Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Conducting Corp of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
The recipients of the first Hanno R. Ellenbogen Award are Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Conducting Corp of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Valek (the permanent conductor), Sir Charles Mackerras and Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi (the principle guest conductors).
Vladimir Ashkenazy devoted his first years as a musician to the piano. After winning first prizes in Brussels in 1956 and Moscow in 1962, he spent three decades touring the great musical centers of the world. From the 1970s, he became in creasingly active as a conductor and held positions with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. From 1998 to 2003 Ashkenazy led the Conducting Corps of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he undertook the major Prokofiev-Shostakovich series in 2003. He became the NHK Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director at the beginning of the 2004/05 season. He continues to perform as pianist throughout Europe,Asia and America, and in 2007 he accepted the position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Sydney Symphony commencing January 2009.
Vladimir Valek has performed in many major cities around the world like Brussels, Cairo, Copenhagen, London, New York, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, and Vienna to name a few. Sir Charles Mackerras (in memoriam), had a passion for music his entire life and was honered with many awards throughout his life. He became the first Australian conductor of the Sydney Synphony Orchestra after long lasting engagements with the English National Opera and the Welsh National Opera. Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi was the first Asian Conductor to conduct at the Prague Spring Music Festival in 2002.
The financial part of the award was donated to the gifted young pianist Lukáš Vondráček. Born in the Czech Republic in 1986 Lukas Vondracek’s musical ability was spotted at the age of two by his mother, herself a professional pianist. He gave his first concert at the age of 4 and now, at the age of 20, he has visited 22 different countries giving in excess of 850 concerts. Vladimir Ashkenazy was the conductor when Lukas made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2002 with concerts in Prague and Italy. Since then he has appeared frequently with the orchestra, including a major USA tour, and concerts in Cologne, Vienna, Lucerne, Bad Kissingen, and Birmingham's Symphony Hall.