• Gloria Artis, 12.04.14

It was a sideshow to the main event of the evening (the world premiere of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Fourth Symphony), but the ceremony that took place in the Thomas Beecham Room at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 12 April 2014 was very special to me.  I had learned late last year that the Polish Government, through the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, had awarded me the Gloria Artis Gold Medal, for services to Polish music.  This was a great honour, not least because the vast majority of recipients of the bronze, silver and gold medals since the award’s creation in 2006 have been Polish creative artists, and consequently relatively few are from other countries. I gathered that Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle and the historian Norman Davies were previous recipients of the Gold Medal.  Exalted company!

There was no immediate prospect of an award ceremony as I was off to France at the start of 2014 on a four-month walk.  I was scheduled, however, to return to London for a few days to give the pre-concert talk for the Górecki premiere and to attend rehearsals.  This turned out to suit the Polish side too.

The ceremony was carried out at a reception, between the talk and the concert, by the Polish Ambassador to the UK, Witold Sobków, who was very generous in his citation.  I gave a brief response to express my profound gratitude for the award, brief because time was running out (the clock on the tower of the Houses of Parliament was touching 19.20!).  There was still time to grab a photo opportunity with Górecki’s daughter Anna, with her husband Wojciech and their two older children, Jaś and Emi, and Janis Susskind, Górecki’s publisher at Boosey & Hawkes, and also a shot with my sister Gaynor who had come up to London especially.  Then it was into the concert for the premiere, and early the next morning I was back on the train heading for Paris and Limoges to complete my walk.

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You can read a couple of related media reports here:

Polish Radio: http://www.thenews.pl/1/6/Artykul/168180,Top-British-music-critic-Adrian-Thomas-gets-Polish-state-honour
Cardiff University: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/music/newsandevents/news/schoolnews/14goldmedal.html

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