Music Is Family: Michael Lewin and Cathy Young Represent at the Inaugural RoundGlass Music Awards
On January 26, Boston Conservatory at Berklee had a big presence among musicians from around the world, Grammy Award winners, and international diplomats at the inaugural RoundGlass Music Grand Awards Ceremony in New York City. The brainchild of Indian Grammy Award-winner and environmental activist Ricky Kej, this unique award ceremony recognized musicians who create works that promote "wellness, peace, and environmental consciousness."
The Conservatory’s Executive Director Cathy Young was an honored guest at the event and presented the first three awards of the evening. Professor of Piano Michael Lewin was among the evening’s 11 featured performers, and also won the RoundGlass Music Award for Best Classical Music Recording for his recording of Claude Debussy’s "Jardins sous la pluie" ("Gardens in the Rain"). Other performers included singer and Berklee College of Music honorary doctorate recipient Patti Austin ('00H), saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, and cellist Tina Guo.
Lewin, a concert pianist with an international career, is no stranger to the global stage. But for a musician whose repertoire is firmly rooted in the classical tradition, he has in recent years found an unlikely home among an eclectic, international community of musicians representing genres such as jazz, new age, and world music. This began in 2014, when he performed one of Chopin’s Nocturnes on Winds of Samsara, a recording by RoundGlass founder Ricky Kej and South African flutist Wouter Kellerman that won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album in 2015.
For Lewin, stepping outside of the classical world has first and foremost been about personal relationships and embracing his role as "an ambassador of classical music" within this community. And, for someone who describes himself as "very solitary," these friendships have been deeply transformative. "I practice alone, travel alone, and usually perform alone," he says. "But the relationships that I have made traveling around the world have given me a sense of family."
The theme of family ran through his acceptance speech, much of which was devoted to Puerto Rico, where he has performed annually for the past 30 years—most recently just before Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017. "Puerto Rico is family for me," he said in his speech. "The musicians of Puerto Rico have stood strong during this catastrophe. The symphony orchestra, when there was no power in the performance hall, played outside."
Lewin also acknowledged his Boston Conservatory at Berklee family, and Cathy Young’s special presence at the ceremony. Young, who presented the awards for Best New Age Song, Best World Music Song, and Best Pop Song, comments, "I am proud of the Conservatory’s major presence at an event that recognizes artists who are creating music to better our world, and am honored to have been a presenter. Boston Conservatory has had a long history of inspiring artists to use the power of the performing arts for a positive social impact, both locally and globally. Michael Lewin’s award is a great reflection of this commitment."