The Royal Philharmonic Society handed its most prestigious honour, the Gold Medal, to pianist Mitsuko Uchida yesterday evening. In a warm and self-deprecating speech, the Japanese-born, now London-based, musician spoke of her career as a journey of trying to play a little better, and gave comfort to the rest of us when she described her idea of musical bliss as playing new pieces badly at home.
The prize was given at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, the annual celebration of UK live classical music, held at the Dorchester Hotel. Other winners of the evening included tenor Toby Spence who collected the Singer Award, and composers Jonathan Harvey and Sally Beamish who received the honours in, respectively, the Large-Scale and Chamber-Scale Composition categories. Anton Lukoszevieze, founder of contemporary ensemble Apartment House, collected the Chamber Music prize for performances of John Cage’s music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Other Award recipients included, in the Conductor category, Claudio Abbado, and in the Instrumentalist category Maurizio Pollini.
The keynote speech was given by Gareth Malone, in which he talked of the importance of participation in music in encouraging and developing tomorrow's performers and audiences. For a full list of winners visit the RPS Awards website - and you can listen to a programme devoted to the Awards on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday May 13, at 2pm.