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BMW Welt Jazz Award 2019: “Saxophone Worlds”.

The eleventh edition of the BMW Welt Jazz Award will celebrate the variety of “Saxophone Worlds”. As in previous years, jazz lovers will be invited to six Sunday matinee concerts offered free of charge from January to March 2019.

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Munich. The eleventh edition of the BMW Welt Jazz Award will celebrate the variety of “Saxophone Worlds”. As in previous years, jazz lovers will be invited to six Sunday matinee concerts offered free of charge from January to March 2019. Iconic in the jazz world, the Saxophone in many guises will take centre stage during this year’s competition. Six outstanding international ensembles showcasing the instrument will interpret this year’s theme “Saxophone Worlds” in the double-cone structure at the BMW Welt. The participating musicians come from Estonia, Germany, France, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The final of the BMW Welt Jazz Award, which decide the winners of the prize money totalling 15,000 Euro, will be held on 4 May 2019, in the auditorium of the BMW Welt.

The saxophone, star of the BMW Welt Jazz Award 2019, was invented in 1840 by the Belgian musician Adolphe Sax. While potentially useable in a traditional symphony orchestra, the saxophone was mainly designed to shine in military bands. However it was in the 1920s that the saxophone finally got its big break, when early jazz musicians discovered its dynamic, highly variable sound. The saxophone rapidly became the most important melodic instrument of jazz music and continues to be so to this day.

In a total of six BMW Welt Jazz Award matinees the ensembles will have the opportunity to impress audiences with their interpretations of “Saxophone Worlds”. Following the final matinee in March, an expert jury will select two ensembles to perform at the final concert held in the auditorium of the BMW Welt, where the winner of the BMW Welt Jazz Award 2019 will be announced. In addition to prize money of 10,000 Euro, the winning ensemble will receive a trophy designed specially by BMW Design. The runner-up will receive 5,000 Euro. In addition, the audience’s overall favourite ensemble will receive the audience award, which includes a performance at a concert held at resort Schloss Elmau.

Dieter Reiter, Mayor of Munich, said, “I believe this year’s BMW Welt Jazz Award will be truly exciting for both longstanding fans and first-time visitors of this high-quality series of concerts, as only few instruments are as emblematic of jazz as the saxophone, with its unique and very versatile sound. In addition, together with his bigband Jazzrausch, Roman Sladek will be the first winner of the BMW Welt Young Artist Award to perform at the evening concert to be held in the double-cone as a prelude to the six matinee shows. Once again, I would like to thank BMW AG for their continued and lasting commitment to the arts, especially this outstanding series of concerts which, to top it all, is offered free of charge.”

Dr Nicolas Peter, BMW AG Management Board member, said, “The language of jazz is universal. Its crown jewel is improvisation, which makes it possible to express the entire range of human passions and emotions and transcend cultural boundaries. I am excited to see exactly how the bands will interpret the theme “Saxophone Worlds” – the BMW Welt offers the perfect acoustic conditions for jam sessions such as theirs. I would like to thank our partners of many years, especially the City of Munich, which made the BMW Welt Jazz Award possible again in 2019.”

The upcoming year will also see the fourth edition of the BMW Welt Young Artist Jazz Award, which is offered in co-operation with the City of Munich. Young jazz musicians and ensembles who come from Munich or its surrounding area are eligible to apply. As previously seen with award winners Josef Reßle, Roman Sladek and Martin Brugger, the jury members of BMW Welt Jazz Award will decide on the level of support granted to the applicants.

BMW Welt Jazz Award 2019

Opening concert on 17 January 2019, at 7 pm in the double-cone of the BMW Welt:

As a prelude to the Sunday matinees and for the very first time in the history of the competition, a concert will be held on the evening of 17 January 2019, to launch the BMW Welt Jazz Award 2019. The concert will feature the winner of the BMW Welt Young Artist Jazz Award 2017, Roman Sladek. Admission will be free, doors will open at 6 pm.

Sunday matinees from 11 am to 1.30 pm in the double-cone of the BMW Welt:

27 January 2019        Maciej Obara Quartet

3 February 2019        Céline Bonacina Crystal Quartet

17 February 2019      Géraldine Laurent Quartet

24 February 2019      Matthieu Bordenave Archipel

10 March 2019          Maria Faust Machina

24 March 2019          Rudresh Mahanthappa Quintet

The matinees are offered free of charge; however, seating is limited and cannot be guaranteed. Doors open at 10.30 am.

Final concert in the auditorium of the BMW Welt at 7 pm:

4 May 2019                Final concert featuring the two shortlisted finalists

Tickets for the final concert will go on sale on 27 January 2019, at the BMW Welt and München Ticket.

