Published on January 6, 2020 by WQXR | Share this post!
In January 2019 we at WQXR announced our first-ever Artists to Watch program, an annual initiative that would celebrate a group of classical artists and ensembles with whom we were excited to collaborate throughout the year and hopefully build relationships that will continue long into the future.
Our inaugural program, which we dubbed “19 for 19,” launched with a spectacular sold-out event at The Greene Space that was broadcast live on WQXR-FM and streamed worldwide, featuring five members of the program — Anne Akiko Meyers, Jess Gillam, Inon Barnatan, Wei Luo, and The Knights. In December 2019 the program concluded with a weeklong celebration on WQXR-FM, with a dedicated 60-minute broadcast every night, only breaking format in the middle of the week to go live to Carnegie Hall — for a broadcast featuring “19 for 19” member Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
Along the way, our “19 for 19” artists featured in WQXR podcasts, video shoots, other live events, radio broadcasts, album airplay exclusives, social media, and more. Of many highlights, one stands out, when, in September, “19 for 19” member Teddy Abrams invited three fellow “19 for 19”-ers (J’Nai Bridges, Elena Urioste, and Anne Akiko Meyers) to appear at the opening night of the Louisville Orchestra season. We broadcast that concert live on WQXR-FM — a first for us. And just because we are entering a new year, new decade, does not mean those initial relationships are ending: “19 for 19”-er Steven Isserlis is joining us for an exclusive recital at The Greene Space next month; Elena Urioste is developing ideas for a multi-disciplinary music and yoga wellness series with us; and just this past week we were proud to spin the debut recording from the visionary Nicola Benedetti Foundation Orchestra on Jeff Spurgeon’s morning show.
Today, we are proud to introduce you to our “20 for 20.” From Afghanistan to Iceland, via South Korea, Bulgaria, and our very own New York City, these are 20 singers, instrumentalists, ensembles, and conductors who are redefining what classical music can be, and doing so in diverse and thrilling ways. It goes without saying that our Artists to Watch program does not seek to be a definitive list of who’s hot in the classical world in any given calendar year. With all the talent that’s out there, how could we? But it is about embarking on a musical adventure with these 20 sensationally gifted artists as we take our next trip around the sun and saying: WQXR is a place to come and play, both literally and metaphorically. We can’t wait to see — and hear — what our “20 for 20” get up to this year, and we’re looking forward to sharing it, every step of the way, with you.
A very happy 2020 — and happy “WQXR 20 for 20”!
– Clemency Burton-Hill, Creative Director of Music & Arts, New York Public Radio
What a thrill it is to begin this special relationship with WQXR and its listeners, and to be included among a cohort of such exceptional musicians. We look forward to a fun year of music-making with all these wonderful artists.