Conductor James Conlon has been honored with a 2011 ECHO Klassik Award, one of the most established and well known music awards in the world, in the category “Music DVD Recording of the Year (Documentation)” for his performance in the film A Surprise in Texas: The Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The prize will be awarded to Mr. Conlon, as well as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, during a ceremony to be held October 2, 2011 at the Konzerthaus Berlin.
The documentary follows James Conlon and the competitors of the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition during the rigorous three-week competition, offering an intricate view into the inner workings of the world's most prestigious piano competition, including intense rehearsals, preconcert rituals, and finally the receipt of the gold prize. The documentary features pianists Haochen Zhang of China , 19 – the youngest competitor – as well as blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, 20, of Japan and Yeol Eum Son, 23, of South Korea .
Mr. Conlon last received an ECHO Klassik Award in 2002 in the category “Editorial Achievement of the Year” for his nine recording series of Alexander Zemlinsky’s operas and orchestral works with the Gürzenich Orchestra-Cologne Philharmonic for EMI.
The ECHO Klassik Awards are presented yearly by the German Phono Akademie, the cultural institute of the German music industry association, and honor the outstanding performances of international artists. The recipients of the ECHO Klassik are selected by a jury of individuals in politics, the arts and media, as well as the classical division of the German music industry association. The jury selects the recipients of the Award based on the artistic quality and popular success of the performance, reflecting not only the opinion of critics but also that of music consumers.
Mr. Conlon is currently conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in ten concerts at the 2011 Ravinia Festival where he is Music Director, including the final performance in his Mahler cycle, the continuation of his Breaking the Silence series, and an opera-in-concert performance of Puccini’s Tosca starring Patricia Racette, Bryn Terfel and Salvatore Licitra. He was most recently seen conducting at the Spoleto Festival in Naples ; the final concert of which was attended by the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano. His visit marked the first time a president of the republic has been to the Festival in 18 years, and the concert held a special significance for the unification of Italy . Mr. Conlon also recently returned to Rome Opera to conduct Puccini’s La Bohème, a performance that was critically praised by Paolo Isotta in the Corrieri della Sera.