The European Early Music Network (REMA – Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne) has created an European award for Early Music. In this, its inaugural year, the Award will go to the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the music academy and research institution located in Basel, Switzerland. A special REMA Early Music Artist Award will be given to The Hilliard Ensemble, who disbanded at the end of 2014.
The Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday 22 August 2015 in Antwerp as part of this year’s Laus Polyphoniae (Flanders Early Music Festival).
REMA, which boasts a membership of around 60 Early Music organisations from 21 countries, has established the award in order to recognise ensembles and institutions who have made an outstanding contribution to the study and popularisation of Early Music
Xavier Vandamme, REMA’s President, said,
An open spirit and a receptiveness to new and vital energies are the conditions on which the future of Early Music rests. We need to be both curious and adventurous, all the while maintaining the critical stance for which we have become known.
The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis is a unique centre for both professional training in the field of Early Music and research into historical music practice. It is also responsible for organising a variety of public concerts, and is renowned for nurturing and supporting new young ensembles. Staff and students alike are drawn from countries all over the world, guaranteeing a lively, stimulating, multinational and multilingual atmosphere in which to learn, making it a key driving force in the world of Early Music today.
The Director, Pedro Memelsdorff, said,
It’s a big honour and a joy for Schola to receive this award from REMA. Restoring music of the past to pass it to future generations and to get from them the novelty of their invention, their imagination, has always been our goal.
Lutenist Hopkinson Smith added,
And if the prize is given to the school, it’s actually given to something much bigger than the school, which is the spirit behind it. And the amount of knowledge, the amount of experience, the importance of poetry, the depth of understanding of cultural contributions, which are a daily part of the nourishment of the spirit of the people involved here.
The British male vocal quartet, The Hilliard Ensemble, has played a major role in rediscovering and popularising Early Music. Although much of its work was focused on the Medieval and Renaissance periods, it also performed contemporary music, collaborating frequently with the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The Ensemble was founded in 1973 but after 41 years it disbanded with their final concert on 20 December 2014 at London’s Wigmore Hall. The four singers issued a statement on hearing of the award:
As the Hilliard Ensemble, it is a great honour for us because we have been singing together for a very long time: the group has lasted for about 40 years, and during that time we have seen the Early Music bubble grow and grow and grow.
REMA was created in Ambronay, France, in 2000. Its head office is still based in France, though its membership, growing at a rate of 10 new members each year, is truly international. The network’s
strength comes from the number, diversity and quality of its member organisations. It also organises meetings and events with other European cultural platforms, enabling its members to widen their network of contacts, as well as to discuss current topics of interest. REMA launched a web-based radio station, Remaradio.eu, in January 2015, and has organised the European Day of Early Music on 21 March each year since 2013.
REMA is supported by the European Commission through the Creative Europe programme and by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.