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Ben Nevis?

The UK's Royal Philharmonic Society announced its Music Award winners on 9 May 2017 at a ceremony at The Brewery in the City of London. The annual awards, in thirteen categories, decided by independent panels, honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. This year's awards celebrate outstanding achievement in 2016, as viewed by the panel members. The occasion was also used to make a couple of pointed comments concerning the UK's relationship with the European Union and classical music's relationship with young people.

German bass-baritone and RPS gold medallist Thomas Quasthoff (in a recorded message) commented that 'living together in peace is the most important thing', going on to speak of the role of the RPS in 'unifying musicians' and of the importance of a 'borderless Europe so that we can enjoy the music and friendship of different countries and cultures.'

Pianist Stephen Hough, who made presentations to the winners, spoke passionately about the importance of giving everyone the chance to experience classical music, and to ensure that opportunity is not denied through social or financial exclusion. He also cautioned underselling the complexities of classical music, especially to young people, commenting that 'We invite them to climb Primrose Hill when they are ready for Ben Nevis'.

The RPS Music Award winners are as follows:

The Audiences and Engagement award was given to East Neuk Festival, in collaboration with 14-18 NOW, for Memorial Ground.

The Chamber Music and Song award was given to Fretwork.

The Chamber-Scale Composition award was won by Rebecca Saunders' work Skin.

The Concert Series and Festivals award went to Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian, Scotland.

The Conductor award was taken by Richard Farnes, the music director of Opera North.

Creative Communication award: Edward Dusinberre, leader of the Takacs Quartet, for his book Beethoven for a Later Age

Ensemble award: Manchester Camerata

Instrumentalist award: violinist James Ehnes

Large-Scale Composition: Philip Venables, for 4.48 Psychosis

Learning and Participation: South-West Open Youth Orchestra

Opera and Music Theatre: Opera North, for the completion of its Ring Cycle

Singer: Finnish soprano Karita Mattila

Young Artist: pianist Joseph Middleton

In addition to the awards, film-maker Barrie Gavin joins a long list of notable individuals who have been given Honorary RPS membership. Other recent honorary memberships have been awarded to José Antonio Abreu, Brian McMaster, Graham Johnson, Fanny Waterman, George Benjamin, Tony Fell, Mark Elder, John Stephens, Ahmad Sarmast, Rosemary Nalden, Aaron Dworkin, Ricardo Castro, Armand Diangienda, Martin Campbell-White, Marin Alsop, Evelyn Glennie and Graham Vick. Over more than two centuries of existence of the RPS (which commissioned Beethoven's Choral Symphony), honorary memberships have also been received by Rossini, Brahms, Clara Schumann, Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Paul Sacher and Evelyn Barbirolli (Rothwell).

Information: royalphilharmonicsociety.org.uk

Posted: 15 May 2017

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