ECHO Classical Music Awards: Joyce DiDonato, Jonas Kaufmann, Boston Symphony Among Winners

ECHO Klassik 2017
Franziska Krug/Getty Images

Winner and opera singer Joyce Didonato during the ECHO Klassik 2017 at Elbphilharmonie on Oct. 29, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. 

Hamburg's stunning Elbphilharmonie concert hall, inaugurated just seven months ago, was abuzz on Sunday night as it played host to the annual German ECHO Klassic Awards. Among the winners were stars such as the American singer Joyce DiDonato, the Italian piano player Maurizio Pollini and the South African violin player Daniel Hope. American Kent Nagano, who helmed the Philharmonische Staatsorchester Hamburg throughout the evening, got the ECHO as conductor of the year.

Classical music makes up four percent of the German music market and brought in revenue of $70 million in 2016. By comparison, Jazz has a market share of 2.1 percent in the country.

“Classical music forms an essential part of our heritage and represents one of the fundamental foundations of our culture”, notes Florian Drücke, the managing director of German music association BVMI. “Whether its brilliant solo artists, collaborating ensembles, global superstars or exciting young newcomers -- each of these musicians has helped to foster the extraordinary diversity of classical music and ensured that it continues to reach and inspire people of all ages and social backgrounds on all possible distribution channels.“

TV presenter Thomas Gottschalk announced that German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, whose Sony Classical album Dolce Vita topped the charts in terms of sales, was named Bestseller of the Year 2017. German singer Brigitte Fassbaender (EMI, Deutsche Grammophon) received the ECHO KLASSIK award for her lifetime achievement and got a standing ovation. The Echo for opera recording (20th/21st Century Opera) was presented to the Houston Symphony Orchestra under conductor Hans Graf. The London Symphony Orchestra was honored for the Concert Recording (19TH Century Music) with works of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky (Challenge Classics).

Meanwhile, in the Opera category, international singers such as  Luca Pisaroni ,Christiane Karg, Sonya Yoncheva, Thomas Hampson, Rolando Villazón, The Chamber Orchestra Of Europe and Yannick Nézet-Séguin got the trophy for "Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro“ (Deutsche Grammophon). In the category dubbed ”Classic without borders” the South African Violin player Daniel Hope received the award for his album For Seasons (Deutsche Grammophon). American Singer Joyce DiDonato was named female singer of the year  for  In War & Peace (Warner). South African singer Pretty Yende was named newcomer of the year for A Journey (Sony Classical). And in the Ensemble/Orchestra categora, the Boston Symphony Orchestra got the Echo for Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 5 / 8 / 9 (Deutsche Grammophon). 

For a full list of winners, click here.


Comments from the major label executives in attendance:

Clemens Trautmann, president of Deutsche Grammophon told Billboard: "We are looking for credible artists that suit us. Mostly contemporary music, that claims to be even relevant at the end of the day."

Frank Briegmann, President Central Europe Universal Music and Deutsche Grammophon: "We have a high artistic quality awareness and the courage to take new ways. We want to position the brand Deutsche Grammophon as innovation driver and at the same time meet the absolute claim of excellency."

Philip Ginthör, CEO Sony Music GSA: "Sony Classical received more awards than any other label. That shows the artistic quality and virtuoso range. It was a glamorous evening with impressive performances, in a perfect location."

Bernd Dopp Chairman & CEO Warner Music Central Europe: "The ECHO KLASSIK was a very dignified and glamorous event with a lot of musical highlights. Also the impressive and imposing scenery of the Elbphilharmonie made the event an unforgettable evening that all the artists and guests will keep in their memory. The appearance of Joyce DiDonato, combined with her important political message was an absolute highlight."