England's David Owen Norris has been named the winner of the first-ever $250,000 Irving S. Gilmore prize.
The 37-year-old pianist was chosen, as part of a secret, "non-competitive" competition process, from 35 pianists nominated worldwide, to whose concerts jurors traveled without the candidates knowing. Norris was notified earlier this month of his selection as the 1991 Gilmore Artist.The award, to be made every two years, carries with it two years of concert engagements in this country and abroad, beginning with the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, to be held April 27-May 5 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Other pianists who will perform that week include Van Cliburn, Leon Fleisher, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Feltsman, Alicia de Larrocha, Malcolm Bilson, George Shearing, Peter Nero, Ramsey Lewis, Chick Corea and Steve Allen.
Gilmore was the son-in-law of William Upjohn of the pharmaceutical firm and a piano enthusiast who played duets with George Gershwin. At his death four years ago, he bequeathed $130 million to establish a piano foundation in his name.
Born in 1953 in Northhampton, Norris is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Organists. He has been a Covent Garden repetiteur, served as assistant music director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and made more than 200 piano broadcasts for the BBC. Specializing in unusual repetoire, he performs, among other things, music of Bax, Tippett, Ives and Australia's Nigel Butterley, Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's "Winterreise" and the Karg-Elert transcription of the Elgar First Symphony.
- PIANIST YEFIM BRONFMAN has been named winner of this year's Avery Fisher Prize, receiving a cash award of $25,000. His name will be inscribed on the marble plaque in New York's Avery Fisher Hall along with previous winners Lynn Harrell, Murray Perahia, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Richard Goode, Horacio Gutierrez, Elmar Oliveira, Richard Stoltzman and Andre Watts.
Born in the Soviet Union in 1958, Bronfman immigrated with his family to Israel in 1973, arriving in this country three years later. An American citizen, he has appeared with most of this country's major orchestras (including two engagements with the Utah Symphony) and records for Sony Classical.
Fisher, 85, makes the prize money available each year on his birthday, to an American instrumentalist of outstanding achievement and excellence. However, only 10 prizes have been awarded since Fisher established the award in 1974.
In 1969 Fisher, whose fortune comes from the Fisher audio line, gave $10.5 million to New York's Lincoln Center, 80 percent directed toward reconstruction and maintenance of the acoustically inferior Philharmonic Hall, since renamed in his honor. The rest went toward the artist program.
- JOSE CARRERAS last month sang Samson in "Samson et Dalilah" at Covent Garden in London, making his first major opera house appearance since his bout with leukemia. He said he plans to restrict his opera stints to a handful of European appearances. A foundation that he established for leukemia research has already raised $10 million.
- PETER SELLARS has been named "creative consultant" to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The iconoclastic and avant-garde wunderkind will help the orchestra devise special events, festivals and community oriented projects.
Esa-Pekka Salonen, director-designate of the orchestra, says that the symphony orchestra has come to a point where it needs to "create an ideology for the next millennium," which will bring audiences into the concert hall.
- THE ARTS HAVE LOST: Basso Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, 70, from cancer, in Bloomington, Ind., where he was teaching. A noted "Boris Godunov," he sang almost 90 operatic roles in international houses, including the Metropolitan Opera. He was a Renaissance man, who wrote poetry, painted in Impressionist style, and directed opera. He is survived by his wife, soprano Virginia Zeani . . . Richard Englund, 59, director of the training company for the Joffrey Ballet, in Manhattan, died of leukemia. He danced with American Ballet Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and National Ballet of Canada, headed American Ballet Theatre II . . . Esther Fisher, pianist, died in London at 90 . . . Elie Siegmeister, 82, composer and author, died in Long Island of a brain tumor. He was noted for his espousal of American music styles, and for his operas, the most famous being "The Plow and the Stars" (1963) . . . Serge Gainsbourg, singer, songwriter and provocateur, at 62, in Paris, died of natural causes. "For more than three decades he used words, music and public antics to shock, scandalize or please his audience." President Francois Mitterrand took note of his passing.