In 2007, the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics and the SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO inaugurated the annual Giga-Hertz Award for electronic music. This new, future-oriented international music award was initiated by the Chairman of the ZKM, Peter Weibel.
The Giga-Hertz Award addresses to composers working in the fields of electronic and acousmatic music. A Grand Prize and four Special Prizes are awarded once a year by an international jury. The Grand Prize honors the artistic achievements of outstanding composers: not awarded as part of a public competition, selected by jury nomination. The four Special Prizes aim to initiate and support new projects, and are geared above all to young composers of electronic and acousmatic music.
The Giga-Hertz Award honors the world-famous physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894), who taught at the Karlsruhe technical university where he discovered electromagnetic waves at the end of the nineteenth century.
The award for electronic and acousmatic composition is unique in Germany and underlines the importance of electronic music: the award is supported by the most important German studios for electronic music – the SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO in Freiburg and the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics (IMA) in Karlsruhe.
Innovations in composition often arise out of the combination of sound gesture and physical movements. Dance and contemporary music are examples for this since Igor Strawinskys „Le sacre du printemps“ or John Cages works for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. But how can the relation between dance and contemporary music be defined seeing interactive media in our 21st century?
The patron Walter Fink tries to find answers to this question by founding the „Walter-Fink-Award of the ZKM for Dance, Electronacoustic Music and Media“ for the Institute for Music and Acoustics of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media. Electronic and electroacoustic music, new media and dance/body shall go into a symbiosis and bring together creature movements with advanced sound processing and performance techniques. Within this adjustment, the human body shall be the creative element, which, through the choreography, controls and creates the art in the moment of the performance.
The award has been advertised internationally in 2009 for the first time. The prize with a sum of 10.000 EUR goes similarly to the group of artists, including composer, choreographer, media artists and represents the basis for a new yet to be realised project.