Rebecca Saunders awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Rebecca Saunders awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
Rebecca Saunders
© Astrid Ackermann

Berlin-based English composer Rebecca Saunders is awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of Biennale Musica 2024. Backing up her reputation as one of the most widely respected composers of our time, the decision was made by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia upon recommendation by Lucia Ronchetti, director of the Music Department.

The awards ceremony for the Golden Lion will be held on September 26 in Sala delle Colonne at Ca’ Giustinian during the 68th International Festival of Contemporary Music from September 26 to October 11.

Saunders, who was the first woman to receive the Ernst-von-Siemens award in 2019, is now awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement “for the refined sophistication of her research and her compositional intentions, for the attention she dedicates to the sonic microcosm, for her capacity to create a private listening area within the listener, an intimate inner acoustic space that evolves and amplifies the sonic imaginary. The composer conceives a specific temporality for each work which becomes an investigation into and experimentation with the experience of listening. Her elaboration of the sonic material is profoundly speculative and at the same time powerfully empirical and material, tied to the performance and the playing strategies”.

The composer explains her research as follows: “Surface, weight and feel are part of the reality of musical performance: the weight of the bow on the string; the differentiation of touch of the finger on the piano key; the expansion of the muscles between the shoulder blades drawing sound out of the accordion; the in-breath preceding the 'heard' tone. Being aware of the grit and noise of an instrument, or a voice, reminds us of the presence of a fallible physical body behind the sound. This physical presence of the musician and his acoustic instrument, and of sound itself, are important sources of inspiration.”

In the past, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music has been awarded to Pierre Boulez (2012), Tan Dun (2017), and Kaija Saariaho (2021) among other wonderful composers.

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