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Drive Time - 25th May, 2012

Friday, 25 May 2012 , ora 9.11
It seems that May was an important month for the European music industry: if in the capital of Sweden the Polar Music Awards were awarded on 8th May, in London, the winners of this year's edition of the London Royal Philharmonic Society Awards were named - as it was stated by the BBC Music Magazine. Recognized as prime rank distinctions ever since 1989 - which proves the calibre of the musicians awarded and their influence on the social and cultural life in general - the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards - named after the institution founded in 1813 - were awarded in the luxurious London hotel, Dorchester. The big winners of this year's edition were conductor Claudio Abbado and pianist Maurizio Pollini, while pianist Mitsuko Uchida received the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society - something that has happened very rarely throughout the history of the above mentioned awards.

The Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado, won the award in the competition with nominees like Gianandrea Noseda and Donald Runnicles - thanks to the concerts he conducted at the music rack of the Lucerna Festival's Orchestra, on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall in 2011. And Maurizio Pollini was named 'Instrumentalist of the Year' because he is 'a giant at the piano, a name renown worldwide which has nothing to do with publicity'. The British composers Jonathan Harvey and Sally Beamish, cellist Oliver Coates, Apartment House new music Ensemble, and also the Scotland National Youth Choir were among the winners of the edition.

Because this year is the anniversary of a century since the birth of the mezzo-soprano Kathleen Ferrier, at the Theatre in the British city of Perth, was a recital performed by three musicians: mezzo-soprano Diana Moore, baritone Christopher Glynn and bass Brian Kay. On the playbill there were traditional music pieces and also famous ones, selected out of the works of composers Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms.

Born on 22nd April, 1912, Kathleen Ferrier - a landmark name of the international opera stage, with an impressive record - continues being a singular destiny in the European music of the first half of the 20th century. From being a telephone operator to a successful artistic career, from amateur piano competitions to an extremely varied vocal repertoire, there was nothing impossible for Kathleen Ferrier. Singing became her vocation only in 1937, after winning an important competition in the Carlisle Festival. Three years later she performed in the Messias oratorio by Handel, and in 1941 she sang together with the famous soprano Isobel Baillie. She also partnered on stage with tenor Peter Pears, and among the pieces they sang, the 'The Song of the Earth' (Das Lied von der Erde) by Gustav Mahler was among the most important ones. In January 1948, when she did her first American tour, Kathleen Ferrier performed the piece by Mahler right in front of his widow, Alma Mahler. Talking about his work with the musician, conductor Bruno Walter said at the time that he 'recognized from the start that standing in front of him was one of the greatest singers of our time'. Time has only backed up those words.

Tomorrow, Bucharest will resonate with quality music, Pink Martini trademark - the American mini-orchestra being in full promotional tour of the 'A Retrospective' record, launched last year. What are the reasons that this band with the name of a pink cocktail is so expected in our country? The three concerts they will perform in Romania - because after the one tomorrow night, which will be at the Palace Hall, the ensemble will perform on 28th May in Timisoara and on 29th May in Cluj-Napoca. Recently arrived from Poland, the musicians - led by pianist Thomas Lauderdale - can be heard during a varied musical programme - they are performing pieces from classical music repertoire, famous musicals, jazz or lounge. It seems that the stops of the Pink Martini band in Romania are becoming a habit - the ensemble having another reason to celebrate - sixteen years of existence.

Alexandra Cebuc
Translated by Florina Sămulescu
MTTLC, Bucharest University