Iván Fischer honoured at RPS Awards

Hungarian conductor leads prestigious list of winners

Conductor Iván Fischer, violinist Alina Ibragimova and the Takacs Quartet are among the leading performers celebrating success this evening at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, presented for excellence in live performance.

Fischer took the Conductor award ahead of fellow nominees Semyon Bychkov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Ever inventive, the Hungarian wowed audiences this year with a Beethoven Symphony cycle that alternated the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a period instrument ensemble, with his own modern-instrument Budapest Festival Orchestra.

‘I’m really deeply and very, very happy about this wonderful gift,’ Fischer tells BBC Music Magazine. ‘For me, the Beethoven cycle was a very special experience, because it gave me a lot of thoughts about playing Beethoven on period and modern instruments. It was a very exciting experiment. I don’t feel like a ping pong ball bouncing between the two extremes, but instead am learning something about what the orchestra of the future will be like.’

In other categories, Ibragimova, praised by the RPS Awards jury for ‘displaying artistic integrity across a broad range of repertoire’, was presented with the Young Artist award, while the Takacs Quartet were singled out for the Chamber Music and Song award for a Beethoven cycle at the Southbank that the jury described as a ‘tour de force’. And while Bychkov may have missed out on the Conductor award, his performance of Wagner’s Tannhaüser at the Royal Opera House took the Opera and Music Theatre award.

The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards have been running since 1989 and are traditionally presented in May at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The Society itself is arguably the most prestigious of its kind in the world – founded in 1813, the works it has commissioned include Beethoven’s Choral and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphonies.

For full details of the awards, including an interview with Iván Fischer, see the June issue of BBC Music Magazine, out now. In the meantime, here is the list of this year’s winners:

Audience Development
ENO: new audience initiatives

Chamber Music and Song
Takacs Quartet

Chamber-Scale Composition
Brian Ferneyhough String Quartet No. 6

Concert Series and Festivals
Southbank Centre: Helmut Lachenmann Weekend

Conductor
Iván Fischer

Creative Communication
BBC4: Opera Italia

Education
Sing Up

Ensemble
Aurora Orchestra

Instrumentalist
Leon Fleisher

Large-Scale Composition
James Dillon: Nine Rivers

Opera and Music Theatre
The Royal Opera: Tannhäuser

Singer
Susan Bickley

Young Artists
Alina Ibragimova