Wednesday 29 September 2021

People, ensembles and projects who have made a strong contribution to music and the arts this year: the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards shortlist

Vopera's Ravel's L’enfant et les sortilèges - on the RPS Awards shortlist
Ravel's L’enfant et les sortilèges from Vopera - on the RPS Awards shortlist

The shortlist for the 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards is upon us, and this year the awards reflects very much the spirit of the last year with a new Inspiration Award to celebrate non-professional ensembles who have kept communities connected through the pandemic, and which will be decided by public vote.

There are eleven categories in all, full of people and ensembles who have made a strong contribution to music and the arts in the last year. The shortlist for the new Inspiration Award has a striking list of names, Aberdeen and Phoenix Saxophone Orchestras, Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkshire, Hilary Campbell and Bristol Choral Society, Orkney Winter Choir and Orkney Camerata, South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus, Themba Mvula and Lichfield Gospel Choir.

The Opera Award shortlist features ENO's Drive & Live: La Boheme, Opera Holland Park [see my reviews of this Summer's operas] and Vopera's innovative on-line version of Ravel's L’enfant et les sortilèges [see my article]. The Young Artist shortlist features horn player Ben Goldscheider [who brought out an innovative centenary tribute to Dennis Brain earlier this year, see my review], contralto Jessica Dandy [who we have been catching a lot on-line] and the Hermes Experiment.

The Singer shortlist features soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn [see my review of her terrific recent Wigmore Hall recital], tenor Nicky Spence [see my review of his performance of Janacek's Diary of One Who Disappeared at Opera Holland Park] and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, the Instrumentalist shortlist features cellist Abel Selaocoe, oboist Nicholas Daniel and violinist Nicola Benedetti. All amazing names and difficult to select individual winners.

In the Storytelling category it is lovely to see baritone Peter Brathwaite, for his In Their Voices series on BBC Radio 3, alongside Kadiatu Kanneh Mason and Kate Kennedy. Composers on the shortlist include Dun Yun, Huw Watkins, Laura Bowler, Dani Howard, Mark Simpson, Mark-Anthony Turnage spread across two awards.  Organisations and projects include ENO Breathe, Live Music Now, Orchestras for All, Opera North & Leeds Playhouse, chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Riot Ensemble.

The full list is at the Royal Philharmonic Society website, and the awards ceremony takes place at Wigmore Hall on 1 November 2021.

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