Whoever met him once, will keep the moment forever: John Rutter is one of the most famous and most performed composers for choral music worldwide. During a Gala Concert in Schwäbisch Gmünd, where he was awarded the “Preis der Europäischen Kirchenmusik” (European Church Music Prize) it became clear once more that there’s hardly a greater man than him at the moment.

The first 90 minutes of the concert were performed by the Chamber Choir of Europe with conductor Nicol Matt and further performers playing the organ, flute, oboe and harp. About 1000 people were sitting in the audience and listened to an excellent concert with works by many contemporary composers. Along with John Rutter’s music they performed works by Morten Lauridsen, Eriks Esenvalds, Eric Whitacre or Daniel Elder. The program was perfectly attuned to the occasion and brilliantly performed.

But, when John Rutter steps in the front to take on the conducting something happens to the choir which was also felt in the back row of the audience. It’s a moment which seems to make everything suddenly accessible: A tension spreads across the church as soon as the first tunes sound. The singers seem to fresh up, the faces start smiling and things fall into place. Rutter’s music seems to sing itself, his enthusiasm and his love for music become visible for everybody and he seems to unite with it as a conductor. It is clear: He is not concerned about doing it right, but doing it from the heart.

The obvious and passionate love for music was also highlighted by Prof. Reiner Schuhenn (Cologne), who addressed the laudatory speech during the awarding of the European Church Music Prize to John Rutter by Mayor Richard Arnold (Schwäbisch Gmünd): “Beethoven once said that music should come from the heart and should go directly to the heart and this is exactly what Rutter and his music are doing. He seems to acknowledge that there is a natural wish for people to look for beauty and harmony. He is not seeking intellectualism but straight music that grabs you by the heart. His melodies seem simple, but they are original and stick in your head.”

For the closing of the Gala Concert John Rutter himself supplied evidence and created the shining highlight of the evening on his own, when conducting the Chamber Choir of Europe together with 400 singers who participated in the “Singing Day): Together with all singers he presented his works “Look at the world” and “The Lord bless you and keep you”. Even though there were 400 voices part of this choir, the sound of the pieces was outstanding, almost professional and with a perfect intonation. A captivating atmosphere was created in the church and many people in the audience sang along quietly. It was as if his songs were “prayers of the world” that every single one naturally knew.

INTERKULTUR President Günter Titsch, who experienced the concert from the audience and was among the first congratulators, was also deeply impressed afterwards: “Not many musicians are like John Rutter – keeping an open mind and doing it all for the music and humanity. It’s pure joy to meet him and to work with him as our Honorary Artistic President.”

So, this evening conveyed especially one thing: John Rutter doesn’t work for himself, for the honors, but he does it for the music and for the people. There’s genuineness in his works, which is also reflected by his personality, too. In personal meetings he is very open and interested towards his counterpart, which makes a lasting impression.

As a folk saying goes: “A good musician is also a good human”. John Rutter is the perfect example of this.