The winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2019 were revealed last night (Thursday 28 November) at a ceremony in Battersea Arts Centre, London.
The coveted RPS Gold Medal was presented to Tartar-Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina in tribute to her long and illustrious compositional career as one of the leading representatives of new music in Russia. Accepting the award, Gubaidulina said: ‘This award is especially precious because it comes as we are preparing to celebrate the 250th birthday of Beethoven. To that great composer belongs the merit of affirming in his work the love of harmony – which is the true meaning of the word “Philharmonic”.’
Every award presented to an individual artist this year was given to a female musician: violinist Alina Ibragimova won the Instrumentalist Award and soprano Nina Stemme won the Singer Award for her performance as Brünnhilde in the Royal Opera House’s production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, won the Conductor Award, an award sponsored by BBC Music Magazine – look out for our interview with Gražinytė-Tyla in our January 2020 issue.
For the first time in the 30-year history of the Awards, both of the awards dedicated to composition were given to women. Rebecca Saunders won the Large-Scale Composition Award for her work Yes and Tansy Davies won the Chamber-Scale Composition Award for her work Cave.
Chineke!, the first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra established in the UK, was the first ever recipient of the Gamechanger Award, which was established this year to celebrate ground-breaking and transformative work in classical music.
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) Change Makers and Resound received the Impact Award, which recognises an outstanding organisation or initiative that has had a lasting positive effect on people who may not otherwise experience classical music.
The Aurora Orchestra won the Ensemble Award for their command of contemporary repertoire and their outstanding theatricality. Awards were also presented to projects that integrated local communities with the finest professional musicians. The Birmingham Opera Company’s epic production of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk won the Opera and Music Theatre Award, and The Cumnock Tryst, directed by Scottish composer James MacMillan, won the Concert Series and Events Award.
The Storytelling Award was won by Oliver Soden's biography of the British composer Michael Tippett. And finally, the Castalian String Quartet won the Young Artists Award.
Highlights from the RPS Awards will be broadcast in a special programme on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 1 December at 8:45pm.
Winners in full:
RPS GOLD MEDAL
Tansy Davies Cave
CONCERT SERIES & EVENTS
The Cumnock Tryst
BSO Change Makers and Resound
Alina Ibragimova (violin)
Rebecca Saunders, Yes
OPERA & MUSIC THEATRE
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – Birmingham Opera Company
Nina Stemme (soprano)
Michael Tippett The Biography – Oliver Soden
Castalian String Quartet