Sir John Eliot Gardiner is to be presented with the Critics’ Circle’s Outstanding Musician award for 2013, his 70th year and the Critics Circle’s centenary.
Awards for exceptional young talent have also been awarded to conductor Ryan Wigglesworth, countertenor Iestyn Davies and pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. These awards are made annually ‘to recognise both achievement and promise’ across three categories: singer, instrumentalist, and conductor or composer.
Guy Dammann, chair of the Critics’ Circle Music Section, said of Sir John Eliot Gardiner that he represented ‘that rare figure among musicians in being both a household name and an artist of uncompromising vision’.
‘His exceptional creative energy and drive is as immediately palpable today as it was when he founded the Monteverdi Choir almost 50 years ago, and is equally evident in his live music making as it is in the stream of new projects on which he embarks every year.
‘In this, the year of his 70th birthday, also the year which marks the fruition of his visionary and vast Bach Cantatas series, it is hard to think of a musician in our lifetime who has done more to shape and change the way we listen to music, both directly through his own creative work and also indirectly, through the generations of musicians he has guided and inspired.’
The two previous winners of the outstanding musician award are composer and conductor Oliver Knussen and the conductor Daniel Barenboim.
Wigglesworth, who works as both conductor and composer, conducted the January 2013 revival of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House, as a replacement for an injured Antonio Pappano, and autumn 2012 performances of Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! at Aldeburgh and the Barbican.
Iestyn Davies, who performed at short notice at this year’s Last Night of the Proms, wrote on Twitter that he was ‘so pleased to get this, no more than today on another birthday…I’m STILL YOUNG!’.
Sudbin’s recent disc of Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Liszt was called ‘a truly great disc, inspired and inspiring’ by the Telegraph’s Geoffrey Norris in February.
The Critics’ Circle music section awards were reinstated in 2011 and are now in their third year.