As in previous years, the event will be hosted by Beate Sampson, Editor of the jazz desk at German broadcasting station Bayerischer Rundfunk BR‑KLASSIK.


The distinguished panel of expert jurors will be headed by Oliver Hochkeppel (Music and cultural affairs journalist, Süddeutsche Zeitung) and will include the following members:

Roland Spiegel, Editor and jazz expert at German broadcasting station Bayerischer Rundfunk BR‑KLASSIK

Andreas Kolb, Editor-in-chief of and neue musikzeitung

Heike Lies, Musicologist, Music and Music Theatre Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the state capital Munich

Christiane Böhnke-Geisse, Artistic Director of the international jazz festival “Bingen swingt”.

Artists and ensembles

27 January 2019: Maciej Obara Quartet

37-year-old Polish alto and tenor saxophonist Maciej Obara is one of Europe’s most significant jazz musicians. After his trio won the prestigious competition for emerging jazz bands in Bielska Zadymka in 2006, Obara took the international jazz scene by storm with his debut album “Message from Ohayo”, published the following year. He caught the attention of Manfred Eicher, head of the renowned label ecm, who helped place him in Tomasz Stanko’s band. With his sixth album “Unloved”, Obara celebrated his bandleader debut at ecm in 2017. For the BMW Welt Jazz Award his lyrical, colourful sound and breath taking technique will be accompanied by fellow countryman Dominik Wania on the piano and two Norwegian musicians, bassist Ole Moretn Vagan and drummer Gard Nilssen.

3 February 2019: Céline Bonacina Crystal Quartet

From a purely visual perspective, Céline Bonacina stands out among her colleagues – the petite Frenchwoman plays the mighty baritone sax. Following her classical saxophone training at the conservatories of Belfort, Besançon and Paris, Bonacina quickly identified it as her instrument of choice and went on to play with various Parisian big bands from 1996. In 1998, she moved to the island of La Réunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where she worked as lecturer at the conservatory for seven years. The local music traditions of that island continue to influence Bonacina’s music to this day, especially with regards to rhythm. After her return to Paris, she caused a stir with her debut album “Vue d’en Haut” released in 2005, and Bonacina subsequently won various awards and went on to play alongside important figures of the Parisian scene as well, as international stars including Omar Sosa, Mike Mainieri, Nils Landgren, Nguyên Lê and Gwilym Simcock. At the BMW Welt, she will present her current quartet with pianist Leonardo Montana, bassist Chris Jennings and drummer Asaf Sirkis.

17 February 2019: Géraldine Laurent Quartet

As the daughter of a music and art teacher, Frenchwoman Geraldine Laurent was not only surrounded by music from a very early age, she also came to understand music as an integral part of an all-encompassing aesthetic whole. Laurent began playing the piano before turning to the alto saxophone, which she studied at the conservatory of her home town of Niort, from 13 years of age. She made a point of acquiring a comprehensive overview of jazz traditions, which in turn led to her becoming a much sought-after accompanist of artists including Antoine Hervier, Aldo Romano and singer Romeyn Adams Nesbitt. Starting in 2005, Laurent became famous in France for her own projects. In 2006, she won the “Django d’Or” for best emerging artist and the “Prix Révélation” at the jazz festival at Antibes. Featured on the title page of the New York Times in 2007, she went on to win the “Prix Django Reinhardt” in 2008, and all of her albums have won numerous awards. Her album “At Work” is no exception and Laurent will be presenting it at the BMW Welt Jazz Award, together with pianist Paul Lay, her long-time partner bassist Yoni Zelnick and drummer Donald Kontomanou.

24 February 2019: Matthieu Bordenave Archipel

The 35-year-old tenor saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave from southern France first studied classical and jazz saxophone in Paris, before he enrolled at the Munich Academy of Music for a Master's degree. Nowadays, he is regarded as one of the most outstanding voices of European jazz with his lyrical, nuanced playing, which is immediately recognizable throughout his numerous recordings: In addition to three albums for the traditional label ENJA Records, highly acclaimed by critics, he made his ECM debut in 2018 with the Shinya Fukumori Trio. With his latest project "Archipel", which he will present at the BMW World Jazz Award 2019, he will perform together with two leading musicians: Florian Weber, who already reached the finals of the first BMW World Jazz Award with his trio Minsarah and who today is one of the most successful German jazz pianists, as well as the Swiss bassist Patrice Moret, among others known as a member of the Colin Vallon Trio. Jointly and throughout his very own compositions, Matthieu Bordenave traces the poetic work of René Char, the great French poet of the 20th century, whose idiosyncratic and difficult to grasp work still fascinates today.

