Awardees 2024

The hosts as prize winners: the Luxembourg Philharmonic

With around 100 musicians from over 25 nations, the Luxembourg Philharmonic lives the European idea particularly intensively and every day. “For me, this is where the musical heart of Europe beats,” said well-known star chef and laudator Léa Linster, like the orchestra itself, an institution known far beyond the borders of Luxembourg. “We Luxembourgers are very proud of our country, but we are also enthusiastic Europeans!” In the city where the first European Parliament met, not only is the diversity of the people strikingly large, but also the musical diversity of the orchestral repertoire, which is now was honored with the European Culture Prize. The two orchestra members Fabienne Welter and Filippo Biuso accepted it on behalf of the entire ensemble.

Equality par excellence: The Vienna Boys' Choir and Vienna Choir Girls together on stage

“Only a tradition that questions itself critically and develops further remains alive.” Strong words from Erich Arthold, President of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, who received the European Young Talent Award together with the Vienna Choir Girls in the Luxembourg Philharmonic. The 525-year-old Vienna Boys' Choir has long lived by the principle of equal rights: they not only take in refugees from Syria, Afghanistan or the Congo, but have also been committed to the goal of providing girls with an adequate musical education for 20 years. For the first time, boys and girls were allowed to go on a concert tour together and enchanted their Luxembourg audience in the most beautiful way. Presenter and fashion icon Barbara Meier was enthusiastic: “As a Viennese by choice and mother of two girls, it makes me particularly proud that the Viennese choir girls are now on stage on an equal footing with the boys’ choir.”

Two strong women unite two worlds

It was a meeting of giants: Star violinist Lisa Batiashvili has not only been a particularly bright star in the violin sky for over two decades and is in demand by the best orchestras around the world. She is also committed to promoting young people in the music scene and founded her own foundation in 2021 to support highly talented young people from her home country. Reason enough for Tali Golergant to present her colleague with the European Culture Prize for the Promotion of Young Talents, because TALI, who represented her adopted home of Luxembourg at the ESC in May, is only just at the beginning of a promising career herself. Both strong women performed for the first time with the also award-winning Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra.

An all-rounder with an infectious good mood

Laudator Frauke Ludowig came out on the big stage of the Luxembourg Philharmonic as an absolute fan of a great tenor: “We should actually award Rolando Villazón several cultural awards for his many talents, because he is not only a singer, but also an author, director, artistic director and music educator – but above all, we have to recognize him as a person.” The 52-year-old Mexican with the infectious good mood not only works as a clown in children's hospitals, but also constantly promotes new talents. Villazón has the sun in his heart and the audience's sympathy is always on his side, including in Luxembourg, where he received the European Culture Prize for cultural promotion. On the big stage, he also advocated for understanding without borders: “Today, shortly before the election, we should celebrate a Europe in which everyone can feel welcome. I am a citizen of the world and a European at heart.”

From an acclaimed boy band heartthrob to an absolute solo superstar

It was an absolute and much-awaited highlight of the evening: Ronan Keating, once a boy band heartthrob, now an acclaimed solo singer, performed together with the Luxembourg Philharmonic for the first time and impressed with his world hits “When You Say Nothing At All” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes”. “. Keating received the European Culture Prize from his German colleague Jeanette Biedermann, who has appeared on stage with him several times. In her laudatory speech, she not only emphasized “that you always manage to look beneath the surface of our glittering world and take an interest in people,” but above all acknowledged Keating's strong commitment to cancer prevention in his family foundation. The honoree thanked him warmly: “Culture means understanding how different we are.”

A champion of European integration

“Anyone who believes in Europe, anyone who wants Europe, has a direct connection to culture, because they like beautiful things, and Europe is a beautiful thing. And he hates rejection and xenophobia.” Strong words from a great European: As a former EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker knows only too well what European integration means and, above all, how important it is to keep getting people excited about Europe . In his home country of Luxembourg, where he served as minister and prime minister for many years, Juncker has now been awarded the European Cultural Prize for Politics for his great commitment and passion for Europe - laudated by the journalist Viviane Reding, who was a member of the European Parliament until 2018 and four She was Vice President of the EU Commission for years.

