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The “Kathrin Prize” – Kathrin Lemke Scholarship for Young Jazz Improvisers

Kathrin Lemke (b. 9/27/1971 – d. 1/22/2016)

The alto saxophonist, composer and bandleader Kathrin Lemke, born and raised in Heidelberg, passed away on January 22, 2016, in Berlin, at the age of only 44. Together with her bands JazzXclamation and Heliocentric Counterblast, as well as her Kathrin Lemke Quartett, she released seven CDs between 2001 and 2016. Kathrin Lemke was a multi-faceted artist with a deep interest in literature and philosophy, in addition to music. Probably her greatest musical passions were the work of the eccentric visionary of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra, and the music of her own childhood and youth in Heidelberg; it is to the latter that she dedicated her last album, “My Personal Heimat”, (fixcel-records 013), which appeared posthumously in 2016.

Kathrin Lemke was not only a tireless musician, but also an engaged educator and mediator of musical ideas. As such, she was familiar with the reality of the life of a jazz musician. From 2011 to 2014, she wrote 20 episodes of the column “My Fabulous Everyday Jazz Life” in the magazine JAZZTHETIK (“Jazzsthetics”), where, in a manner as serious as it was humorous, she talked about the everyday problems of a jazz musician. As a workshop instructor, at the 2015 Darmstadt Jazz Conceptions, for instance, she remained a devoted and inspiring teacher till the end, despite her serious illness.

The Freedom to Dream

Dreams play a not inconsiderable part in the personal and professional development of young musicians. Realizing musical desires and longings fosters the capability to attain the necessary maturity for an artist’s life, which is sometimes full of deprivations.

For her entire life, Kathrin Lemke explored the formation of her personal sound and her own individual compositional signature. She was aware that sometimes small contributions can help a musician to realize a dreamed-of or already initiated project, which then becomes an important building block in the development of the artist’s identity. This is the kind of contribution proposed by the “Kathrin Prize.” Conceived as a weeklong work stipend at the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, it is intended to provide support for young musicians with artistic, educational or stage projects. It can also provide an impetus for developing new artistic projects or realizing long-cherished ideas.

The Kathrin Prize

From the estate of Kathrin Lemke, Kathrin’s mother, Irene Lemke-Stein, has donated 25,000 Euros to promote the development of young jazz musicians. She has offered these funds to the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt as a donation specifically earmarked for the creation of the “Kathrin Prize” – Kathrin Lemke Scholarship for Young Jazz Improvisers, initially for a period of ten years.

Starting in 2018, the “Kathrin Prize” – Kathrin Lemke Scholarship for Young Jazz Improvisers shall be granted every two years by the mother of the musician to the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt and the magazine JAZZTHETIK.

The award is granted in the form of a project stipend. This consists in a weeklong workshop phase with residency at the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, culminating in the presentation of the award and a concert by the award winner. The award winner can choose the date for both the award presentation and the workshop phase. The time frame must, however, be prior to the announcement of the subsequent award winner.

The workshop phase could be utilized, to name a few examples, for the execution of a proposed project or as a rehearsal period before a CD production, for the development of programs spanning different genres, for the preparation of a study trip abroad, as a composition period, or for other similar purposes. The award winner determines the content and design of the week.

The scholarship covers any of the award winner’s costs that are directly related to the workshop phase, such as travel, accommodations, per diems, honoraria for rehearsals or guest musicians, rental costs for rehearsal spaces or instruments, etc. At the conclusion of the week, award winners give a closing or workshop concert in the historic vaulted cellar of the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, where the official presentation of the Kathrin Prize also takes place. The “Kathrin Prize” itself is not endowed with a fixed amount. The award winner receives an artistically designed statue.

The names of the scholarship holders will be announced each September 27th, Kathrin Lemke’s birthday.

Young Jazz Improvisers

Candidates for a scholarship are proposed from within the circle of a curatorial board. Each member of the curatorial board is entitled to nominate a musician for the award. Personal applications are not possible.

Recipients of the scholarship should be musicians who are at the beginning of their career as professional jazz musicians, but have already published their first independent musical project and have resolved to embark upon the path of an improvisational musician. There is no pre-determined age limit. Candidates can also come from outside Germany.

All nominated musicians are asked to submit a project idea and exposé, as well as a proposal for the design of their stay in Darmstadt. This should also include the proposal of a specific date for the period of the workshop phase. Proposals must be submitted in writing. The curatorial board decides on the basis of the written exposé and selects one of the nominees as the award winner.

Time Frame

  • May of an even year: Appointment of the curatorial board
  • July: Notification of nominees and request for submission of project proposals by mid-August; consultations with and questions from applicants
  • Late August/Early September: Evaluation of exposés and selection of award winner
  • Late September: Announcement of award winner by the Jazzinstitut on September 27, Kathrin’s Birthday
  • Between January and late June the following (odd) year: Workshop phase, closing concert and award presentation in Darmstadt
  • In June, following even year: Gathering of proposals by the the curatorial board for the next award winner
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