Wasfi Kani, CEO / Founder of Grange Park Opera, Surrey, has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2021 New Year Honours list, for services to music.
The New Year Honours lists recognise the achievements and service of people across the UK, from all walks of life. Along with the Queen’s Birthday Honours, they are the most significant announcements of civilian and military gallantry awards.
With live theatre performances in summer 2020 severely restricted by Covid-19, Grange Park Opera – and its indomitable CEO Wasfi Kani – were never going to let that stand in their way. The company engaged 157 artists for their Found and Interim seasons in 50 new online, free to view events with 22 hours of entirely new material. These events include FOUR staged operas – all lesser-known pieces – and concerts both indoors and outdoors. Payments were made to 146 Artists-in-Need (including backstage staff).
Commenting on her achievements in 2020 Wasfi said “Covid-19 actually gave us a unique opportunity to share the magic of great musical experiences – which are original, stimulating and food for the soul – with as many people as possible around the world. We are immensely proud to have done more than any other UK opera company during the pandemic, leading the arts pack out of lockdown and staying ahead.”
The Found and Interim season have had more than 70,000 views.
Wasfi received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2002 for her work in bringing her second opera company, Pimlico Opera, into prisons.
Reacting to her CBE, Wasfi said “First and foremost I must say that this is a joint achievement: an achievement of my colleagues as well as the generous people who believe in Grange Park Opera’s vision – which is sometimes weird and sometimes traditional. I thank and curtsey to them.”
ABOVE: Theatre in the Woods at Grange Park Opera (c) Richard Lewisohn