Outstanding instruments for outstanding talents

Yes, fortunately they still exist, the philanthropists: The European Initiative Prize was awarded in the Luxembourg Philharmonic by Spiegel journalist Nikolaus Blome to the Stretton Society around Maximilian von Schierstädt. It is committed to supporting exceptional musicians and has made it its mission to give exceptional young artists access to rare and valuable string instruments. In addition, the Stretton Society supports outstandingly talented musicians with scholarships and provides start-up help for young careers. One such young talent is Benjamin Kruithof, just 25 years old, who played an 18th-century cello by Guadagnini in the company of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, which was sponsored by the Society.

Connecting cultures: the Egyptian soprano Fatma Said

She has a strong voice in the world, and not just as a soprano who has performed with the very best orchestras in the world. Fatma Said is also a border crosser and bridge builder between cultures. Whether it's a classical aria, an Arabic folk song as sung in Luxembourg or pop songs by Whitney Houston - Fatma Said applies the same high artistic standards everywhere. “It was a big and daring step that she left her home country to study in Germany 15 years ago, before the start of the Arab Spring,” said her fellow singer Adel Tawil, who also came from Egypt, in his laudatory speech. Fatma Said was correspondingly grateful in her response, especially to her family, who always believed in her and always supported her on her journey. The young soprano also likes to pass on her experiences and, for example, represented her home country twice at the United Nations to highlight the right to education and dignity for children through music. Just a very strong woman.

A highly emotional moment: Daughter Enya gives a eulogy for her father Frank Elstner

That was a particularly touching moment of the evening: “I wouldn't have believed that my youngest daughter would say something about me on stage here,” said Frank Elstner after Enya honored the life's work of the television legend who grew up in Luxembourg with a European Culture Prize had. Visibly touched, Frank Elstner accepted the award from his daughter, who, on behalf of her four siblings, not only revealed that she was “incredibly proud” of him, but also thanked the “present father” for always being at least the same as the family was as important as his career. At the same time, Enya also brought up her father's many professional careers, who made his mark in the collective memory of the audience with countless programs and the invention of the television format “Wetten,dass”. The “convinced European” immediately took advantage of the beautiful occasion – “a celebration for Europe” in the Luxembourg Philharmonic Hall – to call on the entire hall to go vote.

A real bridge builder: conductor Alondra de la Parra

Alondra de la Parra sees herself as a bridge builder. Because “she founded a Mexican-American orchestra where the election campaign is currently taking place on the border with Mexico,” said the eulogy for the extremely successful conductor, in whose hands the entire musical direction of the evening with the Luxembourg Philharmonic lay . Music, said Christoph Dittrich, general director of the Chemnitz Opera and thus host of the next European Cultural Awards ceremony in the Capital of Culture in 2025, can be much more “than just beautiful”. He praised Alondra de la Parra not only “as a conductor and person,” but also for her great commitment in her home country of Mexico, where she is dedicated to teaching music to disadvantaged children.

Her Royal Highness: Maria Teresa of Luxembourg

Nobility obliges – that can also be said, especially in Luxembourg. For 27 years, Her Royal Highness Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, who walked into the hall alongside Grand Duke Henri, to whom she had been married since 1981, has been a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and is self-sacrificingly committed to development cooperation. For this, the Cuban exile has now been honored in her adopted homeland with the European Cultural Prize for Social Commitment by the French writer Claude Frisoni. Visibly touched, the Grand Duchess dedicated her award to “all those who remain unheard, who are silent and invisible, including the millions of Afghan women and girls.” With her tireless efforts, the Grand Duchess gives hope to children in need and fights for equal rights and education for women worldwide.