ISM celebrates singer Sarah Connolly

Sunday 1 January 2012

The ISM has honoured the achievements of British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly CBE by presenting her with the Distinguished Musician Award for 2011. The award was presented by the ISM’s President Paul Max Edlin at our corporate members’ networking lunch in the London Coliseum, home to English National Opera.

Sarah Connolly with ISM President Paul Max Edlin who presented her with the Distinguished Musician Award for 2011

Above: Sarah Connolly with ISM President Paul Max Edlin who presented her the award

Established in 1976, the award is made each year to a musician who has made an outstanding contribution to British musical life. Previous recipients include Dame Janet Baker, Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Jacqueline du Pré, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Michael Tippett and Sir William Walton. The 2010 award was presented to composer Judith Weir.

This year’s award recognises Sarah Connolly’s position at the heart of British musical life. She regularly performs at the world’s great opera houses and concert halls, and collaborates with many leading artists of our day.

Introducing Sarah, Paul Max Edlin explained why she was a most worthy recipient of the award:

‘There are a few people that one may be fortunate enough to meet in the course of life that make a real impact – an impact that inspires, encourages aspiration, reminds us that the highest values and highest quality are both achievable aims.

‘Sarah Connolly is the foremost British mezzo-soprano, a model to all musicians, and an inspiration, especially to singers. She is also one of the very best actors who has the rare ability to transfix her audience. As a brilliant artist and glorious singer, she epitomises the very best that human aspiration can be, and it is for all these great gifts that we present her with this year’s ISM Distinguished Musician Award.’

In a heart-felt acceptance speech, Sarah spoke of her admiration for the ISM’s work, and her thoughts on teaching and performing music:

‘Any award from musicians to a musician always carries extra importance, as we are notoriously hard to please! I appreciate all the work the ISM does in connecting people, representing musicians in legal matters, and fighting to keep music alive in schools.

‘I have enjoyed giving masterclasses in most of the UK’s conservatoires over the past two years … I found I wanted to teach them in the Socratic sense; ‘educare’, knowledge from within. I want singers to ask themselves the right questions. I want to show them how to find the right repertoire in which they can best express their love of the music and the composer’s wishes.

‘I have been lucky enough to have sung music that has always given me pleasure, but this comes with considerable responsibility … My method has something to do with curiosity, empathy, love and a powerful desire to sing.’

Sarah finished by reading some words from the poet, Rilke:

‘being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like a tree which does not force it’s sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.’

‘Thank you for honouring me with this year’s Distinguished Musician Award.’

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2012 edition of Music Journal.

 

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