Conductor Daniel Barenboim, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and composer Harrison Birtwistle were among those honoured at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards in London last night.
Daniel Barenboim made history with his complete Ring at the BBC Proms last year. ‘It was as though we were hearing a performance of the Ring Cycle that had been rehearsed for twenty years’, said Janis Susskind, Managing Director of Boosey & Hawkes and a member of the 2014 jury. ‘It was a fully-mature, absolutely perfectly paced and balanced performance that gripped from start to finish.’
Joyce DiDonato received an award for her interpretation of Rossini whilst violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja scooped the instrumentalist award. Igor Levit took the young artist prize after being universally praised for his debut disc of Beethoven’s late piano sonatas.
Composers Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin both took away awards for their visionary compositions: The Moth Requiem and Written On Skin respectively.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman of the RPS John Gilhooly, said: ‘2013 was a great year for classical music in the UK … Work on and off the stage embraced new technology, and it was a year when distinguished names lined up alongside astounding younger talent, making the way to a bright, adventurous future for classical music.’
BBC Radio 3 controller Roger Wright commented: ‘It is good for BBC Radio 3, home of classical music, to be in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society again, as we celebrate another terrific year of classical music. The range of this year’s awards is another sign of the high quality in live music making and new work.’
He continued: ‘We are thrilled to have broadcast so much of the award-winning music and performers and, in particular, to have been responsible through the BBC Proms fpr the remarkable Ring cycle conducted by Daniel Barenboim.’
English bass Sir John Tomlinson attended the ceremony to collect the RPS Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in music.
Scroll down for a full list of winners.
Harrison Birtwistle collects the award for chamber-scale composition for The Moth Requiem (photo: Simon Jay Price)
John Gilhooly presents Sir John Tomlinson with the RPS Gold Medal (photo: Simon Jay Price)
RPS AWARDS 2014 – FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
The RPS jury has described Barenboim’s Ring cycle at the Proms as ‘the musical experience of a lifetime for the thousands who heard it live and on air’, praising it for ‘an unerring sense of pace, thrilling drama, and the subtle ebb and flow of a conductor and orchestra performing as one.’
Audience and engagement: Britten100
The RPS jury praises Britten100, curated by the Britten-Pears Foundation, for the ‘scale, ambition and diversity’ with which it unified the 2013 Britten centenary celebrations under one brand.
Chamber music and song: Champs Hill
Champs Hill are awarded for providing ‘holistic support for chamber music and song’ with its West Sussex venue, The Music Room. Its record label also garners high praise, for ‘nurturing young talent’.
Chamber-scale composition: Harrison Birtwistle’s The Moth Requiem
‘Exciting to experience, with textures that enticed and ravished the ear’ is how the Jury describes Birtwistle’s piece for chamber choir. ‘It is a wholly individual work, completely redolent of the composer’s style’.
Concert series and festivals: Southbank’s The Rest Is Noise
It was the ‘generous curatorial spirit’ and ‘rich and intelligent programming’ of the Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise festival that captured the jury’s imagination. The panel describes it as ‘an outstanding, bold concept’.
Creative communication: Touchpress’s classical music iPad apps
Touchpress has produced three classical music apps for iPad that the RPS feels represent ‘a new pinnacle in the marriage of performance, interpretation and new technology.’
Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
The jury describes the LPO’s decision to devote an entire season to 20th-century music as ‘courageous’ and state that with it ‘they proved that taking risks can win an audiences loyalty.’
Instrumentalist: Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja is praised for being ‘passionate, challenging and totally original in her approach’ in her performances of new and established works.
Large-scale composition: George Benjamin’s Written on Skin
Also a BBC Music Magazine award-winner this year, Benjamin’s Written On Skin has also scooped an RPS award, praised for ‘vividly colourful orchestration’ and its emotional impact.
Learning and participation: Glyndebourne’s Imago
The community opera Imago, commissioned by Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera, tackles questions of ages and digital worlds. In its citation the jury describes it as a ‘striking’ and ‘ambitious’ opera that achieves excellence.
Opera and music theatre: Welsh National Opera
The WNO’s productions of three contrasted operas, Lulu, Lohengrin and Paul Bunyan, demonstrate ‘the highest musical and theatrical standard’ according to the jury.
Singer: Joyce DiDonato
The RPS jury describes Joyce DiDonato as ‘a supreme exponent of the art of bel canto’, praising her recent performances in Rossini’s Donna del Lago and at the 2013 Last Night of the Proms.
Young artist: Igor Levit
‘Igor Levit is an exceptionally gifted musician’, the jury states. The Russian pianist has garnered high praise for his late Beethoven sonatas disc and accompanying recitals.