Garsington Opera’s The Turn of the Screw wins 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Award

Winners of the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards have been revealed this evening in a digital broadcast featuring performances filmed at London’s Wigmore Hall.

A prominent advocate for music this year, RPS Chairman John Gilhooly opened proceedings with a major speech: ‘Tonight we come together, in a year when our musical world has been largely immobilised, and, for a while, totally silenced. This could easily be an eighteen month or longer crisis for live performance. We need our leaders to maintain an ongoing honest and open dialogue with our industry. We need a faster solution for getting aid to the self-employed. We need to be clear about the scale of what will be lost. We need to draw on every resource we can to heal and rebuild our society, and cannot allow music to be neglected or overlooked in this. As we continue on the uncertain road ahead, we draw on our inner strength, our resilience, and our solidarity as a community of musicians and music lovers; as a Philharmonic Community.’

Garsington Opera’s 2019 production of Britten’s opera The Turn of the Screw won the Opera and Music Theatre section of the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards (supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE).

The jury’s citation read: ‘This spine-tingling, stylish production was a class act. It was perfectly conceived for its setting as twilight fell, and showcased a gratifyingly inclusive cast and crew, all delivering at the very highest level.’   The award was open to all opera activities taking place in the 2019 season in the UK and the winner was chosen by a panel of specialists.  

Douglas Boyd, Garsington Opera’s Artistic Director, said: “All of us at Garsington Opera are so proud of this production, and we’re over the moon that we’ve won this award. In this year when we must celebrate the performing arts more than ever, we’d like to dedicate this award to everyone who works in the amazing world of opera. We’re all winners.”

A highlight of the 2019 Season, this production of Britten’s masterpiece was acclaimed by 5-star reviews in the press and a hugely enthusiastic audience response.  It featured a starry British cast and was enhanced by stand-out debut performances by the children playing Miles and Flora – among the most challenging juvenile roles in the whole operatic canon.  

Cast and creative team:
Prologue/Quint Ed Lyon, Governess Sophie Bevan
Flora Adrianna Forbes-Dorant / Elen Willmer, Miles Leo Jemison
Mrs Grose Kathleen Wilkinson, Miss Jessel Katherine Broderick 
Conductor Richard Farnes, Director Louisa Muller 
Designer Christopher Oram, Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth 
Garsington Opera Orchestra 

A filmed version of a live performance was shown on BBC iPlayer in the summer and can be seen on our YouTube channel until 19 December. Click here to watch the opera 

Garsington Opera is also delighted to announce that Louisa Muller’s award-winning production will be revived in 2022 (cast and full creative team to be announced).  

Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw received the Singer Award (supported by Jenny Hodgson) for her leading roles at Scottish Opera, English National Opera and Opera Holland Park.  The jury said: ‘In a sensational year, Natalya has invested palpable emotion and sheer vocal magic in the title roles of Tosca for Scottish Opera, Madama Butterfly for English National Opera, and Iolanta for Opera Holland Park.’

Other RPS winners represent a nation of inspirational musicians: cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason raised in Nottingham receives the Young Artists Award for captivating listeners worldwide; and the Scottish Ensemble receives the Ensemble Award for their innovation and international reach in their 50th birthday year.

Internationally-treasured composer John Williams is announced as the recipient of this year’s RPS Gold Medal, one of the highest honours in music, recognising outstanding musicianship since 1870. He has dedicated his life to ensuring orchestral music continues to speak to and captivate millions of people worldwide. Accepting the medal via video, Williams said: ‘To receive this award is beyond any expectation I could possibly have. For any composer to be able devote his or her life entirely to the composition of music is very fortunate indeed. I’d like to thank our musicians of our great orchestras in London and in the United States with whom I’ve worked so happily for so many years.’

Director Steven Spielberg sent his congratulations in a video recorded especially for the RPS, saying: ‘John, you have brought the classical idiom to young people all over the world through your scores, and through your classical training and your classical sensibilities. You are in the DNA of the musical culture of today.’

The new Inspiration Award – introduced to celebrate the extraordinary music-making that has uplifted the nation in lockdown – went to six winners: Concerteenies, Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme, The Opera Story, Stay At Home Choir, #UriPosteJukeBox and the Virtual Benedetti Sessions. For this award, the RPS opened nominations to the public for the first time, inviting households nationally to share what has moved them musically since March: an unprecedented 2,600 nominations were received.

The Impact Award – awarded for initiatives that have a lasting positive effect on people who may not otherwise experience classical music – went to City of London Sinfonia for ‘Sound Young Minds’ which powerfully defines how classical musicians can play a transformative role in the lives of young people with mental health issues, boosting their confidence, social skills and trust.

The Gamechanger Award recognising those who break new ground in classical music is awarded to conductor Jane Glover for earnestly carving a path for women conductors, long before it became a movement. Aptly complementing that, this year’s Conductor Award goes to Dalia Stasevska for the energy and integrity she has brought to her new association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Other winners include: viola player Lawrence Power (Instrumentalist Award), an outstanding advocate for his instrument, constantly commissioning new works for the viola; composers Naomi Pinnock (Chamber-Scale Composition) for I am, I am and Frank Denyer (Large-Scale Composition) for The Fish That Became The Sun which waited 24 years to receive its UK premiere at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival last year; Kings Place’s year-longVenus Unwrapped celebrating female artists (Concert Series and Events); and Stephen Hough’s book ‘Rough Ideas’ (Storytelling).

Winners were announced in the 2020 RPS Awards digital broadcast at 7.00pm on Wednesday 18 November on the RPS website, where it remains available to view on demand.  Presented by BBC Radio 3’s Georgia Mann, it featured performances by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Natalya Romaniw and Lawrence Power, specially filmed at the Wigmore Hall.

Longstanding RPS Awards partner BBC Radio 3 will present a musical celebration of the RPS Awards winners at 7.30pm on Monday 23 November.

Above: Natalya Romaniw with John Gilhooly at the RPS 2020 Awards, presented at Wigmore Hall