Heritage for Europe celebrated at Awards Ceremony in Turku

St. Michael’s Church in Turku in Finland hosted a moving ceremony in honour of the winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2017 on the evening of 15 May. Around 800 people from across Europe paid tribute to this year’s most outstanding heritage achievements and welcomed the strong message that heritage is a cohesive force for the future of Europe that was delivered by Europa Nostra’s President Plácido Domingo and European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.

The Chairs of each of the the four categories – Fani Mallouchou-Tufano (Conservation), Isik Aydemir (Research), Álvaro Santa Cruz (Dedicated Service to Heritage) and Goranka Horjan (Education, Training and Awareness-Raising) – conferred the 29 laureates of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, who came from 18 countries participating in the EU’s Creative Europe programme, as well as the two winners of the Europa Nostra Awards from European countries not taking part in that programme, namely Switzerland and Turkey.

European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2017, Turku
Maestro Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, alternately announced and presented the 7 Grand Prix, selected by independent juries of experts and entitled to receive €10,000 each. The winner of the Public Choice Award – Mr. Zoltán Kallós, Transylvania, Romania – was introduced by Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

In their speeches, the President of Europa Nostra and the European Commissioner paid homage to all winners.

“You are the source of our pride. Pride in so much creativity, so much knowledge, so much innovation and so much dedication put in the service of Europe’s amazingly rich and diverse heritage. You are also the source of our hope. Hope that many more heritage sites – with their related intangible heritage – will be saved and transmitted to future generations,” stated Plácido Domingo.

“You managed to put policy into practice and share your knowledge and experience with the rest of us. And you are sharing your vision of Europe – so that it can inspire us as we build the future of this continent,” said Tibor Navracsics.

Commissioner Navracsics and Maestro Domingo also advocated the vital role that cultural heritage has to play in creating a stronger and more inclusive Europe.

“In the face of many challenges, we need to focus not on what divides us, but on what brings us closer to each other. Heritage is such a common ground. We must celebrate and open up access to it at all levels: European, national, regional and local. European institutions, governments, local authorities and civil society must all work together. I want us to use the European Year of Cultural Heritage to reach out to citizens from all backgrounds, and especially to young people. The Year is for them,” noted the Commissioner.

“Just like no successful heritage project is possible without teamwork and citizen participation, the visionary project of the building of Europe can only prosper with teamwork and with due involvement and the engagement of civil society. And each of us must take full responsibility for it. Europa Nostra and I strongly believe that in this way our Europe will have not only an impressive past but also a promising future,” emphasised Plácido Domingo.

Watch the European Heritage Awards Highlights

The President of Europa Nostra thanked the Mayor of Turku Aleksi Randell, who also addressed the audience, for “the opportunity to discover the charms of the oldest city in Finland,” and congratulated Finnish people on the 100th anniversary of independence of the country.

The Awards Ceremony was enhanced by an enchanting musical programme. Rising stars in opera, Iván Ayón Rivas (Peru), Elisa Balbo (Italy), Anu Ontronen (Finland) and Markus Suihkonen (Finland), accompanied on piano by Paolo Andreoli (Italy) and Hans-Otto Ehrström (Finland), took us on a beautiful musical journey through Europe. We give special thanks to the Turku Music Festival Foundation and its Managing Director Liisa Ketomäki, the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation and the Matti Salminen Foundation for enriching our ceremony’s programme. We are also grateful for the presence at the Awards Ceremony of Nicoletta Mantovani, Founder of the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation and wife of the late Maestro Pavarotti, her daughter Alice Pavarotti, and the Finnish opera singer Matti Salminen.

Watch the full Ceremony

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