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By Culturekiosque Staff

LEIPZIG, GERMANY, 10 JUNE 2010 — The Flemish conductor and Bach performer Philippe Herreweghe will receive this year's Bach Medal of the City of Leipzig. In the course of the annual Bachfest, the director of the Collegium Vocale Gent will be awarded the Medal for his commitment to the work of Johann Sebastian Bach with a ceremony and concert on 12 June 2010.

Mr. Herreweghe is considered to be one of the most important protagonists of  the historically informed performance of European early music, and for some, without rival in his almost uncanny ability to elicit great beauty and exquisite clarity from his choir in the oratorio passions, B-minor Mass and devotional cantatas of Bach.

Born in Ghent in 1947, Philippe Herreweghe combined university studies in medicine and psychiatry with musical training at the Ghent Conservatory, where he studied with Marcel Gazelle (piano), Gabriel Verschraegen (organ) and Johan Huys (harpsichord). During that time, he also started conducting and in 1970 he founded the ensemble Collegium Vocale Ghent, a highly-esteemed 18-voice chorus and period-instrument orchestra. Almost simultaneously, he helped rescue French baroque music from oblivion with his establishment of La Chapelle Royale in France.

And while he eventually abandoned medicine, Mr. Herreweghe soon distinguished himself not only with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt on their recording project of the complete Bach cantatas, but also later in the 1990s in the interpretation of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) and Johannes Hermann Schein (1586-1630), the two leading early German baroque composers. There too, Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent  are justly admired for their contemplative journeys inside the Protestant soul.

Since 2003, the City of Leipzig awards the Meissen porcelain medal with Bach's portrait annually to internationally outstanding musicians. In previous years, Frieder Bernius (2009), Hermann Max (2008), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (2007), Ton Koopman (2006), Sir John Eliot Gardiner (2005), Helmuth Rilling (2004) and Gustav Leonhardt (2003) received the award. This year, the award ceremony, which is held in the Alte Handelsbörse (Old Stock Exchange) in the presence of the Leipzig mayor Burkhard Jung, will be open to Bachfest visitors as well.

Later in the evening, Philippr Herreweghe will lead the Collegium Vocale Gent and soloists Dorothee Mields (soprano), Damien Guillon (countertenor), Colin Balzer (tenor), Peter Kooij (bass) in performances of Bach's  Cantata BWV 197 "Gott ist unsre Zuversicht", Cantata BWV 192 "Nun danket alle Gott", Cantata BWV 120 "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille" and Cantata BWV 119 "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn" at St Nicholas Church.

Leipzig's 12th Bachfest takes place from 11 to 20 June, together with the 85th Bach Festival of the Neue Bachgesellschaft e.v. Entitled "Bach, Schumann and Brahms", the festival features a total of 113 events in 38 different venues.

For the complete programme and information on ticket booking, please visit www.bachfestleipzig.de.

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