La Biennale di Venezia

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The 2018 Lion awards for Music

The acknowledgments to Keith Jarrett and to Sebastian Rivas. Award Ceremonies on 29 September and 6 October during the 62nd Festival.

Pianist and composer Keith Jarrett is the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music 2018; the Silver Lion goes to Franco-Argentinian Sebastian Rivas, one of the most original authors of his generation. The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, embracing the recommendation of the Director of the Music Department Ivan Fedele.

Keith Jarrett

An absolute musician, beloved by the public – with over four million recordings of the Köln Concert, considered his seminal work, sold around the world – Keith Jarrett will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 62nd International Festival of Contemporary Music of the Biennale di Venezia on September 29th. For this occasion, Keith Jarrett will perform one of his legendary improvisations on the piano, unique and unrepeatable events that have punctuated his career and contributed to redefining composition for the piano.

“Unanimously acclaimed as one of the most important pianists in the area of improvisation and jazz music – reads the motivation – Keith Jarrett is an artist who has experimented with extraordinary talent and creativity in various musical genres including classical music, composing scores that are both refined and blistering at the same time. His endless discography bears witness to a boundless art and a unique personality in the field of jazz, with an approach and signature style that are so personal as to make him a universal master in the history of music”.

Sebastian Rivas

Sebastian Rivas will be awarded the Silver Lion at the 62nd International Festival of Contemporary Music on October 6th: that same evening, there will be a performance of Aliados, “a real-time opera”, as the sub-title reads, focused on the historic figures of Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet.

“Born in Argentina but French by choice, in his music Sebastian Rivas merges the Hispanic-American ‘duende’ with the systematic approach of the contemporary western world, expressing the vocation of thought to perpetually regenerate the warp and weft of disquietude. His overwhelming musical talent combined with the most enlightened issues of social commitment make him one of the most interesting and innovative protagonists of young music in our time” (from the motivation).

The Festival and the previous Lions

The 62nd International Festival of Contemporary Music of the Biennale di Venezia will be held from September 28th to October 7th 2018.

In the past, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music has been awarded to Goffredo Petrassi (1994), Luciano Berio (1995), Friedrich Cerha (2006), Giacomo Manzoni (2007), Helmut Lachenmann (2008), György Kurtág (2009), Wolfgang Rihm (2010), Peter Eötvös (2011), Pierre Boulez (2012), Sofija Gubajdulina (2013), Steve Reich (2014), Georges Aperghis (2015), Salvatore Sciarrino (2016), and Tan Dun (2017).

The Silver Lion, dedicated to promising young artists in music, or to institutions that have distinguished themselves for cultivating new talents, has been awarded in the past to Vittorio Montalti and Francesca Verunelli (2010), RepertorioZero (2011), Quartetto Prometeo (2012), Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte (2013), Ryo Murakami (2016), and Dai Fujikura (2017).

Biographical notes

KEITH JARRETT (1945, Allentown - USA) began playing the piano at age 3 and classical studies at age 7, then undertook formal composition studies at age 15. In the early 60s, he began playing jazz.
Jarrett toured first in 1965-66 with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, then from 1966–68 with the Charles Lloyd Quartet. He soon led his own trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, which in 1972 expanded to a quartet with the addition of tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman. From 1970–71 Jarrett also became a featured member in Miles Davis’ electric fusion group, playing electric piano and organ, his last stint as a sideman. Thereafter, Jarrett dedicated himself exclusively to performing acoustic music as a solo artist and as a leader.
In 1971, he began an exclusive recording collaboration with ECM Records, the visionary German label headed by producer Manfred Eicher. This collaboration has produced a catalogue of nearly 80 recordings, including 16 groundbreaking improvised solo concert piano recordings.
In the late 1970s, Jarrett was invited to Oslo by Manfred Eicher to record with the three of Scandinavia’s top jazz artists; saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen. This quartet came to be known as Belonging, eventually recording five best selling albums for ECM from 1976-79. In 1983, Jarrett invited bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack Dejohnette to join him for a New York studio recording session of “standards’ - the rich body of American Broadway show and jazz tunes from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. The trio disbanded in December 2014 after touring the world for over 30 years performing hundreds of concerts and releasing 20 award winning ECM concert and studio recordings. In March 2018, ECM will release After The Fall, an archival 2 CD live concert recording capturing the trio at their peak performing in November 1998 at NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) in Newark.
In 2007, the legendary bassist Charlie Haden joined Jarrett at his home recording studio in rural New Jersey for 4 days - their first musical collaboration in over 30 years, From these 2007 sessions came the two highly acclaimed ECM duo recordings:  Jasmine (released in 2010) and Last Dance (released in Spring 2014, just two months before Haden passed away).
ECM has released several classical recordings with Jarrett performing piano repertoire by Bach, Barber, Bartók, Händel, Mozart, Arvo Pärt and Shostakovich, as well as Bridge of Light featuring his own classical orchestral and chamber music compositions. He has also recorded concerto works by Alan Hohvaness, Peggy Glanville Hicks and Lou Harrison - all conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Keith Jarrett has garnered many awards worldwide including the Polar Music Prize (Stockholm, 2003) presented by the King of Sweden; Leonie Sonning Music Prize (Copenhagen, 2004); Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Paris, 2007) from the French Ministry of Culture; and the National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master Award for lifetime achievement ( New York, 2014).


SEBASTIAN RIVAS (1975, Châtenay-Malabry – France), a Franco-Argentinian composer and sound artist, began his musical studies by learning the saxophone, first oriented by rock, jazz and improvised music. Studied Composition at the Faculty of Music of the Universidad Catolica de Buenos Aires with Gerardo Gandini among others, and in Paris: First Prize in Music Analysis at the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatory, Composition Diploma with Sergio Ortega. Graduated with honors in 2003 from the Composition Department of the Strasbourg Conservatory. Participation in workshops (Royaumont, Acanthes, Ictus Seminar, Darmstadt) thanks to grants, working with Klaus Huber, Jonathan Harvey, Philippe Manoury, Toshio Hosokawa, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Jarrell, François Paris.
In 2003, 2004 and 2008: Laureate of the IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain International reading panel, for Tremplin and for the one-year composition and computer music programs. Laureate of the International Society for Contemporary Music ISCM in 2004. Winner of the prestigious Prix Italia 2012 for the radio opera La Nuit Hallucinée, produced by Radio France. Fellow Composer of the French Academy in Rome-Villa Medici from 2013 to 2015.
Work for orchestra recommended by The 63 International Rostrum of Composers 2016/ UNESCO.
Collaborations with disciplines such as Dance, Video,  and Theatre. Teaching composition and electroacoustic music since 2004.

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