2019 RPS Award winners announced

The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards took place last night (Thursday) at Battersea Arts Centre and the winners reflected a positive picture of inclusivity in classical music.

Bekki Bemrose
  • By Bekki Bemrose
  • 29 Nov 2019
  • min read
The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards took place last night (Thursday) at Battersea Arts Centre and the winners reflected a positive picture of inclusivity in classical music.

The ceremony marked the 30th anniversary of the awards and Britain’s first majority black and minority ethnic orchestra Chineke! were honoured with the first-ever Gamechanger Award.

The new award celebrates inspirational and transformative work breaking new ground in classical music

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) Change Makers and Resound were another big winner on the night, taking home the Impact Award.

The Impact Award is designed to recognise an outstanding initiative or organisation that has a lasting positive impact for people who may not otherwise experience classical music.

Elsewhere, female musicians were celebrated across every individual artist category and Sofia Gubaidulina was the recipient of the coveted RPS Gold Medal.

The RPS Gold Medal has been awarded since 1870 and this marks the very first time it has been received by a female composer.

The awards are presented in association with BBC Radio 3, who will broadcast highlights from the event on Sunday 1 December.

The 30th anniversary of the awards also coincides with the Society launching the RPS Membership.

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, founder and artistic & executive director of Chineke! says: ‘It is a great honour for Chineke! to receive the first RPS Gamechanger Award. For Chineke!'s work across the UK to have been recognised is a huge accolade and we will be proud champions of everything that the RPS stands for as we continue with our mission of "championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music.”’

Dougie Scarfe, chief executive, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, comments: ‘Music by its nature is inclusive. We hope that this win ignites similar conversations, ensuring more people can access concert platforms and build careers as performers.  We’re thrilled that the BSO has been recognised with one of the highest accolades in classical music; this is an important moment in building a more inclusive profession.’

Sofia Gubaidulina says: ‘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’. Let us hope that this may be a unique moment in the history of music - when growth for all mankind can really be achieved through works of art. I am infinitely grateful to the Royal Philharmonic Society for the honour that I have been shown.’

John Gilhooly OBE, RPS chairman, adds: ‘All too easily, opinion formers and policy makers can overlook music’s unique strengths, compromising its place in the news, on the national curriculum, and among funding priorities. The winners of this year’s RPS Awards make a blazing case for classical music empowering people in unique and exciting ways across the UK. Collectively the winners and nominees represent an exhilarating picture of a nation alive with music, and we’re proud – with BBC Radio 3 – to celebrate them.’

The 2019 RPS Award winners are as follows:
RPS Gold Medal – Sofia Gubaidulina
Gamechanger – Chineke!
Chamber-Scale Composition Sponsored by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell – Tansy Davies Cave
Concert Series & Events Sponsored by PRS for Music – The Cumnock Tryst
Conductor 9 Supported by BBC Music Magazine – Mirga Gražinyt?-Tyla
Ensemble Sponsored by Schott Music – Aurora Orchestra
Impact Supported by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music – BSO Change Makers and Resound
Instrumentalist – Alina Ibragimova violin
Large-Scale Composition Supported by The Boltini Trust – Rebecca Saunders Yes
Opera & Music Theatre Supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE –Birmingham Opera Company Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Singer – Nina Stemme soprano
Storytelling Presented this year in memory of Arthur Searle, RPS Honorary Librarian 1983-2019 – Oliver Soden Michael Tippett The Biography
Young Artists – Castalian String Quartet

Photo caption: Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE (Founder and Artistic & Executive Director, Chineke!) and musicians from Chineke! Orchestra are presented with the first ever RPS Gamechanger Award, at the 2019 RPS Awards which took place at Battersea Arts Centre, London, on Thursday 28 November.