His Majesty The King with Judith Weir, flanked by RPS Council member Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason and RPS Chairman John Gilhooly (photo: Matt Crossick/PA Wire)

RPS honours presented to Anne-Sophie Mutter and Judith Weir

07 Jun 2023

His Majesty The King has presented RPS Honorary Membership to the eminent composer Judith Weir CBE at a concert of Handel’s Coronation Anthems presented by Wigmore Hall at St James’s, Spanish Place, London on Tuesday 6 June.

RPS Chairman John Gilhooly CBE has also presented the RPS Gold Medal to the acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter onstage during her concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London on Sunday 4 June.

Recipients of RPS Honorary Membership and the Gold Medal are selected annually by the RPS Board and Council. Since 1826, RPS Honorary Membership has been presented in recognition of those who devote their lives to music and uplifting others with it. It was first presented to the composer Weber and subsequent recipients include Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Dvorák, Clara Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Stravinsky, Boulez, Dame Janet Baker and more recently Dame Evelyn Glennie, Sir George Benjamin, Marin Alsop, Stephen Sondheim, and Dame Sarah Connolly. As His Majesty The King made the presentation to Judith Weir, the following citation was read by RPS Council member Dr Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason:

‘Musicians often seem like magicians, and this certainly comes to mind when listening to Judith’s spellbinding music. Her works shimmer and glisten with jewel-like touchstones: from folklore to Shakespeare to Chinese opera. They are rich in atmosphere and narrative, and often a glint of mysticism. It’s no wonder that they are cherished by so many orchestras, opera companies, choirs and soloists, here in the UK and on the international stage.

The abundant, boundless qualities of her music are matched by her own generosity of spirit: throughout her career, Judith has devotedly helped others to find their voice and fulfil their musical calling. She has created new works for countless community groups and schools from Aberdeen to Dover. She has taught extensively, sharing her wisdom at Glasgow University, Cardiff University, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and further afield at Princeton and Harvard. As Master of The King’s Music, appointed to the role in 2014 by Queen Elizabeth II, she has ardently championed so many unsung heroes, from school music teachers to amateur ensembles. And of course her music has radiated on national and royal occasions, from her resplendent choral work I love all beauteous things for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, to the glorious Brighter Visions Shine Afar performed last month at The King’s coronation. Thank you Judith for all your musical gifts.’

The presentation was central to a concert of Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Coronation Anthems featuring the acclaimed French Baroque ensemble Le Concert Spirituel directed by Hervé Niquet, and a guest appearance by baritone and RPS Trustee Roderick Williams who sang God Save The King with the ensemble. The presentation will feature in BBC Radio 3’s broadcast of the concert on Thursday 8 June at 7.30pm.

The Philharmonic Society of London was conferred its Royal title on its centenary in 1913. Members of the Royal Family from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother attended concerts presented by the Society, and Queen Elizabeth II – who was Patron of the Society from 1952 – visited the British Library when it became the new home of the Society’s treasured archives, among them Beethoven’s manuscript of his Ninth Symphony, dedicated in his own hand to the Philharmonic Society which commissioned it.

John Gilhooly and Anne-Sophie Mutter on the Royal Festival Hall stage with pianist Lambert Orkis

First presented in 1871, the RPS Gold Medal is awarded for the most outstanding musicianship to the finest musicians of any nationality. It bears the image of Beethoven, to celebrate the close relationship between the composer and the Society which commissioned his Ninth Symphony. Among prior recipients are Brahms, Elgar, Britten, Bernstein, Kathleen Ferrier, John Barbirolli, and more recently Jessye Norman, Daniel Barenboim, Antonio Pappano, Simon Rattle, Mitsuko Uchida, Vladimir Jurowski, and John Williams. Among the violinists to receive it are Joachim, Kreisler, Ysaÿe and Menuhin. On presenting the medal to Anne-Sophie Mutter, John Gilhooly said:

‘I am sure everyone here will join me in thanking you for the radiant music you have given us, not just tonight, but over a luminous career. In all your performances and recordings, we have basked in the golden light you have cast across the violin repertory. Your interpretation of so many masterpieces is definitive. It is fitting in fact that we’ve just heard you play Beethoven so exquisitely, given his image is engraved on the Gold Medal, in recognition of the happy association that the Philharmonic Society had with him, notably as it commissioned his Ninth Symphony.

Your own dedication to the composers of our time has been remarkable. Among the many new works you’ve performed are sensational pieces by four other RPS Gold Medal recipients: Sofia Gubaidulina, John Williams, Henri Dutilleux and Witold Lutoslawski. You are an inspiration to so many aspiring violinists. Your care and devotion to individually helping them overcome hurdles with the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation is especially treasured. Let us also commend how you use your music-making to draw minds to humanitarian matters, not least through your concerts this last year in support of the people of Ukraine.’

The presentation was part of a chamber concert in which Anne-Sophie performed Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Piano Trio, Clara Schumann’s Three Romances, Brahms’ Violin Sonata No.3, and the UK premiere of Sebastian Currier’s Ghost Trio, with cellist Maximilian Hornung and pianist Lambert Orkis.