The program began with Salonen receiving the award. He then read some prepared remarks regarding inspiration and creativity through the example of music composition. He emphasized how music is something that is emotional, raw, and organic and cannot be based on music theory or mathematical formulas alone.
After the film, Salonen took several questions from the audience. One person asked him what it is like for him to conduct his own new compositions, and he responded by relating how difficult first rehearsals of any new works are for even experienced and renowned music groups. He then related some words of wisdom that a music teacher of his had told him regarding this subject, that a conductor should never go to the first rehearsal, but if he does, he should not go sober. In response to another question, he emphasized that music cannot be created in a vacuum but is inherently influenced by all the music that has come before it. In this way, 'old' music is very integral to the creation of new music. He concluded the talk by relating how commissioning is so essential for music composers in that such a great deal of time goes into the creation of a single piece of music that very little music can be created without it. It is essential to the continued creation of new music, and monetary awards like the Grawemeyer Award are also extremely important for the same reason.