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2006 Culture Awards

The Year in Classical & Dance

Industry Star: Ara Guzelimian
Yes, yes, Peter Gelb shows promise, but his new Met Opera is still incubating, whereas Ara Guzelimian’s vision has been a clear and present force in the classical-music world. As Carnegie Hall’s senior director and artistic adviser for eight years, Guzelimian was, in the words of one industry insider, “the power behind the throne.” Before he announced in August that he’s leaving to become dean of students at the Juilliard School, he was a driving force behind this year’s extraordinary Steve Reich celebration. He also kept Carnegie together through the premature deaths of a pair of beloved directors—Judith Aaron of cancer in 1998 (at age 56) and Robert Harth of a heart attack in 2004 (at 47)—and lots of turnover between the two. Even though he’s left Carnegie, Guzelimian will keep bringing his even-keeled, dignified, warm temperament and intellectualism to the stage there as host of the Making Music series, interviewing composers like John Adams and Pierre Boulez. He took the new job, he’s said, because he wants to turn his focus to artists who are, well, still trying to get to Carnegie Hall. It’s a coup for Juilliard—not least because just two weeks ago the institutions announced a new partnership. —Alicia Zuckerman

Still a Young Turk of the keyboard when he left the New York recital scene ten years ago, the Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelich returned to the Metropolitan Museum as a full-fledged middle-aged eccentric with a bizarre stop-and-start take on late Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, served up with willful vulgarity and incoherent chatter. Once a provocatively divisive musical personality, Pogorelich has matured in all the wrong ways, delivering performances that seem like assaults on the music rather than valid interpretations. I wonder whether even the most devoted supporters of his early career would put up with his weirdness today.

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