10 March 2019: Maria Faust Machina

One of the discoveries of the past festival summers is Estonian saxophonist and composer Maria Faust. This 39-year-old musician completed her classical training at Tallinn’s conservatory in 2001, before concentrating on jazz and moving to Denmark. She finished her saxophone studies in Esbjerg in 2008, but continued to study composition at the renowned Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen until 2016. During this time, Faust made an impression with bands and projects such as the Jazz Catastrophe Bigband, the electro-acoustic ensemble Pistol Nr. 9 and the Maria Faust Machina, which she will present at the BMW Welt. With its unusual orchestration – featuring Maria Faust on the alto saxophone, Ned Ferm on the tenor saxophone , Ida Nørholm on the cello, Jacob Anderskov on the piano and both Nils Bo Davidsen and Adam Pultz Melbye on the bass – the ensemble creates astonishingly subtle sounds that transcend genres and incorporate an enormous range of influences from traditional folklore and workers’ songs to experimental improvisation and sounds of from nature.

24 March 2019: Rudresh Mahanthappa Quintet

Numerous awards are testament to Rudresh Mahanthappa being one of the most creative and innovative jazz artists of the younger generation. As such, the most important American critics’ surveys voted him alto saxophonist of the year for four years running from 2010 to 2014. This son of South Indian immigrants grew up in the USA and was interested in jazz and saxophones from an early age. At Berklee College of Music, he met Indian saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath, who introduced him to Carnatic music. An amalgamation of complex rhythmical structures and modern jazz, Mahanthappa’s characteristic style shines through whether he accompanies David Murray, Tim Hagans and Danilo Perez, plays as part of a duo with pianist Vijay Iyer or performs in any of his own various projects and bands. At the BMW Welt Jazz Award, Mahanthappa will be revisiting his successful album “Bird Calls” together with guitarist Rez Abbasi, pianist Bobby Avey, bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston.

This edition of BMW Welt Jazz Award will once again enjoy the generous support of BR‑KLASSIK, nmz, resort Schloss Elmau and the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Munich.


For further questions please contact:

Prof Dr Thomas Girst
BMW Group Corporate and Governmental Affairs
Cultural Engagement
Telephone: +49-89-382-24753

Doris Fleischer
BMW Group Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs
Cultural Engagement
Telephone: +49-89-382-27806

Cypselus von Frankenberg
BMW Group Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs
BMW Brand, Marketing, Lifestyle
Telephone: +49-89-382-30641


About BMW Group Cultural Engagement

For almost 50 years now, the BMW Group has initiated and engaged in over 100 cultural cooperations worldwide. The company places the main focus of its long-term commitment on contemporary and modern art, classical music and jazz as well as architecture and design. In 1972, three large-scale paintings were created by the artist Gerhard Richter specifically for the foyer of the BMW Group's Munich headquarters. Since then, artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Daniel Barenboim, Jonas Kaufmann and architect Zaha Hadid have co-operated with BMW. In 2016 and 2017, female artist Cao Fei from China and American John Baldessari created the next two vehicles for the BMW Art Car Collection. Besides co-initiatives, such as BMW Tate Live, the BMW Art Journey and the “Opera for All” concerts in Berlin, Munich, Moscow and London, the company also partners with leading museums and art fairs as well as orchestras and opera houses around the world. The BMW Group takes absolute creative freedom in all its cultural activities – as this initiative is as essential for producing groundbreaking artistic work as it is for major innovations in a successful business.

Further information:


BMW Welt – at the heart of the brand, on the pulse of the city

The BMW Welt welcomes over 3 million visitors per year. With its pioneering architecture, BMW Welt is the heart of all the brands in the BMW Group – BMW, the sub-brands BMW M and BMW i, MINI, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Motorrad, which are impressively presented in their own worlds of experience. But it is not only the exhibitions and the collection of new vehicles that are highlights for car lovers from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy a year-round programme of varied events covering culture, art and entertainment as well as a popular event location for over 400 external events per year. The various restaurants of the BMW Welt offer a variety of culinary delights up to star gastronomy. In the BMW Welt Junior Campus, children and youngsters can enjoy exciting guided tours and workshops on the themes of mobility and sustainability.

The BMW Group

With its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises 30 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries; the company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

In 2017, the BMW Group sold over 2,463,500 passenger vehicles and more than 164,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax in the financial year 2017 was € 10.655 billion on revenues amounting to € 98.678 billion. As of 31 December 2017, the BMW Group had a workforce of 129,932 employees.

The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.

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