Isaac Stern

During a press conference at the Shanghai Symphony Hall, the organizers of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition (SISIVC) today announced the two recipients of the Isaac Stern Human Spirit Award: Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor and the Xiaoshuijing Miao Farmers Choir. Remy Franck attended the press conference.

Through his many musical collaborations Kayhan Kalhor has been popularizing Persian music in the West. He has studied the music of Iran’s various regions, in particular those of Khorason and Kordestan, and has toured the world as a soloist with ensembles and orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon. Kayhan is a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and his compositions appear on several of the Ensemble’s albums.

Kayhan Kalhor
(c) Vahid Ahmadi

In a live phone call from New York, where he is currently living, Kayhan Kalhor said that the Stern Award is a great recognition of his work and will help his touring and education projects. About his collaborations with other musicians, Kalhor said – und thus underlined how much he deserves the Isaac Stern Human Spirit Award -, that he never imposes himself, but takes every time a new approach in harmony with the culture he is dealing with. « So, my thinking and music-making changes all the time, and I continuously have to learn », the musician said.

The second recipient of the Stern Award is the Xiaoshuijing Miao Farmers Choir. This choir comes from

Xiaoshuijing, the largest Miao village in the Yunnan region (South-West China). The village has a large Christian community and a meanwhile nation-wide acclaimed church choir. It is a four-part chorus group.

Representatives of the Farmers Choir at the press conference in Shanghai
(c) Remy Franck

None of the choir members have received any professional training, and their singing methods and techniques have been passed from generation to generation. Their performances are imbued with not only western elements, but also with unique original ethnic characteristics. They work in the fields in the daytime, and three or four times a week they come together in the evening for singing sessions. For their performances, they take no fee, and the 10.000 Dollars from the Award will be invested in the development of their structure and in new scores, even though the choir has already a repertoire of over 300 songs. They sing English songs phonetically, not knowing the text.
The Isaac Stern Award was created to award an individual or group – in any field and from any part of the world – who is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of humanity through the medium of music. These prizes are awarded to the laureate selected by the president of the competition’s organization committee Long Yu, Yo-Yo Ma by special invitation, and members of the Stern family.

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