Entertainment & Arts

Halle Orchestra wins Gramophone award double

Sir Mark Elder
Image caption Sir Mark Elder has been the Halle's music director for 11 years

The Halle Orchestra has picked up two prizes at the 2011 Gramophone magazine awards, following a double win at the same ceremony last year.

The Manchester-based orchestra won the contemporary and choral prizes at the prestigious event in London.

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the musical director of the acclaimed Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, was named artist of the year.

Czech string quartet the Pavel Haas Quartet won recording of the year.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at London's Dorchester Hotel on Thursday.

The Halle, led by music director Sir Mark Elder, took the choral prize for their recording of Elgar's The Kingdom.

Gramophone reviewer Andrew Achenbach praised Sir Mark's "unerring grasp of the bigger scheme and scrupulous attention to dynamic and textual nuance [that] make for profoundly nourishing results".

Image caption Gustavo Dudamel rose through Venezuela's radical El Sistema music education system

The orchestra won the contemporary prize for Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Night's Black Bird, conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth.

Last year, the Halle picked up the concerto and opera prizes.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is the only other orchestra to have won four awards over two years, under Sir Simon Rattle's leadership in 1995 and 96.

Gustavo Dudamel, meanwhile, was praised for his "charismatic ability to inspire a life-long passion for music in young people, together with his passionate energy on the podium".

Dudamel is one of the most celebrated products and proponents of the Venezuelan El Sistema music education system, and is also music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

The Pavel Haas Quartet, founded in Prague in 2002, was judged by 47 Gramophone magazine critics to have made the best album of the year playing Dvorak Quartets Nos. 12 and 13. The quartet also won the chamber award.

Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner received a special achievement award for his Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, a project to perform all of JS Bach's surviving church cantatas on the relevant feast days.

Mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker received a lifetime achievement award, while recordings by conductor Antonio Pappano won the editor's choice and the DVD awards.

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