Guitarist Sean Shibe becomes the first recipient of a newly-created Gramophone Award for Concept Album, which celebrates imaginative A&R, ear-catching programming and, above all, faultless execution. Shibe’s album ‘softLOUD’ on Delphian, juxtaposes Scottish Dances and music by James MacMillan played on a traditional acoustic instrument with contemporary works on electric guitar by Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Steve Reich, including a performance of the latter's Electric Counterpoint described by its composer as ‘one of the best recordings ever’. This is the first time that music for electric guitar has featured at the Gramophone Awards. "Have we today forgotten how to speak softly and with grace; or is the real danger that we aren’t screaming loudly enough?" asks Sean Shibe in the sleeves notes, but, ultimately, through the programme itself.
During his acceptance speech, Sean Shibe said:
"In the age of never-ending digital noise - streaming; playlists defined by algorithm; a sea of apps that (cl)aim to make your life more convenient - I worry that the importance of long form ideas is being forgotten, and the patience required to process them lost. Today, an award like this is not only relevant, but vital. I’m delighted that softLOUD has been voted by the editors of Gramophone as the recipient of the inaugural Concept Album Award at the 2019 Gramophone Classical Music Awards."
At only 27, Sean Shibe already has a collection of firsts under his belt: he is the first guitarist to be selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, the first guitarist to be awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, the first guitarist to win a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Young Artists category; and now, the first winner of the Concept Album Gramophone Award. Please read more on the Gramophone Magazine’s website here.
Huge congratulations to Sean Shibe!
Photo Credit: Tom Askew-Miller