RPS 2020 Awards Shortlist Revealed

14 Oct 2020

Today, we are pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

At this critical time, there has never been a more important moment to champion the worth of classical music. The shortlist illuminates the vital role that classical music plays, inspiring and empowering countless lives nationwide.

Revealed live on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’, the shortlisted nominees for 11 of the Awards illustrate the range and reach of classical music:

  • Multiple nominees prove the positive social effect of classical music, empowering stroke victims in Hull (RPO Strokestra), teenagers with mental health issues (Sound Young Minds – City of London Sinfonia), and families impacted by the criminal justice system (The Lullaby Project – The Irene Taylor Trust), and bringing communities together (Across The Sky – Cheltenham Music Festival).
  • Classical music abounds nationally with multiple nominees in Yorkshire (Ryedale Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, RPO Strokestra in Hull), Glasgow (Scottish Opera, Scottish Ensemble), as well as Manchester Collective, Cheltenham Music Festival, Garsington Opera in Buckinghamshire, and the pride of Wales: Swansea-born soprano Natalya Romaniw.
  • The 18 performers and composers shortlisted range in age from 21 (cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason) to 77 (composer Frank Denyer), and 33% of them are people of colour.

Today’s announcement also brings an update on our newest award:

  • The ‘Inspiration’ Award will honour the extraordinary music-making that has uplifted the nation in lockdown. For this, we opened nominations to the public for the first time, inviting households nationally to share what has moved them musically since March. An unprecedented 2,671 nominations have been received, and we consequently plan to announce six winners of this special award alongside all other award recipients in November. We are tremendously grateful to all who took the time to nominate: your love of music is inspiring. Please keep supporting the musicians you love.

Winners will be announced at the 2020 RPS Awards digital broadcast at 7.00pm on Wednesday 18 November here on the RPS website. Filmed at London’s Wigmore Hall and presented by BBC Radio 3’s Georgia Mann, it will feature performances by several nominees. Longstanding RPS Awards partner BBC Radio 3 will then present a musical celebration of the RPS Awards winners at 7.30pm on Monday 23 November.

The Awards digital broadcast will also feature a very special guest appearance by a much-loved international musician, set to receive this year’s RPS Gold Medal, the highest honour in music, awarded to outstanding musicians since 1870 from Brahms, Elgar and Bernstein, to Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Jessye Norman and – most recently – Sofia Gubaidulina.

Our Chief Executive James Murphy says: ‘The RPS Awards have always shone a light on great musical achievements, but now that light is a beacon: reminding the nation of the essential, invigorating, connective force that classical music is for so many people. The nominees represent a nation of selfless, inspirational musicians, and a picture of all that risks being lost if they cannot wholly return to work soon.’


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

  • Liza Lim – Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus
  • Naomi Pinnock – I am, I am
  • Raymond Yiu – Corner of a Foreign Field  

Concert Series and Events
supported by PRS for Music

  • Beethoven Weekender – Barbican
  • Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
  • Ryedale Festival
  • Venus Unwrapped – Kings Place

supported by BBC Music Magazine

  • Dalia Stasevska
  • Jonathon Heyward
  • Martyn Brabbins

supported by Schott Music

  • City of London Sinfonia
  • Manchester Collective
  • Scottish Ensemble

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

  • Across The Sky – Cheltenham Music Festival
  • STROKESTRA - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Sound Young Minds – City of London Sinfonia
  • The Lullaby Project – The Irene Taylor Trust

supported by ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians)

  • Lawrence Power – viola
  • Sean Shibe – guitar
  • Yuja Wang – piano

Large-Scale Composition
supported by The Boltini Trust

  • David Sawer – How Among the Frozen Words
  • Errollyn Wallen – This Frame is Part of the Painting
  • Frank Denyer – The Fish that Became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed)
  • Oliver Vibrans – More Up

Opera and Music Theatre
supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE

  • Opera Holland Park
  • Nixon in China – Scottish Opera
  • The Turn of the Screw – Garsington Opera


  • Lise Davidsen – soprano
  • Natalya Romaniw – soprano
  • Nicky Spence – tenor


  • Bright Stars Shone for Us – Tama Matheson
  • Our Classical Century – BBC Radio 3
  • Rough Ideas – Stephen Hough

Young Artists

  • 12 Ensemble
  • Sheku Kanneh-Mason – cello
  • Timothy Ridout – viola

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