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'Musical America' Names van Zweden Conductor of the Year

by Jerome Weeks 3 Nov 2011 10:58 AM

Good choice, no?


Since 1960, Musical America has presented annual awards, beginning with ‘Musician of the Year,’ and adding ‘Conductor of the Year’ in 1992. This year, the DSO’s musical director, Jaap van Zweden, joins such previous, baton-wielding winners as Michael Tilson Thomas (1995) and Colin Davis (1997).

The citation says, in part, “His music-making is hailed internationally for its intense discipline as well as passion and tenderness. Under his leadership for five years, the Dallas Symphony plays like one of the world’s great orchestras, as critics noted in a performance at Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival last May.”

UPDATE: The DMN‘s Scott Cantrell just pointed out to me that MA is wrong. Van Zweden has been with the DSO only four years.

At any rate, other winners include Meredith Monk for ‘Composer of the Year’ and for the first time, two ‘Musicians of the Year,’ cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han.

The press release follows, natch:


Cellist David Finckel and Pianist Wu Han Named Musicians of the Year

Meredith Monk, Jaap van Zweden, Gil Shaham, and Jonas Kaufmann Recognized as Composer, Conductor, Instrumentalist, and Vocalist of the Year

NEW YORK, N.Y. Nov. 8Musical America, now in its third century as the indispensable resource for the performing arts, 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 2012 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 will be presented in a special ceremony at Lincoln Center on December 5.


For the first time in the history of these awards, Musical America honors two musicians on its cover: cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han. Critics have praised their boldness, imagination, and collaborative intimacy, but their performing virtuosity is only the starting point of their achievements. Their artistic direction of such important organizations as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo, as well as a history of innovation in programming, recording, and outreach, have combined 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. David Finckel received his first cello at age 10 and at 17 became the first American student of the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. In 1979 he became cellist of the Emerson String Quartet (Musical America‘s Ensemble of the Year in 2000). Wu Han came to the United States from her native Taiwan at age 20, subsequently studying with Lilian Kallir and Leon Fleisher at the Aspen and Marlboro Music Schools. This dynamic husband-and-wife duo was first to initiate its own Internet-based record label, ArtistLed. Now in the 30th year of their musical collaboration, Finckel says, “passing the torch became a huge priority in our lives. There is nothing more gratifying. We are in a blessed position.”


Meredith Monk has been a source of amazement in American new music for nearly half a century, and she has the accolades to prove it: a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, marathon retrospective concerts at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, a prestigious record label (ECM), commissions from the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Kronos Quartet, and Houston Grand Opera. Her wide-ranging influence has reached pop, jazz, and the visual arts. Being a composer who is, in addition, a singer, keyboardist, dancer, choreographer, director, and film maker, the impetus for her music is often part of an all-embracing theatrical concept. It would be hard to locate another composer of her originality or spiritual depth in the Western classical tradition who has used her body to Monk’s degree, to make music.


Jaap van Zweden was concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw when Leonard Bernstein encouraged him to study conducting, and he is now in demand throughout the world. His music-making is hailed internationally for its intense discipline as well as passion and tenderness. Under his leadership for five years, the Dallas Symphony plays like one of the world’s great orchestras, as critics noted in a performance at Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival last May. He is a favorite guest conductor at the Chicago Symphony, where he will lead three weeks of concerts this season, and he also appears with the orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and St. Louis. A European tour with Dallas is planned for 2013.


Gil Shaham celebrated the 30th anniversary of his first public performance last year. Now 40, he is a familiar soloist on television broadcasts and has received such esteemed awards as the Avery Fisher Prize in 2008 and the Premio Internazionale of Siena’s Accademia Chigiana in 1992. Praised for his uncommon balance of virtuosity and warmth, he has embarked on an imaginative retrospective of the remarkable series of violin concertos composed in the 1930s: Berg, Stravinsky, Bartók, Barber, Walton, Prokofiev Second, and Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, with many others to come. He has amassed a discography of over 20 CDs for Deutsche Grammophon and now records for his own label, Canary Records.


Jonas Kaufmann has triumphed in a wide-ranging repertory that has included Werther in Paris, Tosca and Traviata at La Scala, and Lohengrin at Bayreuth. The secret of his success–apart from being, in the words of one critic, “a great, great artist”–is his refusal to be typed as a “French tenor,” an “Italian tenor,” or a “German tenor.” At the Metropolitan Opera his future was cemented over the last two seasons in Tosca and Die Walküre, and he will star in new productions annually for as far as the eye can see. He made his New York recital debut on the Met stage in October, and he sings the title role in the company’s new production of Gounod’s Faust, opening on November 29.


Founded as a weekly newspaper in 1898, Musical America through the years has appeared in a variety of formats. Today, it is both the International Directory of the Performing Arts and

The annual Directory, known as the “bible” of the industry, features over 14,000 detailed listings of worldwide arts organizations, with over 8,000 artists indexed both alphabetically and categorically. The first Directory was published in 1960, which is also when the tradition of choosing a Musician of the Year began. (A complete list is below). Awards for Instrumentalist, Conductor, Composer, and Vocalist of the Year date from 1992; Ensemble of the Year from 1995. All are available at

Returning to Musical America‘s newspaper roots, was launched in December 1998 and now publishes up to six performing arts news stories daily, by national and international correspondents around the globe. Most of the Directory listings are also available at

Musical America is published by UBM Global Trade (, a subsidiary of United Business Media plc ( and a leading data publisher, information services provider, and conference producer in the business-to-business community.