Michala Petri

Léonie Sonning prize 2000

The Danish recorder player Michala Petri received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of 400,000 Danish kroner at a concert on Saturday 17 June 2000 at the Tivoli Concert Hall. The concert was broadcast live on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s P2 radio channel. On 3 June, in the build-up to the prize concert, the corporation aired a documentary portrait of Petri on television. 

The prize was presented by Tivoli’s Head of Music Lars Grunth, a member of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s board. His personal speech included the following comments:

‘Michala is Denmark’s leading soloist worldwide and is constantly developing musically. She wants everything in its place while also constantly seeking the new. She is an aspirational musician and an excellent, restless soloist.’


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2000, and 400,000 Danish kroner, is awarded to Michala Petri in recognition of her distinguished musical mind and superior musical technique. She has preserved and developed her instrument’s traditional repertoire and is an excellent interpreter of contemporary music. Always in search of new challenges, Petri has instigated countless premieres and challenged her own musicianship in new configurations. With her unique playing, she has secured the recorder’s place as a contemporary solo instrument while also managing to reach a wide audience. Petri is a world-class soloist and chamber musician whose musicality is always developing.’

In her speech of thanks, Michala Petri made the following comments:

‘I would like to thank the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, which it is a great pleasure to receive. I know that I am the third Dane to receive the award, but even though I have never thought of myself as a Dane in a musical context, it is still special for me to receive the award here in Denmark, because it is here that I feel most at home, and where I most understand myself personally. When I was told I was going to receive the award, I was informed that it was for my work. I stand at a time in my life at which I feel I can express what I have always wanted, and so I want to turn it around and say: I’m happy with the prize, and I think it’s a really good start.’

The programme

Piers Hellawell Drum of the Nådj, concerto for recorder, percussion and orchestra

Per Nørgård Tusmørke-Dialog, for recorder solo (premiere)

Steven Stucky Etudes, for recorder and strings (premiere)

Telemann Suite in A minor TWV 55:a2, for alto recorder and strings

Händel Sonata in B flat HWV 288

Telemann Viola Concerto in G major TWV 51:G9 (soloist: Wolfram Christ)

Vivaldi Concerto in G major RV 312

Handel The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (encore)

Vivaldi Concerto in C major RV 443, second movement (encore)


Michala Petri, recorder

Tivoli Symphony Orchestra (Copenhagen Phil), (Hellawell and Stucky)

Giordano Bellincampi, conductor

Rainer Kussmaul, violin

Wolfram Christ, viola

Berliner Baroque Soloists (Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi)

The daily press

Michala Petri received the Sonning Music Prize on Saturday night at the Tivoli Concert Hall. The artist expressed thanks and played brand new and early music. It is neither possible nor desirable to debate the choice of Petri as the winner of this prestigious prize: she is a musician through and through, the likes of which few are born in a century. The concept of “good enough” is alien to her. On the contrary: “constantly on the move” is more apt an expression of her creativity. Petri is Denmark’s great international soloists with star status throughout the classical music world, who at the same time has kept hear head and her common sense. As well she might. Her whole appearance and attentive listening should give food for thought to self-obsessed, self-aggrandizing cultural bureaucrats who squeeze their way arrogantly through the world. Michala Petri leads by example.

(Anders Beyer, Information, 19 June 2000)

There can be no doubt that Michala Petri now plays with greater warmth and more dynamic phraseology. The sheer joy of playing infested the baroque portion of the programme. It ended the long and varied prize concert with a sense of captivating freedom wrought from entertaining music: an orchestral suite with alto recorder by Telemann and a sopranino concerto by Vivaldi. Fast, swirling virtuosity seems to liberate the musician in Petri most of all, and with incomparable elegance, high spirits and drive.

(Jan Jacoby, Politiken, 19 June 2000)

Per Nørgård’s small, introverted solo for the alto recorder, Tusmørke-Dialog, seems destined to be taken into Michala Petri’s extensive solo repertoire. There’s a Queen of Spades [spader-dame] lurking in this music who seems some way from Petri’s natural personal expression. And with good reason: everyone has several sides, and a Sonning laureate has very many. That is why the award is so well-placed.

(Knud Cornelius, Frederiksborg Avis, 19 June 2000)


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