Oliver Knussen has been presented with the Conductor award at the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards. The British maestro, who was shortlisted alongside younger conductors Kirill Karabits and Andris Nelsons, received his award towards the end of a lively evening at London’s Dorchester Hotel where the mood of anticipation was heightened further by news of and speculation among guests about the goings-on at Westminster a couple of miles down the road.
Knussen, whose award was supported by BBC Music Magazine, wasn’t the only leading conductor honoured on the night. Esa-Pekka Salonen came up onto the stage not once but twice to collect the Audience Development and Creative Communication awards for the Philharmonia’s re-rite project, in which members of the public were able to experience virtually what it is like to play in one of the world’s top orchestras.
Other notable winners included the pianist Stephen Hough, who due to other commitments was unable to pick up his Instrumentalist award in person, and the late Philip Langridge, whose Singer award was received by his wife, mezzo-soprano Ann Murray, who in a moving speech revealed how the tenor had been delighted to hear of the honour shortly before he died in March.
Lighter hearted moments, meanwhile, were provided by artist Grayson Perry, the speaker for the evening, who urged the audience to continue to dare to be different, and by countertenor Iestyn Davies, who apologised for his hairstyle while collecting his Young Artist award.
Full details of all the winners of the RPS Awards, including an interview with Knussen, can be found in the June 2010 issue of BBC Music Magazine.