM (Kohn Foundation).
Professor Christoph Wolff commented: “This represents a wonderful recognition of what is one of the oldest and continuously active performing ensembles in the world, whose one-time conductor was none other than JSB himself. This honours him posthumously!”
The Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize for 2011 will be presented to the Thomanerchor at a special concert on Sunday 11th March 2012 in the Academy’s Duke’s Hall, as part of the successful Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata Series. Thomaskantor Georg Christoph Biller will direct the Thomanerchor Leipzig and the Royal Academy of Music Baroque Orchestra in an all-Bach programme: the Motet BWV226 ‘Der Geist hilft’, Oboe Concerto BWV1056 and Motet BWV225 ‘Singet dem Herrn’. Tickets for the complete 2012 series, including this concert, will be available at the Academy’s Box Office from October 3rd 2011 and online at www.ram.ac.uk/events.
In a happy coincidence, on 15th June 2011 Sir Ralph Kohn was awarded the Medal of Honour of the City of Leipzig. The citation read: “For many years Sir Ralph Kohn has given vital expression to his deep reverence for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the composer’s special connection to his native city of Leipzig. As a medical scientist, Sir Ralph has received international recognition and achieved remarkable success in his professional field, to which the Kohn Foundation owes its origin. This foundation is dedicated not only to science and education, but also to music, for which Sir Ralph’s heart beats with particular passion.
“Out of this passion, the Leipzig-born singer, together with his wife, Lady Zahava Kohn, has been involved with and championed the Bach Archive, the renovation of the Bach Museum, the Chorherren Foundation at St Thomas’s, the St Thomas Boys’ Choir, and the Bachfest Leipzig in an outstanding manner. Sir Ralph has rendered exceptional service to the cultural life of the City of Leipzig and, in addition, enhanced the international prestige of Leipzig in his adopted country of Great Britain. Old Leipzig tradition has been carried over into modern London by the enthusiastically received series of monthly Bach cantata performances at the Royal Academy of Music launched in 2008 and supported by him. For his activities, Sir Ralph has earned the gratitude and recognition of the City of Leipzig.”