The ECHO KLASSIK awards were handed out tonight for the 24th year in a row at a glamorous gala event attended by a number of leading artists. The trophies are among the most prominent awards in the world of classical music and were presented at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg. One of Germany’s most popular entertainers, Thomas Gottschalk, hosted the event, which will is broadcast since 10pm tonight on the ZDF television channel. The ECHO KLASSIK 2017 will also be available for viewing in ZDF’s online library known as the “Mediathek”. The prize winners and presenters are currently celebrating with guests drawn from the worlds of culture, business, politics and society at a reception in the Elbphilharmonie. The ECHO KLASSIK is organised annually by Germany’s Music Industry Association (Bundesverband Musikindustrie or BVMI). This year’s official partner is Amazon Music Unlimited, with ŠKODA as its official sponsor.
Scores of classical music stars were on hand for the glamorous evening in Hamburg. Actor Sebastian Koch presented tenor Jonas Kaufmann with the ECHO KLASSIK in the category “Bestseller of the Year” for his album “Dolce Vita”; Kaufmann then thrilled the audience with a live display of his extraordinary talent. The American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who also appeared live, received the award for “Singer of the Year” from actor Meret Becker, while baritone Matthias Goerne was presented the ECHO for “Singer of the Year” by actor Tobias Moretti. Former Bundestag president Norbert Lammert presented the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with an award in the category “Classical Music without Borders”. Film star Katja Riemann also gave an ECHO KLASSIK in the same category to violinist Daniel Hope. Television host Katty Salié presented the ECHO KLASSIK to Maurizio Pollini in the category “Instrumentalist/Piano”.
The speech honouring opera singer, director and author Brigitte Fassbaender for her life’s work was given by Bernd Loebe, artistic director of Frankfurt Opera. Fassbaender was visibly moved by the honour: She apparently was touched: "I am full of joy and gratitude." Turning to her laudator, she commented: "You said, I have received so many awards already, but this one really is a highlight."
Ksenija Sidorova (“Instrumentalist/Accordion”) and Camille Thomas (“Chamber Music Recording”) were honoured by Jazz trumpeter Till Brönner, while Lucas Debargue (“Best New Artist/Piano”) was lauded by pianist Olga Scheps. Sopranos Aida Garifullina (“Solo Recording”) and Pretty Yende (“Best New Artist”) received their ECHO KLASSIK awards directly from host Thomas Gottschalk himself.
American conductor Kent Nagano was named “Conductor of the Year” by the ECHO jury. Nagano also led the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, which accompanied the artists appearing live in the Elbphilharmonie’s Großer Saal.
A total of 54 awards were handed out in 22 categories at this year’s ECHO KLASSIK. Other prize winners included stars such as Christian Tetzlaff for his work as an instrumentalist (violin), composer Fazıl Say for his recording of the complete piano sonatas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Ensemble of the RIAS Chamber Choir.
In addition to appearances by Jonas Kaufmann and Joyce DiDonato, a number of other artists performed this evening, including Daniel Hope, Matthias Goerne, Maurizio Pollini, Lucas Debargue, Pretty Yende, Aida Garifullina, Ksenija Sidorova, Camille Thomas, the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Kent Nagano.
“Although 2017 marks the 24th year we’ve handed out the ECHO KLASSIK awards, it was nevertheless a fantastic premiere, because it was the first time our gala took place in the spectacular new Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall”, noted BVMI Managing Director Florian Drücke. “The opportunity to experience such a multitude of fantastic artists, genres and styles in this fascinating concert hall was an unforgettable experience for everyone in attendance. But above all, this evening showed us once again that the ECHO KLASSIK is the ideal forum to reflect the enormous range offered by classical music. The wide array and level of artistic quality on display here tonight was absolutely unique”.
Statements made by the artists as well as images of the award winners, presenters and guests from the tv show, red carpet and photo call can be found in the online press area at www.echoklassik.de/klassik-presse as well as at www.presseportal.zdf.de/presse/echoklassik2017.
Please find below an overview of the ECHO KLASSIK 2017 prize winners (in alphabetic order; for an overview of prize winners according to categories, please visit www.echoklassik.de):