The winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards were announced on 10 May.
The ceremony, which was held at The Brewery, City of London, was hosted by Radio 3 presenters Suzy Klein and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, and included performances from Roderick Williams and Roger Vignoles, young members of Chineke!, and performers from the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
Multi-Story won the audiences and engagement award for the ‘ingenuity, simplicity and impact in the local community’ of its 2015 concert season, staged in the Bold Tendencies car park in Peckham, South London. ‘It’s tempting to say that winning this award means that we can play in a decent concert hall,’ joked conductor Chris Stark, accepting the trophy.
The instrumentalist award went to Daniil Trifonov, who was commended by the jury for his ‘technical brilliance, deep musicality and a fearless sense of adventure’. Fellow pianist Clare Hammond won the young artist award in recognition of her ‘commitment to new repertoire, talent for creating inventive programmes and her compelling presence as a performer’.
Described as ‘a consummate artist and a singer with whom composers and fellow musicians find it a joy to work’ for whom 2015 was a ‘remarkably wide-ranging year of song’, baritone Roderick Williams (pictured above) won the singer award.
‘A beacon of excellence for decades’, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain won the ensemble award for its campaigns to ‘inspire and engage hundreds more teenagers’ at a time ‘when music has such a precarious place in the schools’ curriculum’.
The Carducci String Quartet took home the RPS Music Award for chamber music and song for an ‘heroic challenge’: its 2015 complete cycle of Shostakovich quartets. The judges described the project as ‘great performances of great chamber music taken to venues that had not heard the like before’. Accepting their award, leader Matthew Denton quipped: ‘The audience were cheering us on like we were running the London Marathon or something!’
Composers Julian Anderson and Luca Francesconi won the two composition prizes. Anderson’s Van Gogh Blue, described as ‘chamber music of exceptional quality […] which leads the listener in unexpected directions’ won the chamber-scale composition category; Francesconi’s flamenco-inspired violin concerto Duende: The Dark Notes – a ‘white knuckle ride of dramatic intent’ – won the ‘hotly contested’ large-scale composition category.
Tri-borough Music Hub won the learning and participation award for Seven Seeds (music John Barber; libretto Hazel Gould), a retelling of the Persephone myth which involved 1200 young singers and performers from three London boroughs alongside several leading ensembles and left ‘a musical legacy of excellence’.
Kings Place took home the RPS Music Award for concert series and festivals for its ‘coming of age’ 40-concert series Minimalism Unwrapped.
Michael Church, editor of The Other Classical Musics (Boydell Press) collected the award for creative communication. The jury described the book as ‘a passport to new horizons [which will] rouse your appetite to explore new horizons’.
Glyndebourne Festival Opera won the opera and music theatre award for Barry Kosky’s ‘brilliantly imaginative’ staging of Handel’s Saul.
Opera director Graham Vick was awarded honorary membership of the RPS. The jury’s citation stated that Vick ‘has single-handedly changed the way we think about opera […] He has taken opera out of the opera house and revitalised the repertoire, creating productions that engage both operatic new comers and the most hardened devotees.’
In his impassioned keynote speech, Vick urged opera companies to get out of their ‘ghetto’ where they are protected by concepts of excellence and artistic integrity and in order to find new audiences.
He said: ‘As artists, our challenge is not how to give but how to give back – and I mean give back to everyone across our increasingly complex and rich melting pot of peoples. Music effects change by touching humanity. Through music we can harness and share the richness of cultural background and identity, the breadth of life experience and alternative perspectives available in our expanding communities and enrich all our understanding.’
Photos: Simon Jay Price