Commenting on the award Rosemary Johnson, RPS Executive Director said:
“The Royal Philharmonic Society is delighted to present Honorary Membership to John Stephens. John has been a valued member of the RPS community, both serving on and chairing the Education (now the Learning and Participation) Jury of the RPS Music Awards. He brings to everything he does experience, astuteness, an incisive and clear mind, a respect for colleagues and, above all, a belief in the creative abilities of young people and in the power of music to enhance their lives.”
The presentation was made by animateur and fellow RPS Honorary Member, Richard McNicol, at the LSO Discovery Celebration Concert on Thursday 28 June at the Barbican, surrounded by music makers from local schools and musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra.
John Stephens has been a pioneering figure in British music education for many decades. As Staff Inspector for Music at the ILEA, from 1986 until 1989, he oversaw the development of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra to great artistic heights and also instigated many innovative educational initiatives in London schools, including the first schools educational projects of the Royal Opera House and the London Sinfonietta. He also chaired the National Curriculum Working Group for Music in the 1990s bringing his knowledge and wisdom to bear to ensure that the curriculum embodied innovative ideas about creativity in music, as well as a strong basis for the learning of core musical skills. He has been a music advisor to the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall, London Symphony Orchestra, Trinity College of Music, Youth Music and many other organisations, and is a board member of Britten Sinfonia. In 1999, he received the OBE for services to music education.