Philippe Herreweghe wins Bach Prize

-Posted on 06.05.2016

The distinguished conductor Philippe Herreweghe has been announced as the 2016 winner of the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize, supported by the Kohn Foundation.

The Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe studied piano with Marcel Gazelle at the Ghent Conservatory. He also pursued training in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Ghent, graduating in 1975. He founded the Collegium Vocale Gent, which soon acquired distinction as one of Europe’s finest early music groups. Very soon, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt invited him and the Collegium Vocale Gent to join them in their recordings of the complete Bach cantatas. His extensive discography includes highly praised recordings of Bach’s St Matthew and St John Passion, B minor Mass and Christmas Oratorio, as well as repertoire ranging from Rameau to Schoenberg. Philippe Herreweghe has performed as a guest conductor with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Concerto Köln, Ensemble Musique Oblique, Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Wiener Philharmoniker, Orchestra of Saint Luke’s (New York) and Berliner Philharmoniker. In 1990 the European musical press elected him Musical Personality of the Year.

Philippe Herreweghe will be presented with the Bach Prize on Sunday 5th November 2017, when he will also conduct Academy students in Bach’s Cantata BWV 105 and the Mass in A major. This performance will be part of the ninth year of the Academy’s celebrated Bach Cantata series, presented in collaboration with the Kohn Foundation. Tickets will go on sale when the full programme of 2017 Cantata concerts is launched this Autumn.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal of the Academy, said: ‘Philippe Herreweghe has been at the heart of great Bach performance for four decades, his deeply considered interpretations central to our understanding of the composer’s choral work. The prospect of hearing BWV 105 under his direction is especially mouth-watering as his earliest recording of the piece represented a benchmark of this masterpiece's extraordinary qualities and the possibilities for the performer.’

The Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize, supported 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. Joining Professor Freeman-Attwood on the panel to select this year’s recipient were Sir Ralph Kohn and a section of past winners.

Philippe Herreweghe becomes the eleventh winner of the prize, which was established by the Kohn Foundation and is worth £10,000. Previous winners have been Professor Christoph Wolff, András Schiff, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Peter Schreier, Professor John Butt, Thomanerchor Leipzig, Masaaki Suzuki, Murray Perahia, Ton Koopman and Rachel Podger.

Photograph by M.Hendryckx

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