2019 RPS Awards Shortlist revealed

07 Oct 2019

We are delighted to reveal the shortlist for the 2019 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

This is the 30th Anniversary of the RPS Awards which celebrate the outstanding, the pioneering and the inspirational in classical music. It is the one date in the musical calendar that brings together the UK’s musical profession, from superstars of the stage to unsung heroes engaging the nation with great music-making.

This year’s shortlist presents a powerful picture of excellence and innovation nationwide, and classical music reflecting and keeping pace with contemporary issues:

  • Two shortlisted initiatives celebrate and empower disabled musicians: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound and Paraorchestra’s The Nature of Why.
  • As debate ensues about gender equality among composers, four of seven shortlisted composers this year are female: Anna Meredith, Clara Iannotta, Rebecca Saunders, Tansy Davies.
  • Multiple nominees see classical musicians embarking on impactful collaborations with the community: Welsh National Opera joining forces with the Welsh Refugee Council for its Freedom Season; Streetwise Opera and Bath Philharmonia empowering the homeless and young carers respectively; Birmingham Opera Company’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Sir James MacMillan’s Ayrshire festival The Cumnock Tryst uniting amateur and professional performers.
  • Danish composer Per Nørgård’s Symphony No. 3 gets recognition a remarkable 44 years since its composition, following its UK premiere by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2018.
  • Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason receives his first RPS Award nomination, having received the RPS-Duet Prize for promising young players in 2016, shortly before he went on to win BBC Young Musician.
  • Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is shortlisted for the Conductor Award for the third consecutive year.

Winners are announced at the RPS Awards on Thursday 28 November 2019, held for the first time at Battersea Arts Centre in London, and presented in association with BBC Radio 3.

At the Awards presentation in November, two further honours will be announced: the newest recipient of the coveted RPS Gold Medal, the highest honour in music, which has been awarded to outstanding musicians since 1870 and whose recipients include the late Jessye Norman, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Kathleen Ferrier, Edward Elgar and Johannes Brahms. The RPS will also reveal the winner of its brand new Gamechanger Award for an individual, group or organisation who has done inspirational work breaking new ground in classical music.

If you would like to attend the RPS Awards, tickets are available now. The evening involves a welcome reception with sparkling wine and canapés, the awards presentation – with theatre-style seating and live music – and a post-show party with food and wine and the chance to meet this year’s winners and nominees as well as attendees from across the classical music profession. To book, and for more information about the event, click here.

2019 RPS Awards Shortlist

Chamber-Scale Composition

  • Clara Iannotta dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii)
  • Julian Anderson String Quartet No. 3
  • Tansy Davies Cave

Concert Series and Events

  • The Cumnock Tryst
  • Freedom Season - Welsh National Opera
  • The Nature of Why - British Paraorchestra
  • Stockhausen: Cosmic Prophet - Southbank Centre


  • Francois-Xavier Roth
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
  • Robert Ames


  • Aurora Orchestra
  • BSO Resound
  • Royal Northern Sinfonia


  • BSO Change Makers and Resound
  • Empowering Young Carers - Bath Philharmonia
  • Streetwise Opera


  • Alina Ibragimova violin
  • Jean-Guihen Queyras cello
  • Mahan Esfahani harpsichord

Large-Scale Composition

  • Anna Meredith Five Telegrams
  • George Benjamin Lessons in Love and Violence
  • Per Nørgård Symphony No. 3
  • Rebecca Saunders Yes

Opera and Music Theatre

  • Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - Birmingham Opera Company
  • Royal Opera
  • The Second Violinist - Irish National Opera and Landmark Productions


  • Carolyn Sampson soprano
  • Elaine Mitchener vocalist
  • Nina Stemme soprano


  • Debussy: A Painter in Sound – Stephen Walsh
  • Janet Baker: In Her Own Words – John Bridcut/BBC4
  • Michael Tippett The Biography – Oliver Soden

Young Artists

  • Castalian String Quartet
  • The Hermes Experiment
  • Sheku Kanneh-Mason cello