Stern words at the RPS Awards – Telegraph Blogs

Aldeburgh in Suffolk

Awards ceremonies are supposed to be upbeat occasions: and for the most half, the different night time’s Royal Philharmonic Society Awards have been simply that. But they kicked off with surprisingly stern words from the RPS Chairman John Gilhooly, regretting the undeniable fact that we have been there at all. Or extra notably, there in the Dorchester Hotel.

The Dorchester is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, whose tin-pot Southeast Asian state has simply launched a raft of grotesquely repressive Shariah legal guidelines, punishing issues like adultery, abortion and homosexual relationships with flogging and stoning – and prompting calls to boycott the Sultan’s worldwide enterprise pursuits.

So as we settled down for the gong-present, the first words we heard have been John Gilhooly explaining that it hadn’t been “a simple choice to proceed with this night’s preparations’”, they usually’d solely gone forward as a result of it proved financially unattainable to cancel at brief discover.

“The RPS is vehemently against any legal guidelines that inhibit human rights or equality,” he stated, “and we’ve made that very clear to the lodge’s administration.”
What impact this can have on the Sultan’s enthusiasm for medieval tortures stays to be seen. But it was value saying. It was applauded by each final individual in the room. And one can solely hope that in the subsequent few weeks the Dorchester’s company bookings fall by way of the flooring.

On a happier word, it was a superb night for the South Bank Centre’s “The Rest is Noise” season which took an award for live performance collection of the yr, as did the LPO for its main position in the challenge. As the LPO’s chief exec Tim Walker stated, committing to 31 consecutive live shows of twentieth-century music was a raffle, however one which paid off. And not simply when it comes to crucial response however of field workplace. Classical music audiences are clearly extra adventurous than they’re given credit score for.

A good night time too for Aldeburgh Music, whose brilliantly conceived celebrations for the Britten Centenary acquired a a lot-deserved award. Joyce DiDonato was singer of the yr. The reside-wire violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (familiarly recognized lately as PatKop: it’s simpler) was instrumentalist. Daniel Barenboim received the conducting prize for his Proms Ring Cycle. And George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin received the giant-scale composition prize.

But the actually huge deal – the RPS Gold Medal – went to that nice (and nonetheless very a lot going) British bass Sir John Tomlinson, whose forty-yr stage profession ranks amongst the supreme achievements of the trendy UK arts world. Not precisely a spring hen, he’d nonetheless spent the morning in Cardiff rehearsing Schoenberg’s Moses with WNO, the afternoon in Maida Vale rehearsing Birtwistle’s Green Knight for the BBC; and he advised me that when the awards ceremony was over he was going again to Cardiff on a WNO minibus – which seemed like the type of factor that easyJet lay on to get you out to Stansted for a fiver, and should have been travelling into the early hours of subsequent morning. So a lot for the glamour of life at the prime in opera.

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