Venice Music Biennale announces award of Golden Lion to composer Kaija Saariaho and Silver Lion to Neue Vocalsolisten

This year’s Venice Music Biennale is composer Lucia Ronchetti’s first as Artistic Director and as part of
the activities planned for the Biennale, Ronchetti has chosen composer Kaija Saariaho to be awarded
its Golden Lion (Leone d’oro) and the Silver Lion (Leone d’argento) to vocal group Neue Vocalsolisten.
Ronchetti has programmed this year’s Music Biennale, Choruses, to focus on the human voice and
how composers throughout time have responded to it. One of the key reasons Ronchetti chose
Saariaho to receive the Golden Lion was for the originality of her vocal compositions, as well as for her
extraordinary technical and expressive levels achieved in her choral scores.

Saariaho will receive her Golden Lion award at on 17 September in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’
Giustinian. The award ceremony will be immediately followed by a public discussion with Saariaho and

Ronchetti commented:

“I am honoured to award the Leone d’oro per la musica to Kaija Saariaho, a leading figure in
contemporary musical creativity. An original artist with an unmistakable style, whose sound textures
synthesise Debussy’s timbrical ideation with refined explorations of sound material, creating a
personal musical language that engages and enlightens her global public.”

Lucia Ronchetti (c) Vanessa Francia

The inaugural concert of the Music Biennale will be held at the Teatro la Fenice on 17 September and
will feature the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice conducted by Ernest Martinez-Isquierdo.
The programme will include the first Italian performance of Saarihao’s ‘Oltra Mar’ for choir and
orchestra from1999 and the first Italian performance of an orchestral work by Hans Abrahamsen
composed in 2011 based on the orchestration of Claude Debussy’s ‘Children’s Corners’.

The vocal ensemble Neue Vocalsolisten of Stuttgart will receive the Silver Lion for their creative
collaborations with many of the greatest contemporary composers and in particular for their work in
developing the a cappella vocal repertoire in the field of contemporary writing.

The Silver Lion award ceremony will take place on 20 September in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’
Giustinian. The award ceremony will be followed by a public discussion with members of Neue
Vocalsolisten and Ronchetti.

On Sunday 19th September in the Tesa III of the Arsenale, the Neue Vocalsolisten will present two
world premieres: a work for voices and electronics by the American composer George Lewis,
commissioned by the Biennale Musica, and ‘Die Einfachen’, a work of vocal theatre for six solo voices
by the Russian composer Sergej Newski.

Ronchetti is a composer whose recent successes include her new chamber opera Pinocchios Abenteuer at
the Berlin Staatsoper which is available to view at:
and her Opera-Film Rivale from the FIFA Festival in Montreal which can be viewed at

ABOVE: Kaija Saariaho (c) Priska Ketterer