© Florian Ganslmeier

Belmont Prize 2022
for Contemporary Music

Sarah Aristidou
Soprano from Berlin


Video recording of the award ceremony

Excerpt from Gabriele Forberg-Schneider's welcoming address at the awards ceremony

The pandemic is still very much us, and a vicious war of aggression is putting Europe's decades-long peace framework to an acid test. 'How can we be happy in life when so many are suffering? Faced with the welter of problems and crises in the world, why don't we just lie immobilised in bed, pull the covers over our heads and wait till things get better …?' Thus the questions that Nils Minkmar of the Süddeutsche Zeitung asks himself - and us. But the problems arising from global warming, the despoliation of nature and the end of our ingrained trust in growth from fossil-fuel consumption: all cry out for a philosophical realignment. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is intimately linked with a crisis in our vision of humanity, casting doubt on all our cherished, ideologically iron-clad mechanisms for coping with life.

Albert Camus, in his famous Nobel Prize acceptance speech, drew up a sort of artistic recipe for living: 'We have to forge for ourselves an art of living in times of catastrophe. Strength comes from living, not from virtue'.
So the watchword is: Do things, rather than just acknowledge them. Like Sisyphus, keep on rolling the stone up the mountainside …

A certain anarchistic attitude lies in the courage to innovate - an anarchy not only of our own actions, but also of genuine artistic talents. For art emerges from the urge to bring forth things never before heard, seen or thought. Its essence is profoundly anti-authoritarian.

Every gift - and our Belmont Prize, with its generous € 20,000 cash endowment, is such a gift - needs a donee, a recipient, an ideal beneficiary of our anarchistic appetites. A musician willing, as Arthur Rubinstein once put it, to 'shed five drops of blood'.

Statement from the Board of Trustees

Sarah Aristidou probes limits - and transcends them. She is predestined to do so by her phenomenal vocal prowess: her coloratura soprano, encompassing more than three octaves, is an exceptional instrument that bears witness to her French and Cypriot backgrounds in equal measure.

Her stratospheric altissimo range (it extends to high G) is matched by an equally impressive chest voice in the low register. Her singing artfully combines stylized bel canto, archaic expressive power, acrobatics and existentiality into a higher unified plane.

Every note she sings is meticulously thought out and manifests razor-sharp intelligence, expression and sensuality. Several leading composers of our age, such as Aribert Reimann and Jörg Widmann, have been inspired by her art.

Her own projects - including the CD Æther, which spans several centuries and diverse genres - demonstrate the effect that this young artist seeks to achieve: pinpoint listening and spiritual transformation.

Video recording of the award ceremony for Sarah Aristidou
November 10, 2022 in the Gartensaal of the Prinzregententheater, Munich

Governing Board: Sebastian Berger (welcoming address)

Board of trustees:
    Gabriele Forberg-Schneider (chairwoman)
    Anselm Cybinski (in conversation with the award winner)
    Florian Ganslmeier

In cooperation with the MKO

Camera: Sanna Hahn, MKO