The Taverner Awards were inaugurated at the 2007 Taverner Symposium ‘Taking Stock’. This is a gloriously simple and unashamedly subjective scheme, in the preparation of which, as Andrew Parrott explained, ‘every expense has been spared’. As an antidote to the Oscars, this involved no voting, no judges, no sealed envelopes, dresses or speeches and, as it happened, no prize. The names singled out for recognition, some of them posthumously, were ‘unaffiliated musicians whose significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego’.
The 2007 recipients were:
Andrew Ashbee, retired schoolmaster, for his scrupulous transcription of documents pertaining to the lives of musicians at the English court; his Records of English court music, an invaluable research tool, runs to no less than nine volumes;
Edmund A. Bowles, who spent most of his career working for Bell and IBM but is known for his valuable work on instruments, with a particular understanding of iconographical sources;
† Harold Copeman, civil servant and keen amateur musician, for his self-published Singing in Latin (and its shorter pocket version);
Jeff Nussbaum, by profession a maths teacher at a tough school in New York, founder of the Historical Brass Society and editor of its Journal since 1989;
Clifford Bartlett, for the invaluable Early Music Review, now at issue 120;
† Michel Piguet, for his pioneering mastery of the Baroque oboe and its forebears;
Bruce Dickey, inspirational cornettist, with an unequalled command of embellishment;
Hugh Keyte, early music producer at the BBC in the late 1970s and early 1980s, whose ambitious series marked a golden age of BBC programming;
Michael Lowe, who abandoned his academic studies as an archaeologist to become a distinguished and uncompromising lute-maker;
† Eric Van Tassel, for much of his life a copy-editor, without whom Parrott’s book The Essential Bach Choir might still be a pile of index cards;
† John Toll, outstanding continuo player, at the hub of many leading early music groups for a quarter of a century; much missed.
Finally, an award for three very different composers:
Harvey Brough, for Valete in pace, commissioned by Portsmouth Cathedral for the 60th anniversary of the D-day landings, whose first performances Parrott conducted in Caen and Portsmouth;
James Wood, conductor and virtuoso percussionist as well as composer, for his extraordinary opera Hildegard, a modern-day liturgical drama;
Vladímir Godár, for his beautifully assembled CD Mater, a retrospective of recent works, which take the music of earlier ages as their starting point: ‘In creativity we are but descendants of ancient ancestors … We always create art “with a little help from our friends”.’
There were four further recipients announced at the 2013 ‘Taverner @ 40’ symposium:
Bonnie J. Blackburn
…and a single recipient at the 2017 symposium’The Pursuit of Musick’:
Francis Baines, extraordinary and splendidly eccentric musician of many parts, who would have been 100 years old in 2017.