What We Do

The Royal Philharmonic Society – a registered charity – has been at the heart of music for over 200 years, creating opportunities for musicians to excel, and championing the vital role that music plays in all our lives.

Through our programme of grants, commissions, professional development and performance opportunities, we help many performers and composers overcome barriers to progress and fulfil their potential. Through the annual RPS Awards – described this year by The Sunday Times as ‘the biggest night in UK classical music’ – we celebrate musical accomplishments UK-wide and tell a vital story of what music-makers do for the benefit of others. Through RPS Membership and our new talks and events, we aim to cultivate greater pride and curiosity in classical music. Through all our endeavours, we are dedicated to proving classical music’s rightful and powerful place in society.

Our history dates back to 1813, when a group of musicians set out to build a wider audience for their work and established a series of orchestral concerts in London. The Society’s performances attracted world-class artists including Mendelssohn and Wagner, and it commissioned exhilarating new music for an enthusiastic public: most famously, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In its founding gesture, the Society created a lasting culture. Other orchestras found their footing and their music continues to resound across Britain.

Now the RPS is run by a small, dedicated team in which everyone plays an important role. We are proud of our heritage that we are taking forward in a way that we hope is reflective of the range of people who make classical music today in a diverse, multicultural society. In 2023, the RPS Composers programme includes exceptional talents who are of the global majority, are disabled, working class, gay, transgender and nonbinary. Since 2020, we have ensured at least 20% of RPS Awards panellists are of the global majority, and the Awards themselves are celebrating a greater diversity of artists from across the UK. Since 2017, over 500 women have taken part in our RPS Women Conductors courses with Alice Farnham, which aim to redress inequality while cultivating role models to inspire more women to fulfil their promise as conductors.

In all our work, we are dedicated to recognising excellence and authenticity, and taking further steps to ensure that what we offer and represent is inclusive and relevant.

You can help us in our mission. Did you know that you can become a Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society, just like the National Trust or Royal Horticultural Society? RPS Membership is an opportunity for you to make a charitable gesture and show your support for the music and musicians you love, and be a valued part of a connected community of music-lovers and music-makers united by a cause. Let us tell you more about RPS Membership by clicking here.

To find out about further ways to support the Society’s charitable ventures, please click here.

If you would to talk to us about any aspect of what we do, please do get in touch.