RPS honours classical game-changers

Martin Cullingford Fri 29th November 2019

Chineke! and the Bournemouth Symphony among those recognised at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's Resound was among the evening's winners

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's Resound was among the evening's winners

The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards routinely shine a light on British artists and organisations who respond to the question 'who is classical music for?' with a passionate answer of 'for everyone'. This year was no exception.

Among the winners at the annual celebration of live music-making were the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, given the Impact Award for Change Makers and Resound, which included the establishment of the first professional disabled-led ensemble.

Meanwhile, Chineke! – Britain’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra – was given the inaugural Gamechanger Award, established to honour 'inspirational and transformative work breaking new ground in classical music'.

The RPS Gold Medal was given to the composer Sofia Gubaidulina, in recognition her profoundly spiritual compositions. In a speech on receiving the Award, the 88-year-old composer reflected: ‘This award is especially precious because it comes as we are preparing to celebrate the 250th birthday of Beethoven. To that great composer belongs the merit of affirming in his work the love of harmony – which is the true meaning of the word "Philharmonic". Let us hope that this may be a unique moment in the history of music - when growth for all mankind can really be achieved through works of art.’

The first female composer to receive the Award, Gubaidulina joins a list of recipients stretching back to 1870 which includes Dame Janet Baker (who presented her with the Award), Jessye Norman (last year's recipient), Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Kathleen Ferrier, Edward Elgar and Johannes Brahms. You can read Gramophone's portrait of Sofia Gubaidulina and her music here: Contemporary Composer: Sofia Gubaidulina

Two further British organisations which build bridges between world-leading artists and local musicians in the community were honoured. Birmingham Opera Company won the Opera and Music Theatre category for its staging of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, while Sir James MacMillan’s Ayrshire festival The Cumnock Tryst won the Concert Series and Events category.

Other winners on the night included composers Tansy Davies and Rebecca Saunders, conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, violinist Alina Ibragimova and author Oliver Soden, recognised for his critically acclaimed biography of Michael Tippett. For a full list of winners, visit the RPS website.

Highlights from the ceremony will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday December 1, at 8.45pm. 

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