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Angela Hewitt to receive the City of Leipzig Bach Medal

'It has given me great happiness to take Bach to all corners of the globe,' says the Canadian pianist.

'It has given me great happiness to take Bach to all corners of the globe,' says the Canadian pianist

Angela Hewitt's Bach Odyssey sees her performing all the keyboard works of J.S. Bach in a series of 12 recitals between 2016 and 2020 in London, New York, Ottawa, Tokyo and Florence. (K. Saunders)

Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt will be the recipient of the 2020 City of Leipzig Bach Medal.

The news was announced on the Facebook page of BachFest Leipzig, the annual music festival at which the Bach Medal is presented to a musician who has significantly promoted the music of J.S. Bach.

Hewitt, the first woman to receive this honour since it was instituted in 2003, will be presented with the Bach Medal by Leipzig mayor Burkhard Jung at an award ceremony and concert on June 20, 2020, when she'll perform Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Hewitt is admired worldwide for her performances and recordings of the music of J.S. Bach. She's the first woman to record Bach's complete solo keyboard music, which she released between 1994 and 2014 on Hyperion Records. Since 2016 she has been touring the world on her Bach Odyssey.

"Never since the Canadian Glenn Gould has there been an artist who has placed Bach interpretations on the modern concert piano at the centre of their work as much as Gould's compatriot, Angela Hewitt," reads a statement by the jury, which comprised Ton Koopman and Peter Wollny (president and director, respectively, of the Bach Archive), Gotthold Schwarz (Thomaskantor), Andris Nelsons (music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra) and Martin Kürschner (rector of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre).

Hewitt reacted to the news as follows:

"I feel deeply honoured to be awarded the Bach Medal of the City of Leipzig. The news came as a complete surprise, and moved me tremendously. To receive such an award from the city which is synonymous with Johann Sebastian Bach, and to be added to such a distinguished list of former recipients, is more than I could ever have imagined. Leipzig has always had a special place in my heart since I first went there in 1976 as a competitor in the International Bach Competition; and Bach himself — well, I guess there's no other person with whom I have spent so much of my life, and yet every minute has been worth it! It has given me great happiness to take Bach to all corners of the globe, and to see the comfort and joy it brings people of all backgrounds. I would like to dedicate this award to my musician parents who both adored Bach and Leipzig — especially my organist father who made Bach so alive to me as a child."

Previous recipients of the Leipzig Bach Medal include John Eliot Gardiner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Masaaki Suzuki, Helmuth Rilling and Philippe Herreweghe. (View the full list here.)

Earlier this year, Hewitt released the penultimate album in her Beethoven sonata cycle, also for Hyperion Records. On Nov. 29, she'll release a new recording of Bach's Partitas.