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By Culturekiosque Staff

LEIPZIG, GERMANY, 9 SEPTEMBER 2008 - The XVI International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition Leipzig 2008 announced the winners during a recent prize ceremony in Leipzig's Old Town Hall. Altogether, 95 musicians from 23 countries competed in the categories organ, voice and violoncello/ baroque violoncello to win the coveted title of "Bach Prize Winner". The Hungarian/American Bálint Karosi, 29, won the organ division, followed by Ilpo Laspas from Finland and Lukas Stollhof from Germany. German soprano Marie Friederike Schöder won the first prize in voice, followed by Austrian Margot Oitzinger and bass Jens Hamann, also from Germany. In the category violoncello the first prize went to Philip Higham of the United Kingdom. Davit Melkonyan from Armenia and Toru Yamamoto from Japan shared the second prize. A third prize was not awarded.

Apart from the main prizes in the three categories (1st prize: 10,000 Euros, 2nd prize: 7,500 Euros - endowed by Sparkasse Leipzig, 3rd prize: 5,000 Euros), special prizes were awarded: the Commerzbank Foundation's special prize for the youngest finalist in the amount of 3,000 Euros went to the 21-year-old German cellist Arne-Christian Pelz. He will give a concert at the Bach Festival in 2010. Jolanta Kowalska from Poland received a stipend from the Christa Bach- Marschall Foundation for a master class. The special prize of the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra for a voice finalist was awarded to Marie Friederike Schöder and includes a concert with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra next season.

The 23 members of the three juries included Bach interpreters Ewald Kooiman (Netherlands), Michael Schönheit (Germany) and Masaaki Suzuki (Japan) in the organ jury; Wieland Kuijken (Belgium), Philippe Muller (France), Kristin von der Goltz (Germany, Norway), as well as Peter Bruns (Germany) for violoncello; Harry van der Kamp (Netherlands), Elisabeth von Magnus (Austria), Barbara Schlick (Germany) and James Taylor (USA) in the voice jury.

Prof. Robert D. Levin, president of the Bach Competition since 2000, summarized what had been characteristic of those ten days: "All contestants have faced the biggest challenge a musician can take on: the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. With their fascinating performances they have challenged our judgment, delighted and inspired us." Levin advised the music world: "Bear those names in mind; you are going to hear from them on many occasions in the next years."

The International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, first held in 1950, is regarded as one of the most important music competitions in Germany. Since 1992 the Bach Archives Leipzig host the Bach Competition, which takes place in the categories piano, harpsichord, organ, violin, violoncello and voice on a rotating basis.

The next Bach Competition in the categories harpsichord, piano and violin/baroque violin will take place in July 2010. In November 2009, there will be a master class on the performance practice of works by Johann Sebastian Bach held for the instruments mentioned above in preparation for the competition.

BOOK TIP: All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to Culturekiosque readers.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
By Christoph Wolff

Paperback: 624 pages
W. W. Norton & Company (September 2001)
ISBN-10: 0393322564
ISBN-13: 978-0393322569
$ 21.95 U.S

CD TIPS: All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to Culturekiosque readers.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Songs Without Words
Albrecht Mayer, oboe

Audio CD (August 2007)
Deutsche Grammophon
$26.99 U.S

Johann Sebastian Bach: Partitas Nos. 2,3,4
Murray Perahia, piano

Audio CD (June 2008)
Spars Code: DDD
Sony/Bmg Int'l
$32.99 U.S

J. S Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Glenn Gould, piano (1955)
Zenph (Hybrid SACD) CD
Sony Classical: 88697-03350-2
$18.98 U.S.

Currently available in stores and online throughout Canada and the United States, Zenph Studio's re-performance of pianist Glenn Gould's renowned 1955 rendition of the Bach Goldberg Variations offers the listener state-of-the-art sound on a new Sony BMG Masterworks hybrid multichannel SACD/CD disc, which includes versions tailored for surround sound and headphone listening. More significantly, Zenph Studio's computer-controlled sleight-of-hand replicates Gould's touch, timing and sound. For some fans of the Canadian pianist, the aural experience is that of a live performance rather than a recorded one. For skeptics, it is a piano roll on steroids. That said, Gould was fascinated by the technical and aesthetic possiblities of studio recording and would, no doubt, be intrigued by this latest software development.

Related Culturekiosque Archives

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CD Review: Netherlands Bach Society

Interview: Olivier Latry, Titular Organist of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris

CD Review: Bach's Cello Suites

Guide to Baroque Instruments

Maxim Vengerov: Baroque Violinist

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