Rilling picks up Karajan music prize

Helmuth Rilling
Oregon Music News

By James Bash

Helmuth Rilling, artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival, has another feather in his cap, the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.

Helmuth Rilling, artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival at the University of Oregon, has been awarded the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize. The annual award is presented to an outstanding international musician in honor of the celebrated 20th century Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan by the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Germany’s largest concert hall.

First awarded in 2003 to the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, the prize includes 50,000 Euros in prize money, which must be used by the recipient to help further the careers of young musicians. Other recipients include the Berlin Philharmonic, Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin, and conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim.

“He is an outstanding personality of the international music scene and a tireless ambassador for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, ” said the director of the Festspielhaus, Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser, on Thursday, March 10.

Helmuth Rilling has created opportunities for young artists since 1953, when, as a college student, he founded the Gachinger Kantorei, the Stuttgart choir he still leads today. At the Oregon Bach Festival, he has mentored more than a thousand young conductors through his master class, which has been a core program of the festival since 1970. He was instrumental in forming the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, which each year gives 85 high school singers from across the U.S. the opportunity to learn and perform among the OBF’s professional artists.

In 2001, Rilling and his Stuttgart Bachakademie formed the Festival Ensemble, a summer experience for international musicians ages 18-28, culminating in performances at events such as the Salzburg Festival, Rheingau Festival, and the Bonn Beethoven Festival.

Rilling has introduced OBF audiences to scores of emerging vocal soloists including Christine Schaefer, Michael Schade, Ingeborg Danz, James Taylor, Tamara Wilson, and in 1995, Thomas Quasthoff, who won the Karajan prize in 2009.

Through the OBF and his Stuttgart Bachakademie Rilling has commissioned works from a new generation of composers including Osvaldo Golijov, Stephen Jaffe, Robert Kyr, Linda Bouchard, Tan Dun, and Wolfgang Rihm.

The award will be presented to Rilling in a gala ceremony at the Festspielhaus November 11, 2011.