Showing posts with label RPS Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RPS Awards. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy 200th to the RPS

It's not often that you find yourself choking up with emotion in the middle of the Dorchester Ballroom. But yesterday, the annual Royal Philharmonic Society Awards evening saw many of us doing just that as the organisation - currently celebrating its 200th birthday - awarded five honorary memberships to movers and shakers who have been bringing the power of music to bear in the direction of societal transformation in some of the most deprived and dangerous places in the world.

From Kinshasa to Kabul, Soweto to the Sphinx organisation in the US, and a former Leeds Piano Competition winner who's now devoting himself to a youth music programme in his native Brazil, these inspirational figures set an example to us all.

They are:
►  Armand Diangienda, a former airline pilot who founded a symphony orchestra in one of the poorest cities on earth, Kinshasa, DR of the Congo (pictured above. The gentleman on his left is Sir Vernon Ellis, chair of the British Council.)
►  Dr Ahmad Sarmast, the founder of Afghanistan’s first national music school in Kabul
►  Rosemary Nalden, British viola player and founder of Buskaid, who persuaded distinguished musicians to busk at British railway stations to raise funds for a string project in South Africa, and now directs the thriving stringed instrument school in Diepkloof, Soweto.
►  Ricardo Castro, International pianist (and former winner of the Leeds Piano Competition) who established a flourishing youth music programme in Bahià, Brazil.
Aaron P. Dworkin, the founder of the Sphinx Organization, which gives opportunities and assistance to aspiring Black and Latino musicians in the USA. Sphinx’s mission is for classical music to embrace the diversity inherent in the society that it strives to serve.

The roster of annual awards turned up some truly wonderful winners as well, not least the utterly fabulous Sarah Connolly, piano star Steven Osborne (I had a lovely chat with his mum), the Britten Sinfonia which scooped the ensemble prize against competitions from such august institutions as the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the composers Rebecca Saunders and Gerald Barry, Birmingham Opera Company's Stockhausen Mittwoch aus Licht world premiere last summer, New Music 20X12, and much more. The full list is here and you can catch up with it all on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday afternoon.

Suffice it to say that the evening grew merrier and merrier as it went along. Whoops of joy emanated from the Scunthorpe table when the beautiful Cycle Song community opera proved triumphant; the Heath Quartet's thank-you video made in Mexico City inspired some ongoing quips about tequila from our comperes, the indefatigable Sean Rafferty and Sara Mohr-Pietsch - hope you found some, Sean! And it was glorious to see Dame Janet Baker in full radiance presenting the awards (pictured, left).

Special thanks to the Dorchester for catering so attentively for those of us who can't eat gluten.

Thank you, Royal Philharmonic Society, for your tireless support for the transformative and spiritually nourishing powers of classical music both here and around the world. And thanks, not least, for commissioning Beethoven's Ninth. Here's to the next 200 years!

Friday, April 12, 2013

RPS Awards promise a fine vintage for 2012

I was on BBC Radio 3's In Tune yesterday, talking to Sean Rafferty about the just-announced shortlist for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards. It's chock-full of great people and projects, with what seems an unusually high quotient of British nominees - the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, I suspect. And proof, as if it were needed, that if you invest £s in culture, as in sport, you can get some extremely good results. British artists really had a chance to shine last year. Vital not to forget this now that that particular heady bonanza is gone. A fitting treat, too, for the RPS, which celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2013. UK listeners can hear the programme here for 6 more days.

Full RPS Awards shortlist is here. Highlights include a Singers shortlist of Sarah Connolly, Alice Coote, Bryan Hymel and Bryn Terfel, Conductors Kirill Karabits, Andris Nelsons and Richard Farnes, Composers established and new, Operas highly contemporary, and many more projects with a plethora of Olympic and educational associations. Daniil Trifonov puts in a particularly welcome appearance on the Young Artists shortlist.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday catch-up and Friday historical...

Busy patch. Here are some highlights of days past and the weekend ahead.

>> I was on BBC Radio 4's Front Row the other day, in discussion with Klaus Heymann, founder of Naxos Records, about the way the record industry has changed since the company launched 25 years ago. If you missed it, you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer until Tuesday:

>> Pianist Anthony Hewitt, "The Olympianist", has set off on his big ride from Land's End to John O'Groats and was lucky enough to encounter a strong west tail wind to get things started. He made it from kick-off to Truro in three hours, with his trusty BeethoVan close behind. Follow his progress via his website here. He's already raised more than £4000 for his seven musical and sporting charities.

>> The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday night at the Dorchester. Highlights included a gold medal for Mitsuko Uchida, whose speech was as vivid and genuine as her playing. So was Gareth Malone's - as keynote speaker he was gloriously positive. We are representing the best music in the world, so let's celebrate that! He stopped short of getting us all to sing, though. Maurizio Pollini was Instrumentalist of the Year and Claudio Abbado scooped the Conductor prize. Cellist Olly Coates was selected as Young Artist, heading off extraordinary competition from a shortlist that also included Benjamin Grosvenor and Sophie Bevan. It was an extremely good night for ENO, which won the Opera award for its Eugene Onegin. With them was Toby Spence, who won Singer of the Year, a prize that incidentally was decided upon well before the distressing news reached anybody that he has been having treatment for thyroid cancer. He tells me he is on the mend, supported by a superb team of doctors and vocal coaches. And he was wearing some spectacular leopard-print shoes. A fine time was had by one and all. Full list of winners here. A Radio 3 broadcast is coming up on

>> I've just attended a special screening of John Bridcut's new documentary about Delius. It's fabulous. Exquisitely shot, full of insights and containing one or two considerable surprises - not least, some unfamiliar music that has no business being as neglected as it is. A few familiar faces on board, too (hello, Aarhus!). Don't miss it. It will be on BBC4 on 25 May.

>> My latest piece for The Spectator Arts Blog is about the unstoppable rise of the modern counter-tenor. I asked Iestyn Davies to explain to us how That Voice works. Read the whole thing here.

>> Tomorrow the LSO is giving a free concert in Trafalgar Square, complete with Valery Gergiev on the podium. Expect lots of Stravinsky, big screens and a London backdrop second to none. And the weather forecast says that, for once, it is NOT going to rain. Even Prince Charles will tell you so. Apparently he's always wanted to be a weatherman. Now his guest appearance on BBC Scotland has gone viral...

>> On Sunday Roxanna Panufnik has the world premiere of her new choral piece Love Endureth at Westminster Cathedral, during Vespers, 3.30pm. You don't have to be Catholic to go in. Here's an interview with her about this multi-faith project that I wrote a few weeks back - for the JC.

>> Apparently Roman Polanski is making a film about the Dreyfus Case. In the Guardian he comments: "one can show its absolute relevance to what is happening in today's world – the age-old spectacle of the witch hunt on a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups and a rabid press." (Quite.)

And so to Friday Historical. Tomorrow is Gabriel Fauré's birthday. Here is Samson François playing the Nocturne No.6 in D flat.