Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pianist surprised with a prize

I love it when I discover an imaginative way to help others or to promote something you love. One Irving S. Gilmore, an heir to the Upjohn fortune and whose family owned a department store in Kalamazoo, MI, and was a pretty serious pianist, established a foundation whose main activity is putting on a music festival in Kalamazoo. But it also gives out the Gilmore Award every four years to "a superb pianist and a profound musician -- a $300,000 windfall.

The kicker is that the recipient is chosen in secret and surprised by the award. Membersof the evaluation committee attend concerts and recitals as anonymously as possible and listen to recordings, then make their choice. Nobody knows he or she is under consideration. This year's winner is Kirill Gerstein, an American of Russian origin who won the Artur Rubenstein contest in 2001, concertizes widely and teaches at the conservatory in Stuttgart.

What enchants me is the secrecy of the prize. What a cool thing to do!

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