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Critics' Circle Music Section Hands Out Gongs to Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Iestyn Davies and More

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Sep 17, 2013 12:36 AM EDT | James Inverne

Critics' Circle Music Section Hands Out Gongs to Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Iestyn Davies and More

The Critics’ Circle is the oldest critics' organization in the world and, to date, counts more than 400 members who work in the media throughout the United Kingdom. (Photo : CriticsCircle.org.uk)

It's awards season in the U.K. This week sees the Gramophone Awards, of which more tomorrow, as well as the less-heralded, but still-prestigious (and quite new) Critics' Circle Music Section prizes. The Circle, as it's affectionately known to its members, started these awards to focus on the performance of live music in the United Kingdom.

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That is important, at a time when many organizations are pulling back on the amount of live performance they cover (the fact that most readers can't get to a concert in Manchester or Bournemouth often being mistaken for the notion that key concerts there aren't part of the country's musical fabric, that they aren't part of the ongoing cultural conversation--and something similar can be said for music coverage in other parts of Europe and the U.S.). These Circle awards are given by the folks who actually get on a train and get to the concert hall and the opera house. It is only to be hoped that their editors will permit them to go further than London on a more regular basis.

Yet, of course, any award-winner worth his salt is likely to be a regular performer in the capital. And so it proves this year, one of the artists having, in fact, made a dramatic last-minute substitution at the BBC Proms only days ago. The chap in question--and they are all four of them chaps this year, is the counter-tenor Iestyn Davies. The other young artists to be honored are the conductor Ryan Wigglesworth and the pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. Meanwhile, the special award for outstanding musician goes to the conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner--the giving of that prize timed to coincide with his opening night (tonight) of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

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