Elizabeth Llewellyn, Jennifer Johnston, and Nicky Spence Shortlisted for Royal Philharmonic Society Award

By Chris Ruel
Photo credits: Jennifer Johnston/RT Dunphy, Elizabeth Llewellyn/Frances Marshall

The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) has announced the 2021 shortlist for the Society’s annual awards.

This year’s shortlist of artists and initiatives shows the important role classical music has played during an unprecedented 18-month stretch of closures and lockdowns, and how, despite the pandemic, artists have persisted in creating, collaborating, and connecting with their communities despite the extraordinary circumstances.

The shortlist includes big-name soloists, the likes of Elizabeth Llewellyn, Jennifer Johnston, and Nicky Spence, to amateur musicians and unsung heroes.

Eleven categories comprised the list, with each decided by independent panels. A newly introduced award, the Inspiration Award is voted on by the public and celebrates non-professional companies that kept communities together throughout the pandemic. Over 4000 votes were received before voting closed on Sept. 30, 2021.

The 2021 RPS Awards will take place at Wigmore Hall on Nov. 1, 2021, and will be hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham and RPS Chief Executive James Murphy, with trophies presented by RPS Chairperson John Gilhooly.

In a press statement, RPS Chief Executive James Murphy said, “We are so pleased to reveal this year’s RPS Awards shortlists, collectively representing the astonishing hard work, generosity and goodwill of musicians throughout the pandemic. In current times, look no further for a good news story about people nationwide giving the best of themselves to support others. Here is proof for anyone who yet needs it of the invaluable, rousing role that musicians can play in the nation’s recovery.”

The shortlist for Chamber-Scale Composition, supported by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell, includes Du Yun, “Every Grass a Spring,” Huw Watkins for “Violin Sonata,” and Laura Bowler for “Wicked Problems.”

For the Conductor category, supported by BBC Music Magazine, the shortlist comprises Jeffrey Skidmore, Paul MacAlindin, and Ryan Bancroft.

Ensembles on the list are Apartment House, Dunedin Consort, and Nevis Ensemble.

The Impact category list, supported by ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music), comprises ENO Breathe, Including Me – Live Music Now, and Orchestras for All.

For the Inspiration category, supported by Decca Records, the following music organizations were shortlisted: Aberdeen and Phoenix Saxophone Orchestras, Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkshire, Hilary Campbell and Bristol Choral Society, Orkney Winter Choir and Orkney Camerata, South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus, and Themba Mvula and Lichfield Gospel Choir.

The shortlist for Instrumentalists, supported by Help Musicians UK, includes Abel Selaocoe, cello; Nicholas Daniel, oboe; and Nicola Benedetti, violin.

Shortlisted in the Large-Scale Composition category, supported by The Boltini Trust, are Dani Howard for “Trombone Concerto,” Mark Simpson for “Violin Concerto,” and Mark-Anthony Turnage for “Last Song for Olly.”

The Opera and Music Theatre category shortlist comprises “Drive & Live: La bohème,” English National Opera; Opera Holland Park; and L’enfant et les sortilèges, Vopera.

For the Series and Events category, supported by PRS for Music, the list includes “Connecting Voices,” Opera North and Leeds Playhouse;The World How Wide,” Chorus of Royal Northern; andSinfonia Zeitgeist,” Riot Ensemble.

The Singer shortlist, supported by Jenny Hodgson, comprises soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, and tenor Nicky Spence.

Shortlisted for Storytelling, supported by Lark Music, are Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, “House of Music;” Kate Kennedy, “Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney;” and Peter Brathwaite, “In Their Voices” – BBC Radio 3.

The list for Young Artists, supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE, comprises Ben Goldscheider, horn; Jess Dandy, contralto; and The Hermes Experiment.