Shibe wins Bernstein Award

Edinburgh-born Sean Shibe continues to blaze a trail for guitarists with the announcement that he is the 2022 winner of the Leonard Bernstein Award to a young musician from the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany.

The prize, which is worth 10,000 Euros, alongside a showcase concert at this summer’s festival, has never been awarded to a guitarist before. Previous winners include pianists Lang Lang and, last year, Isata Kanneh-Mason. Shibe, who is 29, was also the first guitarist to be chosen as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and to be awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, while his albums on the Delphian and Pentatone labels have been garlanded with awards.

His concert, in Lubeck on August 19, will feature the Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach.

The prize is supported by a consortium of German savings banks and is assessed by a panel of judges that includes two of Bernstein’s children: Jaime Bernstein Thomas and Alexander Bernstein. Festival director and fellow jurist Dr Christian Kuhnt said: “Sean Shibe combines different styles and genres. In doing so, he impresses with outstanding musical ability, a rich imagination and the courage to break new ground. He enriches the concert stages with his programmes. We are looking forward to many stimulating ideas from this exceptional talent.”

Shibe said: “This recognition is deeply moving, perhaps particularly so because it is the first time that the Leonard Bernstein Award has been awarded to a guitarist – but mostly because it feels like a ratification of an artistic direction that, while deeply felt by myself, at the time seemed risky and peculiar to many of my colleagues. Thank you, SHMF, for instead encouraging me further!”

Portrait by Iga Gozdowska