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Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2012

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

Presented in association with BBC Radio 3, this year’s RPS Music Awards shortlists, for outstanding achievement in 2011, are drawn from across the UK and feature several major international names.

John Gilhooly, Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, commented:

“The RPS Music Awards allow the classical music world to tell everyone about what we do best. And there is much to celebrate, both in terms of talent and innovation from UK based organisations and artists, and from the international stars who continue to enrich our cultural life so greatly. In the current climate, when the role of culture is being questioned in the face of very real practical considerations, it’s all the more important that we don’t take our rich musical life for granted, but shout loudly about our achievements in the concert hall, and as you will see from these shortlists, well beyond.”

Winners will be announced at the RPS Music Awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday 8 May. A special dedicated RPS Music Awards programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 13 May, 2 pm.

Who’s on the shortlist?

Claudio Abbado is nominated for the RPS Music Award for Conductor for his revelatory performances of Bruckner with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, alongside two conductors who have made significant contributions to two BBC orchestras: Gianandrea Noseda for his final season as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic and Donald Runnicles, for far reaching, adventurous programmes as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and at the BBC Proms and the Aldeburgh Festival.

Two pianists contend for the prestigious RPS Music Award for Instrumentalist: Late-night Liszt at the BBC Proms with Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin and Maurizio Pollini’s five-concert Royal Festival Hall piano recital series encompassing Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy, Boulez, Schumann, Liszt and Stockhausen. German violinist Christian Tetzlaff completes the instrumentalist shortlist, for outstanding 2011 performances with the CBSO, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras.

There’s a distinguished list of contenders for the award for Large-Scale Composition, with Harrison Birtwistle, Graham Fitkin, Jonathan Harvey and previous RPS chamber-scale composition award winner Rebecca Saunders in contention for the prestigious award. The stylistically varied Chamber-Scale Composition award shortlist features Thomas Adès, Sally Beamish, Martin Butler and Gary Carpenter.


Alex Ross: Time to show our appreciation for classical music

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

It’s one of the great ironies of the classical concert experience – the most explosive, exhilarating music is often greeted by total silence. Let our applause be heard, says Alex Ross, who gave the Royal Philharmic Society lecture at the Wigmore Hall, London.

I have a lot of time for Alex Ross, and I say that as someone not massively keen on music journalism. He is a tireless champion of cutting through all the tiresome “traditions” that permeate the environment of “classical” music performance, and which seems so beloved of dullards everywhere. When to clap? What should I wear? And so on.

In “The Rest is Noise” I like the connections Ross makes with jazz and so-called “difficult” modern music. He’s not on virgin territory here: Wilfrid Mellers’ “Music in a New Found Land” pioneered this approach, albeit to American music only. That book however was a drier read; I finished Ross’s book even before it had been published in the UK, and found it to be one of the most readable music histories I’d encountered for a long time.

However, I find myself at odds with his point about how ubiquitous some elements of modernism has become. Whilst he’s not wrong to suggest many modernist touches have become a staple of horror film soundtracks, I think it’s a dangerous route to go down. It gives the impression that much 20th century music is designed simply to be eerie and unsettling. Some of it surely is, but we only need to hear the use of Bartók in Kubrick’s “The Shining” to see how great music can be damned by excursions into popular culture.


Last night’s Royal Philharmonic Society lecture was a tour de force – although a lot of the innovations the critic advocated are already being carried out in the UK

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Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2009

Posted in Books, Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


Congratulations to all the winners:

Audience Development Streetwise Opera: My Secret Heart
Chamber Music Britten Sinfonia Lunchtime Series
Chamber-Scale Composition Harrison Birtwistle: The Tree of Strings
Concert Series and Festivals Ensemble 10/10
Conductor Valery Gergiev
Creative Communication Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise (4th Estate / Harper Perennial)
Education Hackney Music Development Trust: Confucius Says
Ensemble Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Ensemble 10/10
Instrumentalist Janine Jansen
Large-Scale Composition George Benjamin: Into the Little Hill
Opera and Music Theatre English National Opera
Singer Susan Bullock
Young Artist Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Special Award for Services to British Music Richard Hickox (posthumous)

Hats off to Liz Forgan, chair of Arts Council England, who described how her own grandfather had made her listen, aged six, to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

“Throwing children alive into a boiling vat of great music does them no harm at all,” she said. “Give them Birtwistle, Buxtehude, Ligeti, Ockeghem and Beethoven as soon as possible. Give them the best of contemporary music of all sorts. Above all, don’t apologise.”


Raise children on Wagner, urges Arts Council chair Dame Liz Forgan

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