The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) and Association of British Orchestras (ABO) have announced the winner of their annual Orchestra Musician of the Year. And the award this year goes to Chris Stock, principal percussionist of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (NOW).


The annual award sets out to recognise 'the extraordinary orchestral musicians working in Britain today' each year, orchestras are invited to nominate one of their musicians for an expert panel to consider.

‘Chris has been a star player and stalwart presence in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for some decades,' said RPS Chief Executive James Murphy at the ceremony, held at Cardiff's St David’s Hall. 'He’s a cherished section leader and he’s devoted to community and to education, lending his time and skills and enthusiasm to inspire others.'

In 2015, the BBC NOW toured to South America. During the tour, the orchestra met and engaged hundreds of Patagonian children in musical workshops. Seeing how enlivened they were by just a suitcase of percussionist instruments brought from Wales, Chris and his fellow players decided to do everything they could to find and collect unused instruments back home and get them into the hands of South American children. The orchestra created the Patagonia Instrument Project, which to date has sent over £60,000 worth of musical instruments to the region.

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And the 2022 Orchestra Musician of the Year is
Chris Stock leading a workshop with children in Patagonia

Chris has been particularly involved with the project. For example, in Spring 2021, a forest fire caused major destruction to the Patagonian town of El Hoyo. Within three weeks, mobilising support in the UK and across South America, Chris had found ways to replace all the children’s instruments lost to the fire.

James concluded: 'This whole endeavour is such a powerful illustration of the great things that can happen when the UK exports its cultural treasures – like this orchestra – worldwide, and above all, what a remarkable force for good orchestral musicians are in our lives.’

You can read more about Chris and the charity which he and his fellow musicians have created on the Patagonia Instrument Project website.

Also specially commended by this year’s judging panel was Sonia Sielaff, sub-principal clarinet of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who was nominated by her colleagues for her courageous and inspirational efforts of the last year. Following a life-saving liver transplant in 2018, Sonia’s planned return to orchestral life was abruptly halted by the pandemic. Even as streamed concerts ensued, Sonia could not participate out of a responsibility to shield herself: instead, she applied herself wholeheartedly to a range of other specially-made digital offerings for the orchestra’s audience. She was eventually able to return to the orchestra for their recording of the Sibelius symphonies last summer.

The RPS ABO Orchestra Musician Award was originally called the Salomon Prize in recognition of violinist Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815), who did so much to enrich the impact of classical music in Britain. Salomon is perhaps best known for encouraging Haydn to come to Britain: as such, he was an important influence in the creation of the Haydn London symphonies: however, he was also the RPS' co-founder.

All ABO member orchestras are invited to nominate a player for the award each year. You can see details of all previous winners on the RPS website.


Photo of Christ Stock by Yusef Bastawy


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.