In memory of its chief conductor of many years Claudio Abbado, who died in 2014, and his sustained commitment to supporting young musicians, the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation awards the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize at irregular intervals in support of its Herbert von Karajan Academy. In 2016, the award went to Vito Žuraj, born in Maribor, Slovenia in 1979. He received his training as a composer at the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana and the University of Music Carl Maria von Weber Dresden; Further studies include at the University of Music Karlsruhe, where he attended Wolfgang Rihm’s composition class and also graduated in music and technology.
Žuraj, who has received support from the International Ensemble Modern Academy, Deutsche Bank’s “Academy Opera Today” Foundation, and the Deutsche Akademie Rom Villa Massimo, has already seen his works performed by internationally renowned orchestras and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble Modern and the RIAS Kammerchor; his first opera was premiered by Theater Bielefeld in 2013. In addition to Žuraj’s composition for the Herbert von Karajan Academy, the soprano Mojca Erdmann and the pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, the 2017/2018 season also sees premieres of works commissioned by the Konzerthaus in Vienna and the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik.
In this award winner concert in the chamber music hall of the Berlin Philharmonie, the premiere of Alavò for soprano, piano and instrumental groups, conducted by the Philharmoniker’s violinist Stanley Dodds, is preceded by performances of two works by Žuraj’s teacher, Wolfgang Rihm; plus, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and members of the Herbert von Karajan Academy perform Robert Schumann’s 1842 grand Piano Quintet in E major, op. 44.