Winners have been announced of the Royal Philharmonic Society [RPS] Music Awards, the UK’s most prestigious awards for live classical music, presented in association with BBC Radio 3 (Evening - Tuesday 8 May, Dorchester Hotel).
Conductor Claudio Abbado and pianist Maurizio Pollini were the big name winners on a night that celebrated revelatory live music making. Pianist Mitsuko Uchida was presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, the society’s (and one of classical music’s) highest honours. Wins for composers Jonathan Harvey and Sally Beamish, cellist Oliver Coates and chamber ensemble Apartment House made it a strong night for contemporary classical music. East London’s Spitalfields Music was the night’s only double-winner, honoured for a pioneering community opera and a ‘route one’ ticket scheme that encourages ticket buyers to their two annual festivals to ‘gift’ a second ticket to a first time attender. The National Youth Choir of Scotland became the first large choir to scoop the coveted Ensemble Award.
The awards, for outstanding achievement in 2011, were presented at the Dorchester Hotel by BBC Radio 3’s Katie Derham and Petroc Trelawny. Tenor John Mark Ainsley, himself a former RPS Music Award winner, presented the silver lyre trophies, and Gareth Malone gave the evening’s keynote speech, talking of the public’s perception of classical music and the importance of participation. RPS Chairman, John Gilhooly, referring to the founding aims of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which celebrates its bicentenary in 2013, spoke of the need to encourage ‘an appreciation by the public in the art of music’. Pointing to the outstanding work of the night’s winners, he called on classical music not to “underplay our strengths…. We are trying to create extraordinary artistic experiences with one eye on the bank balance and the other on the political agenda. However, as the cultural imperative becomes increasingly squeezed by economic and social concerns, there has never been a more important time to unite, and to speak with one voice.”
A special RPS Music Awards programme will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 13 May at 2pm.