2021 RPS Awards Shortlists Revealed

28 Sep 2021

We are pleased to present a strong message about the power and presence of classical music throughout the pandemic as we announce the shortlists for this year's Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

This year’s Awards are vibrant evidence of a profession that, faced with huge challenge, has never stopped raising people’s spirits when the nation needed it most. From star soloists including Nicola Benedetti, Elizabeth Llewellyn, Abel Selaocoe and Nicky Spence to unsung heroes and amateur musicians, the shortlists tell a story of tremendous creativity, connectivity and resilience in this most challenging of years.

  • Shortlisted initiatives highlight the important social, cohesive benefits of music in difficult times, notably English National Opera’s ENO Breathe drawing on the practice of opera singers to help COVID sufferers, and Orchestras for All breaking down barriers to give life-changing, inclusive experiences to young people in disadvantaged circumstances
  • Nominees collectively illustrate classical music enriching lives across the UK including in the North East (Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Opera North and Leeds Playhouse), the North West (singers Jennifer Johnston and Jess Dandy, new music written for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic), Scotland (Dunedin Consort, Nevis Ensemble, Orkney Winter Choir and Camerata, conductor Paul MacAlindin) and Wales (conductor Ryan Bancroft, South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus)
  • From countless streamed performances to Vopera’s virtual production of L’enfant et les sortilèges and the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s The World How Wide, nominees are commended for establishing new ways – set to last – of sharing classical music with wider audiences digitally
  • The 22 individual performers and composers shortlisted range in age from 23 (horn player Ben Goldscheider) to 70 (conductor Jeffrey Skidmore) and 27% are people of colour, including Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of the famous musical family nominated in the Storytelling category for her book ‘House of Music’

Shortlists across 11 categories, each decided by independent panels, are revealed today. Already announced is the shortlist for an award set to be decided for the very first time by public vote. The Inspiration Award is newly introduced to celebrate non-professional ensembles who have likewise kept communities connected through the pandemic. Throughout September, the public has been voting for whom they feel should receive this award from a shortlist of six entities. Over 4000 votes have been received so far and voting is now closed.

The 2021 RPS Awards take place at Wigmore Hall, London, at 7.30pm on Monday 1 November. The event will be hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham and RPS Chief Executive James Murphy, and trophies presented by RPS Chairman John Gilhooly. Tickets are £16 – 30, a vastly reduced price this year enabling more music-lovers and music-makers to get together and join in the festivities. As well as revealing the winners of all this year’s awards, the presentation will feature live musical performances from special guest artists, including some of this year’s nominees. Tickets are going fast. For full details of the event and how to book, visit this page of our website.

The RPS Awards will also be filmed, and the stream will be available to watch on our website from Tuesday 9 November. Our partners BBC Radio 3 will also be covering the celebrations in a special broadcast, giving you the opportunity to discover more of the music of the winners and shortlistees, at 7.30pm on Monday 8 November.

RPS Chief Executive James Murphy says: ‘We are so pleased to reveal this year’s RPS Awards shortlists, collectively representing the astonishing hard work, generosity and goodwill of musicians throughout the pandemic. In current times, look no further for a good news story about people nationwide giving the best of themselves to support others. Here is proof for anyone who yet needs it of the invaluable, rousing role that musicians can play in the nation’s recovery. We are so grateful to this year's 60 independent panellists who dedicated their time and care to choosing the shortlists.

Our only disappointment this year is that no women are shortlisted for the Conductor Award. Practically no nominations were made for women conductors which we discovered was due to so few ensembles giving them opportunities during the pandemic. We are optimistic to see more brilliant women conductors getting work again now things are gently easing, but none of us should forget diversity even in challenging times. We are heartened that conductor Hilary Campbell is at least recognised for her work with Bristol Choral Society, shortlisted for this year’s Inspiration Award.’

Chamber-Scale Composition
supported by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell

  • Du Yun - Every Grass a Spring
  • Huw Watkins - Violin Sonata
  • Laura Bowler - Wicked Problems

supported by BBC Music Magazine

  • Jeffrey Skidmore
  • Paul MacAlindin
  • Ryan Bancroft

supported by Tarisio

  • Apartment House
  • Dunedin Consort
  • Nevis Ensemble

supported by ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)

  • ENO Breathe
  • Including Me - Live Music Now
  • Orchestras for All

supported by Decca Classics

  • Aberdeenshire and Phoenix Saxophone Orchestras
  • Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkshire
  • Hilary Campbell and Bristol Choral Society
  • Orkney Winter Choir and Orkney Camerata
  • South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus
  • Themba Mvula and Lichfield Gospel Choir

supported by Help Musicians in its centenary year

  • Abel Selaocoe - cello
  • Nicholas Daniel - oboe
  • Nicola Benedetti - violin

Large-Scale Composition
supported by The Boltini Trust

  • Dani Howard - Trombone Concerto
  • Mark Simpson - Violin Concerto
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage - Last Song for Olly

Opera and Music Theatre
supported by Cazenove

  • Drive & Live: La bohème - English National Opera
  • Opera Holland Park
  • L’enfant et les sortilèges - Vopera

Series and Events
supported by PRS for Music

  • Connecting Voices - Opera North and Leeds Playhouse
  • The World How Wide - Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia
  • Zeitgeist - Riot Ensemble

supported by Jenny Hodgson

  • Elizabeth Llewellyn - soprano
  • Jennifer Johnston - mezzo soprano
  • Nicky Spence - tenor

supported by Lark Music

  • Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason - House of Music
  • Kate Kennedy - Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney
  • Peter Brathwaite - In Their Voices - BBC Radio 3

Young Artist
supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE

  • Ben Goldscheider - horn
  • Jess Dandy - contralto
  • The Hermes Experiment

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If you are a member of the press and would like further information about the RPS Awards, please contact Rebecca Driver Media Relations: victoria@rdmr.co.uk