Yo-Yo Ma Wins Birgit Nilsson Foundation Prize

By Francisco Salazar

The Birgit Nilsson Foundation President, Susanne Rydén has announced that the 2022 Birgit Nilsson Prize will be awarded to the cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The prize compromises $1 million USD, the largest in classical music, awarded to artists and institutions who have contributed an important chapter to music history. 

The cellist is the first instrumentalist to receive the Prize, which will be presented to him by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Prize Ceremony on Oct. 18 at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

In a statement, Yo-Yo Ma said: “I wish I could have met Birgit Nilsson in person. Yet, she is alive for me through the recordings of her legendary voice and the legacy of her great generosity, her sense of humor and a lifetime grounded in cultural values. It is a great privilege to receive this honor and to play a small part in the legacy of one of our great musical role models, an artist whose attention was directed outward, toward young people and music’s role in creating a better world.”

The Oct. 18 Prize Ceremony will see Yo-Yo Ma accompanied by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Swedish Radio Choir as well as young Swedish artists, Amalie Stalheim (cello) and Birgit Nilsson Stipendium recipients, Johanna Wallroth (soprano) and Emma Sventelius (mezzo-soprano).

Past winners include Nina Stemme, Riccardo Muti, Plácido Domingo, and Vienna Philharmonic.