• Nominations for the RPS Awards open today. For more information and to nominate, visit the RPS website
  • A new public-voted Award is announced – inviting nominations for the most inspirational musical achievements during lockdown
  • Winners to be announced as part of a special digital presentation in November

There has scarcely been a more important time to shout out loud why classical music matters.  

The moment lockdown began, musicians nationwide saw their entire livelihood vanish before their eyes and, as social distancing eases very gently, it will be months before the performing arts can resume as before. In this time, many musicians and musical organisations will struggle to keep on, yet remarkably, every day we see them generously, selflessly doing all they can to brighten the nation’s spirits both online and on our doorsteps.

The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards annually celebrate the treasured role that classical music plays in our lives. The RPS regards it as more important than ever that the Awards proceed this year, as a reminder both of the great musical feats achieved before lockdown – of the kind that await us again in future – and also of the truly inventive ways musicians have raised our hopes and kept us smiling in lockdown.

‘Times like these remind us how much we need music,’ says RPS Chairman John Gilhooly OBE. ‘Right now it gives us a sense of hope, adventure and limitless horizons which confinement otherwise denies us. But we risk losing so much of it without greater recognition of its worth and greater government support. Other nations are recognising this, and we must too. Live music and musicians are suffering right now. We need to advocate wherever possible for the value of our artform which comprises some of the greatest triumphs of human creativity. The RPS Awards play a key part in this, but it’s vital that we all speak up for classical music, at this time when cancelled performances and closed venues mean it can hardly speak for itself. Unless we each do what we can to ensure it is valued and supported, these could be the last Royal Philharmonic Society Awards for the foreseeable future.’

Annually, the RPS welcomes nominations for the Awards from Members of the Society and those who work in the classical music profession. This year, in addition to the usual categories, the RPS will present several new Inspiration Awards, for classical musicians, organisations and initiatives that have particularly set out to inspire the nation during lockdown. For these new Awards, the RPS is – for the first time – actively seeking nominations from the public, inviting households nationally to share what has moved them musically since mid-March. It might be an individual or a group – instrumental or vocal, professional or amateur – who found a way to perform something truly special online, who shared their creativity in a fresh format or setting, or who roused others to be more musical themselves in confinement, getting the community singing or playing.

RPS Chief Executive James Murphy says: ‘For the time being, our homes have become the nation’s classical music venues, whether we’re watching performances online or musical neighbours performing out on our streets. It seems right then that the RPS should this year turn to the proprietors and patrons of those homes – the Great British Public – to tell us what musical feats have brightened their days in lockdown. We hope this gets households talking about the music that’s inspired them, and we cannot wait to hear all their thoughts.’

The RPS is now welcoming nominations for all this year’s RPS Awards on its website at royalphilharmonicsociety.org.uk. The closing date for most categories is Tuesday 7 July except for the new Inspiration Awards for which nominations are welcome all summer, until Wednesday 26 August. The shortlisted nominees will be announced in September on BBC Radio 3, a longstanding partner of the RPS Awards. Instead of the usual awards ceremony, winners will be announced in a special RPS Awards Presentation online in November. As soon as social distancing permits, the RPS Awards Celebration will follow: a night of festivity in which music-lovers and music-makers may gather together again to celebrate not only the winners but the enduring worth of classical music in our lives.