The annual celebrations of the arts across the UK took place yesterday evening (9 July) at the Savoy Hotel in London, hosted by writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are made in categories across the arts – from film to the visual arts, from literature to dance. The event was attended by leading creative and performing artists, producers and directors.
The winner in the ‘Classical Music’ category was the Philharmonia Orchestra for its 2016 Series ‘Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals’, under the artistic direction of conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. The Series Consultant was Professor Jonathan Cross.
Jonathan was involved with the project from the very start, advising on repertoire and shaping programmes. At the core of the project was a series of performances of Stravinsky’s works by the Philharmonia Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall, plus spin-off performances in Aix-en-Provence and San Francisco. Jonathan also edited and wrote much of the series programme book, and he helped produce and present films and digital materials for the series website. The 35-minute documentary film, Stravinsky’s Journeys, in which he talks about Stravinsky’s Paris years, has already been seen by many tens of thousands of viewers via YouTube and other platforms. Similarly, the interactive Stravinsky timeline has had tens of thousands of online hits.
During the presentation of the series itself Jonathan gave talks to the audience before concerts, took part in broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, and led study days at the South Bank. Along with the digital material, this allowed him to reach a new, large audience with his research on Stravinsky, which includes an acclaimed new biography. He explained: ‘I wanted people not just to hear Stravinsky’s music in the abstract, but to think of the composer whose life was affected by two world wars, revolution, emigration and tragedy, how those contexts left their mark on his music, and how his music in turn left its mark on the 20th century.’
The series received a number of 5-star reviews in the national press. The Guardian described it as ‘imaginative programming’.
The South Bank Sky Arts Awards ceremony will be broadcast on Sky TV this coming Wednesday evening (12 July).