That means that the Ginger Stripe Awards of 2013 were the last. But the spiritual presence of Richard and Cosima Wagner as guests of honour has turned out to be prophetic...
|Cosima and Richard are back - aka Cosi and Ricki|
So please come in, once again, to our cyberposhplace, newly decked out in elegant brown and silver decor. Please leave your outer selves in the cloakroom.
All your loved ones are here today for the winter solstice; your favourite tipple is on offer, whether it is specialist vodka from Krakow or English sparkly from Hampshire; and you can eat whatever you most enjoy, whether it's roast duck and red cabbage, or nut roast, or gluten-free chocolate cake made with 95 per cent cocoa solids or.....
Next, our habitual round of applause for every musician who has touched the hearts of his or her audience in this past year. You're wonderful, our marvellous musicians. Your art makes life worth living. And we should never forget it.
Thank you! Quiet, please. Would the following winners please approach the cat-tree where Ricki and Cosi, beautifully brushed for the occasion, will give you a seriously fuzzy cuddle and their trademark pile-driver purrs. And the spirit of Great Uncle Solti is not far away.
Icon of the Year: John Ogdon, one of the most astounding, inspiring, heartbreaking and tragic figures of British music in the 20th century. This year marks 25 years since his untimely death. He is the topic of a very fine biography by Charles Beauclerk, Piano Man, which I recommend highly to anyone who's still looking for a pianoy Xmas present.
String Player of the Year: Julian Lloyd Webber, who has been obliged to call time on his performing career due to a chronic injury. The concert platform's loss is the activists' gain: Julian is a very special spokesperson for music education and for the cause of music for all, and his role as figurehead for Sistema England is absolutely vital, especially at a time when El Sistema is coming under vicious attack. Julian, hang in there. We love you and we need you.
Singer of the Year: Joseph Calleja, you star - what a voice you have, what charisma, and what a terrific talk we had for Opera Now. I adored your Alfredo in Munich, but would gladly listen to you singing the shopping list. You are also the only singer who has volunteered information on the effect of sex life on singing.
|Bayreuth: Seeing is believing|
Youthful Artist of the Year: Ilyich Rivas, the very young Venezuelan conductor who has been in our sights for a while, made a spectacular debut with the LPO back in March. More about the evening here. Hope to hear him again soon - he's going to be mega, IMHO.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dear Sir András Schiff, vast congratulations on receiving music's best-deserved knighthood. We love you, but more importantly, just about every young pianist I've been talking to recently loves you too. Your influence is profound.
Colleagues of the Year: A huge cheer to all my lovely editors, to my wonderful violinist David Le Page and pianists Viv McLean and Murray McLachlan, and to festival directors Stephen Barlow of Buxton, who let us take Alicia's Gift home to Derbyshire, and Anthony Wilkinson of the Wimbledon International Music Festival - who coolly rescheduled the show for another venue when the Orange Tree went pear-shaped. And, last but by no means least, the inimitable Chopin Society, run by Lady Rose Cholmondeley and Gill Newman - such a fantastical organisation that you just couldn't make it up. Performing Alicia's Gift there in September, interviewing Andrzej Jasinski in November and dancing the night away at their glorious gala the other day means they have a very special place in this year's calendar of colleagues. If this year's awards are looking rather Polish, then so they should.
Jonas Kaufmann, we met at last [for BBC Music Magazine, right]. Yours remains the only interview to date for which I've worn snow boots. It wasn't quite the glamorous look I'd hoped to adopt for the occasion, but it was awfully cold in New York. I'm so pleased that you're as fascinating in person as you are on stage.
Opera of the Year: Benvenuto Cellini at ENO, directed by Terry Gilliam. The perfect match of off-the-wall piece and director, delivered with flair and rapture and fabulous imagination - but best of all was the ENO chorus belting out "Applaud and laud all art and artisans!" and audibly meaning every syllable of it.
Ballet of the Year: I adored watching Connectome, Alastair Marriott's new ballet for Natalia Osipova, coming into being. What a treat to be in the studio only a few metres away from the Osipova Leap!
Stuffed Turkey: Not a performance, but a reaction to one. That disgraceful incident now known as "Dumpygate".
And a few personal highlights:
Proudest moment: Deciding What To Do About Wagner. You face the facts. You face the nastiness. You look it all squarely, head on, and you think it over: OK, either I can never listen to a note of it again; or I can admit that I know all this, but now I'm going to put that aside and simply get on with loving the music. Decided on latter. End of story.
Weirdest moment: I spent much of the summer and autumn sick as the proverbial dog with what I later learned was whooping cough. I went along to the Rattle/Berliner Philharmoniker/Peter Sellars St Matthew Passion at the Proms before the bug had been diagnosed. And I sat there in reverential silence with streaming eyes and chest in spasm, managing not to cough aloud, waiting desperately for the thing to be over. But the final chord did not bring the expected relief, because the silence after it went on...and on...and on....and on.........and on........ and there could have been no worse moment in the entire evening to make a noise. I managed not to - but honest to goodness, guv, I thought I was going to die.
Biggest sigh of relief: Getting through not just that evening, but a range of concerts, talks and broadcasts without losing my voice or alternatively crashing at high volume due to said illness.
Quote of the Year: "Applaud and laud all art and artisans..." Monsieur Hector tells it like it is!
Wonderful Webmaster of the Year: Thank you, dear and marvellous Horst Kolo, for your ever-devoted updating, archiving and moral support.
Felines of the year: two little cats from school - small, fluffy, silvery and chocolatey and not very far from here.
Thank you, everyone! We miss our lost loved ones, but we will make the most of whatever life brings us and fight on for the values of humanity, compassion, fulfilment, development, high standards and genuine artistry that bind us together. We are all interdependent in the end, and we should never forget that either. If you don't subscribe to these values, you probably don't read JDCMB, which increasingly I am being told is "the voice of reason" in the musical blogosphere. We won't do near-porn for hits (or for anything else), we won't accept mass madness, witch-hunts, blind prejudice or bullies, we stand up for what's right and we wish to change what isn't. We praise liberty, equality and siblinghood - and we applaud and laud all art and artisans!
Now please have another glass, sit back and enjoy a very special performance by the miraculous young pianist who keeps alive my faith in the future of British music and musicians: Benjamin Grosvenor.