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BBC Symphony Orchestra becomes first orchestra to win RPS music award for opera


The BBC Symphony Orchestra has become the first orchestra to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society music award for opera and music theatre for its concert performance of Martinu’s opera Juliette, given at the Barbican in March 2009 under chief conductor Jiri Belohlavek.

Despite strong competition in the category from English National Opera and Birmingham Opera for productions of Britten’s Peter Grimes and Verdi’s Othello, the RPS citation stated that: "… the panel unanimously selected the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s revelatory concert staging of the rarely performed French version of Martinu’s Juliette.

“Given in his anniversary year, this musically outstanding performance enhanced the reputation of both the composer and the work itself.”

The BBC Symphony Orchestra was also shortlisted for best ensemble.

Paul Hughes, general manager of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, said: "To be shortlisted for two RPS awards amongst such illustrious company is exciting enough, but to win the award for opera and music theatre is amazing – and historical that the award has never gone to an orchestra before.

“A commitment to opera is central to our programming and for that to be recognised by this award is just the most thrilling conclusion to what has been a great season.”

The BBC Symphony Orchestra has built a formidable reputation for opera in concert in recent years, with such memorable highlights as John Adams’s The Death Of Klinghoffer (2002); Wagner’s Tristan Und Isolde (2002-3); Barber’s Vanessa (2003); Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2003); Janacek’s The Adventures Of Mr Broucek (2007) – the recording of which won a Gramophone Award – Tippett’s The Knot Garden (2005); and Judith Weir’s The Vanishing Bridegroom (2008).

A forthcoming highlight is a complete performance of Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride, under Jiri Belohlavek, at the Barbican on 20 May 2011.

The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the UK’s most prestigious recognition of achievement in the field of live classical music.

Awards, in 13 categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners.

The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of classical music:

Winners of the 21st RPS Music Awards, which celebrated outstanding achievement in live classical music in 2009, were announced at an awards ceremony in London, hosted by Sean Rafferty, presenter of Radio 3’s In Tune, and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, presenter of Radio 3’s Breakfast.

Award-winners were presented with the traditional silver RPS lyre trophies by Sir John Tomlinson.

A special programme devoted to the Awards is broadcast on Wednesday 12 May at 7pm on Performance On 3, on Radio 3.


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