Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society was presented to Graham Vick, Director of Birmingham Opera, at the RPS Music Awards ceremony on Tuesday 10 May 2016 at The Brewery in the City of London.
Before delivering the RPS Music Awards keynote speech, Graham Vick was presented with Honorary Membership of the Society by RPS Chairman, John Gilhooly. He becomes the 139th recipient since the first Honorary Membership was made to Carl Maria von Weber in 1826.
Illustrious Honorary Members have included Rossini (1839), Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Stravinsky (1921), Aaron Copland (1970) and Lady Evelyn Barbirolli (2001). More recent recipients include founder of El Sistema José Antonio Abreu (2008), Marin Alsop (2014) and Evelyn Glennie (2015).
In its citation, the Royal Philharmonic Society said:
“Graham Vick has single-handedly changed the way we think about opera. An opera director of worldwide renown, everything he does stems from a passionate belief that opera that has excellence and accessibility at its core, speaks to everyone. He has taken opera out of the opera house and revitalised the repertoire, creating productions that engage both operatic new comers and the most hardened devotees...The point of opera, he says, is “to spark a debate about the way you live your life, about the society you’re in, the way we relate to each other and the choices we make.”
In his acceptance speech Graham Vick challenged the profession: “Music effects change by touching humanity. Through music we can harness and share the richness of cultural background and identity, the breadth of life experience and alternative perspectives available in our expanding communities and enrich all our understanding ... It’s time for each one of us to step up and take responsibility for the well-being of our society rather than just taking. I want our work to be part of the solution not the problem."