The REMA Awards 2024: winners revealed

Jack Pepper
Thursday, June 27, 2024

REMA, the European Early Music Network (Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne), exists to celebrate and preserve the music of past masters

Holland Baroque
Holland Baroque

As spring gives way to summer, one Early Music milestone follows another. The unveiling of the REMA Award winners this week is the latest chapter in a packed few months for Early Music. The 21st March saw a continent-wide celebration of Early Music Day, the first day of Meteorological Spring handily sharing a date with the birth of JS Bach; live concerts from Sardinia to Sweden were accompanied by a five-day virtual festival for REMA members.

REMA, the European Early Music Network (Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne), exists to celebrate and preserve the music of past masters; it is the only European-wide network for Early Music, bringing together 25 countries and 160 organisations. This week, they are back in the headlines.

Held every other year, the REMA Awards shine a light on the best projects and musicians to advance understanding of Early Music. If the renewal of interest in this repertoire represents one of classical music’s greatest success stories of the last fifty years, then this year’s REMA Award winners underline how the movement continues to go from strength to strength.

Ensemble Polyharmonique

Take the ‘Songs and Stories Project with Refugees and Migrants’ as an example. Winning ‘Audience Project of the Year’, this UK scheme saw animateur Sarah Atter collaborate with the Wolverhampton Refugee and Migrant Centre to build a piece of music that told the story of their journey to Britain; it was inspired by ‘Into the melting pot’, the story of a Jewish woman forced to leave Spain in 1492. This was just the latest in a series of imaginative offerings from arts charity The Telling, who are familiar to the Brighton, Liverpool and Kingston Early Music Festivals with their tours of accessible and affordable theatre productions. These include the spy story of John Dowland (I Spie, 2021), and a lockdown show exploring medieval nun, Hildegard of Bingen (Vision, 2020/21).

The Early Music movement is not just about ingenuity and finding the most vivid ways of presenting old music, but something more obviously serious, too: the preservation of heritage and shared roots, not wanting a culture to die out. Sample Open Opera Ukraine’s Ukrainian Baroque: Concordacii Animos project, winner of ‘Heritage Project of the Year’; acknowledging that a written musical history of Ukraine is thin on the ground, this project looks to fill the gaps with a comprehensive study of one of the most important yet obscure aspects of Ukraine’s musical past. Ukrainian polyphonic singing of the 17th century marked a turning point for the country’s music: single-lined monophony gave way to complex, multi-layered polyphony, and local traditions met Western ones to create a unique fusion. Open Opera Ukraine aimed to bring this important aspect of national heritage to public attention, through several years of collaboration between performers and journalists both in Ukraine and abroad. One of the high points has been a new recording showcasing many of the partes pieces penned by anonymous Ukrainian authors; one of the barriers to understanding such music has been that much can’t be traced back to a specific name. One key figure rises to the surface; Nikolay Diletsky was a 17th century composer and theorist who is believed to have written the first composing treatise in Russia and is among the first to mention the idea of a circle of fifths. A national story, then, but one with universal implications.

BMH - Bridging Musical Heritage

The same can be said for the Fondazione Pietà de’ Turchini’s innovative use of tech; their mobile app ‘Prendi Nota’ (‘Take Note’) wins the New Technology Prize for its travelling audio tour of Naples, describing its musical heritage in Italian and English. Whilst in Germany, the Ensemble Polyharmonique – celebrating its 10th anniversary this year – has been highlighting the first oratorio work by Heinrich Schütz, his 1623 retelling of the Resurrection Story; using singers, actors, vivid colours and English subtitles, their movie ‘Auferstehung - A Film Tale about Love, Faith and the Incomprehensible’, is available on YouTube and wins the award for ‘Music Clip of the Year’. As they put it: ‘welcome to the 21st century, dear Heinrich Schütz - and welcome to a new, magical experience of music, dear viewers!’

That is the key: old music heard in new ways. The REMA Awards highlight not just amazing pieces from centuries ago, but equally ingenious musicians working today to give them life. This isn’t music of a bygone era, but vital, vibrant and fully alive today.

Below is the full list of REMA Award winners:


> Festival theme of the year rewarding the impactful storytelling of a festival edition,and the carefully curated communication of its yearly thematic focus to the audience: REvival | Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht (NL)

> Audience project of the year for a project involving the audience/community in thecreation/production of a programme: Songs & Stories Project with Refugees and Migrants | The Telling (UK)

> Education project of the year for an educative programme that benefits future EM performers, or that improves of the representation of EM in general music training: Heritage, from vine to song | Centre de Musique Ancienne Sauternes (FR)

> Media piece of the year rewarding an article, radio show, podcast, video... dedicated to an Early Music-related topic: Early Music Stories - Podcast | Il giornale della musica (IT)

> Music clip of the year for an innovative short video by an ensemble or individual artist: Auferstehung - Resurrection | Ensemble Polyharmonique (DE)


> Heritage project of the year rewarding a concert, a recording, a research project that has had a significant breakthrough in safeguard/rediscovery: Ukrainian Baroque: Concordacii Animos | Open Opera Ukraine (UA)

> European cooperation project of the year for a project (album, concert, festival, research project, publication), led with the cooperation of organisations from more than 2 European countries: BMH - Bridging Musical Heritage | Artway (Co-funded by the European Commission)

> Extra European project of the year for a project involving an EM organisation from outside Europe, for a project applying the historical approach to performance to non- European music; or for a project highlighting an extra-European composer from the 15th-19th centuries: The Whispering Dome | Brighton Early Music Festival (UK)


> Best support programme for young artists (students, young professionals, individuals, ensembles) providing help short-term or long-term. It can be a training course, an online platform, an academy, etc: Samama Fellowship | Holland Baroque (NL)

> Business innovator of the year rewarding an organization that contributes in a significant way to the financial stability of the sector, by providing a new economic model, a best practice, proposal made to peers or funding organizations: European Union Baroque Orchestra & Theresia Orchestra | ICONS Innovation Strategies (IT)

> Transition advocate of the year rewarding an organization or individual contributing in a significant way to the promotion of the transition of the sector to sustainable practices (in performance, mobility, programming, etc.) or contribute to raise the awareness of the audience in a proactive way, through organic artistic proposals: Gheorghe Șova | Asociaţia Obştească «Alianţa între Generaţii» (MD)

> New technology prize rewarding a project using digital tools (AI, design, data...) for an innovative approach to performance, research, communication: Prendi Nota | Fondazione Pietà de’ Turchini

> Interdisciplinary project of the year rewarding a project that promotes Early Music outside of its usual scope, strikes a dialogue with other artistic fields, or encourages its visibility in the broader creative and cultural field. It can be a dialogue with other arts (theater, dance, visual arts, video...) or the creation of a new artistic item that connects Early Music to other non-cultural fields (history, science, etc): 100 Ballads | Queen’s University Belfast

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