Guitar took center stage in December, when Sharon Isbin received Musical America’s 2020 award for instrumentalist of the year. Other 2020 winners were Joan Tower as composer of the year, Danish String Quartet as ensemble of the year, baritone Peter Mattei as vocalist of the year, and Austria’s Salzburg Festival as festival of the year. Radio journalist Annie Bergen served as emcee at the December event at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Terrace Room, with Musical America features editor Sedgwick Clark presenting the recipients with their awards. It was the 59th year of Musical America’s annual awards event; the first winner was Leonard Bernstein, in 1961. Musical America is publisher of the annual Directory for the Performing Arts and the daily news site


Caption: Winners of Musical America’s 2020 awards (left to right): guitarist Sharon Isbin; baritone Peter Mattei; composer Joan Tower; Salzburg Festival Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser and President Helga Rabl-Stadler (front row); and Danish String Quartet members Fredrik Øland (violin) Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola), and Fredrik Sjölin (cello). Photo by Richard Termine.