For the first time ever the RPS Gold Medal, the Society’s highest accolade, was presented at the RPS Awards Dinner on 8 May 2002. The presentation was made by Lord Harewood to Dame Joan Sutherland:
“In recognition of her outstanding contribution to music for more than half a century: in particular to the world of opera, notably her achievements in the performance of bel canto and 19th Century French opera, the extension of those repertoires, and the promotion of their appreciation; for her unique vocal accomplishments, and her encouragement of young singers world-wide.”
Dame Joan was delighted to receive the medal, saying:
“I am highly honoured to receive this prestigious Award, previously given to so may great musicians over the last 130 years. This recognition by the Royal Philharmonic Society is an extraordinary highlight to add to the great pleasures of my career."