Rhinegold Photo credit: Simon Jay Price

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Winners of RPS Music Awards 2017 revealed

10:30, 9th May 2017

The winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards 2017 were announced in a ceremony at London’s Brewery on 9 May.

The awards recognise outstanding musical achievement across the UK in 2016, with projects, artists and organisations from across the UK receiving accolades.

Soprano Karita Mattila, violinist James Ehnes, conductor Richard Farnes and pianist Joseph Middleton took home top individual RPS Music Awards, with Farnes receiving additional praise for his part in Opera North’s Ring Cycle, which won the award for opera and music theatre.

Rebecca Saunders won her third RPS Music Award for Skin, becoming the RPS’s most decorated female composer. The other composer to receive an award was Philip Venables, whose opera 4.48 Psychosis was named best large-scale composition.

Both the Lammermuir and East Neuk Festivals picked up prizes, with the former winning the concert series and festivals category and the second the audiences and engagement award for David Lang’s Memorial Ground, a collaboration with 14-18 NOW.

Other winners include Edward Dusinberre, who received the creative communication award for his book on playing Beethoven with the Takács Quartet; Manchester Camerata, which received the ensemble prize; and the South-West Open Youth Orchestra, the UK’s first disabled-led youth orchestra, which won the learning and participation category.

The ceremony also saw veteran filmmaker Barrie Gavin, who has made more than 200 films about music and more than 250 live relays of performances, made an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

The RPS citation read: ‘Barrie Gavin has spent a lifetime single-mindedly documenting the arts through film: above all classical music, with the composers of today as an overriding priority. The hallmarks of his work are the care and attention to detail which he invests in each and every subject, and his ability to demonstrate insightful authority and profound understanding, while always allowing the music to speak for itself.’

Pianist Stephen Hough presented the awards and gave the evening’s keynote speech. Stressing the importance of giving everyone the chance to experience classical music, Hough also noted that we should accept that ‘in the end some people will just not respond to this art form we love – and that’s just fine.’

The evening also included a video message from Thomas Quasthoff and a performance from Fretwork, and saw the Royal Philharmonic Society launch its #LiveMusicIs campaign, which features words chosen by musicians and music lovers across the UK reflecting their feelings about the special quality of the live music experience.

‘This year’s RPS Music Award winners take no prisoners, united in their excellence and their commitment to removing barriers to listening or participation in classical music,’ said RPS chair John Gilhooly. ‘The awards celebrate live music of extraordinary quality and ambition, taking place across the width and breadth of the country (closer to home than many might think). I’d urge those who have yet to experience its multifarious pleasures to get out there and listen and make music, in the moment, of the moment. Live Music Is… more vibrant than ever.’

A special programme dedicated to the RPS Music Awards, featuring highlights from the ceremony, interviews and music, will be broadcast on Radio 3 at 7.30pm on 14 May.


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