At this critical time for the Arts, there has never been a more important moment to champion the worth of classical music. Today, the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) announces the shortlist for its 2020 Awards, illuminating the vital role that classical music plays, inspiring and empowering countless lives nationwide.
In this highly unusual year, the RPS Awards have adapted to reflect not only great achievements up till so much music ceased in March, but remarkable musical deeds that have since emerged in lockdown.
The shortlists revealed for 11 of the Awards illustrate the range and reach of classical music:
- Multiple nominees prove the positive social effect of classical music, empowering stroke victims in Hull (RPO Strokestra), teenagers with mental health issues (Sound Young Minds), and families impacted by the criminal justice system (The Lullaby Project).
- Nominees from the City of London Sinfonia to tenor Nicky Spence are especially commended for imaginatively reinventing their approach, creating new ways to inspire audiences in lockdown.
- Classical music abounds nationally with multiple nominees in Yorkshire (Ryedale Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, RPO Strokestra in Hull), Glasgow (Scottish Opera, Scottish Ensemble), as well as Manchester Collective, Cheltenham Music Festival, Garsington Opera in Buckinghamshire, and the pride of Wales: Swansea-born soprano Natalya Romaniw.
- The 18 performers and composers shortlisted range in age from 21 (cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason) to 77 (composer Frank Denyer), and 33% of them are people of colour.
Today’s announcement also brings an update on a timely new award:
- The new ‘Inspiration’ Award will honour the extraordinary music-making that has uplifted the nation in lockdown. For this, the RPS opened nominations to the public for the first time, inviting households nationally to share what has moved them musically since March. An unprecedented 2,600 nominations were received, and the RPS will announce six winners of this special award alongside all other award recipients in November.
Winners will be announced at the 2020 RPS Awards digital broadcast at 7.00pm on Wednesday 18 November on the RPS website. Filmed at London’s Wigmore Hall and presented by BBC Radio 3’s Georgia Mann, it will feature performances by several nominees. Longstanding RPS Awards partner BBC Radio 3 will then present a musical celebration of the RPS Awards winners at 7.30pm on Monday 23 November.
The Awards digital broadcast will also feature a very special guest appearance by a much-loved international musician, set to receive this year’s RPS Gold Medal, the highest honour in music, awarded to outstanding musicians since 1870 from Brahms, Elgar and Bernstein, to Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Jessye Norman and – most recently – Sofia Gubaidulina.
RPS Chief Executive James Murphy says: ‘The RPS Awards have always shone a light on great musical achievements, but now that light is a beacon: reminding the nation of the essential, invigorating, connective force that classical music is for so many people. The nominees represent a nation of selfless, inspirational musicians, and a picture of all that risks being lost if they cannot wholly return to work soon.‘