Internationally acclaimed Bolivian classical pianist and child prodigy Ana-Maria Vera was chosen as Britain's favourite Latin classical musician after two months of voting by the public and the verdicts of a panel of expert judges in the Latin-UK Awards 2014 (The LUKAS).
Ana-Maria, who lives in London, made her professional debut when she was eight with her first recording of Mozart and Haydn Concertos with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, which was awarded a Gold Record by Philips. At age 12 she was invited to give a recital at the White House for President Carter. At 16 she was honoured by the Bolivian state with a commemorative postage stamp.
Ana-Maria's playing has been described as 'pure aural silk' and as 'fierce and fearless, thrillingly mobile and sentient.' She has performed with many orchestras around the world including the London Philharmonic Orchestra and given solo recitals in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Washington and elsewhere. She devotes much of her time to solo music. Her most recent solo recording, of the "Goyescas" piano suite by Granados, was released on the Signum label.
In 2011, Ana Maria founded the charity Bolivia Clásica to nurture aspiring young musicians in her home country. It includes an international music festival and a music academy with a string quartet programme, a children's choir and a young chamber orchestra. The academy draws most of its students from poor and remote villages and provides free tuition and use of instruments to those who cannot afford it. The charity has headquarters in London and La Paz and flies in musicians from across the world to train the children and local teachers.
The LUKAS is the annual award ceremony to recognise the contributions of one million Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese residents to British life. Now in its third year, it is the fastest-growing awards ceremony in the UK and most prestigious Latin event in UK.
Tens of thousands of Latinos, Spaniards and British Latin culture lovers voted for their favourite Latin and Spanish acts, artists and concerts of the year over the last two months. Over 400 nominations were submitted for 13 Music Awards.
The winners of the awards for outstanding contribution to music are:
- Tropical Act of the Year: Dorance Lorza and Sexteto Cafe (Colombia)
- Musician of the Year: Camilo Menjura (Colombia)·
- Vocalist of the Year: Javier Moreno (Spain)·
- Brazilian Act of the Year: Da Lata (UK/Brazil)
- International Artist of the Year: Marc Anthony (Puerto Rico)·
- Classical, Folk or Jazz Act of the Year: Ana Maria Vera (Bolivia)·
- Urban Act of the Year: Ando y Mello (Colombia)·
- Alternative Act of the Year: WARA (Cuba, London remix)·
- Tropical DJ of the Year: Fernando KBZOn (Colombia)
- Brazilian DJ of the Year: DJ Bruno Camargo (Brazil)
- Crossover DJ of the Year: Saul Maya (Ecuador)
- Concert of the Year: Roberto Pla and his Latin Ensemble at Glastonbury
- Concert by International Artist of the Year: Yan Collazo at The River of Life (Puerto Rico)
Ana-Maria will receive her award at The LUKAS Gala Ceremony at the KOKO, on 30 April. Legendary Flamenco guitarist Paco Peña will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to British Music and the best home-grown Latin talent will perform on stage.
"It still amazes me the amount of Latino talent based in the UK. This year the quality and diversity of the winners are a proof of that. The LUKAS is a fantastic event, recognizing Latino contribution to UK and global culture, which is long overdue." says guitarist Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), recipient of LUKAS 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award and one of the judges.
Many International Latin superstars have lined up to show their support, including Juanes, multi-Grammy award winner and currently the world's most popular Spanish-speaking artist, who said. "The LUKAS are doing a great job celebrating and rewarding the talent and efforts of our cultures in the UK and Europe."
The Gala Ceremony will be hosted by Boris Izaguirre, one of the Spanish world's biggest TV show hosts. Last year's LUKAS awards were presented by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, fashion queen Vivienne Westwood and ballet star Tamara Rojo.
The public voted in seven award categories marking contributions to the arts, music, sport, dance, food, business and community. In all, 1200 individuals and organizations were nominated for one of 56 LUKAS awards.
The event is organised by www.Latinolife.co.uk, the UK's leading Latino lifestyle magazine. Visit www.thelukas.co.uk, founded by journalist, writer and social entrepreneur Amaranta Wright and Latin DJ, producer and promoter Jose Luis Seijas.
The Bolivia Clásica Festival 2014 will take place from 5-16 August across La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.
THE LUKAS 2014 MUSIC CATEGORY IS SPONSORED BY
The iconic recording studios SSR will give free studio time, engineers and training to the winners. SSR's Head of Audio, Jonathan Espinoza says: "We feel very proud to be able to part of this project which highlights the very best of Latino music in the UK and we are really looking forward to have these bands in our studios. We have state of the art facilities including a Neve room where many great records have been made. The vibe that we have at SSR London is great and very creative which without a doubt will benefit these amazing artists during their sessions."
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