Live Music is…

RPS Executive Director, Rosie Johnson ponders what makes live music, and the RPS Music Awards, so special.

…contemplative, challenging, restorative, shared.

I nearly missed out on classical music. From a very early age my parents regularly took me to services at Canterbury Cathedral where my elder brothers were choristers. I was intoxicated by the music that I heard them sing, hugely impressed by the ritual and, let’s be honest, the idea of boarding school.

I just assumed that I would follow in their footsteps. When it was explained that I didn’t fit the brief, I came to a simple and, from my perspective, rather devastating conclusion: classical music was for boys.

It is easy to feel excluded from classical music….


….sometimes it’s the language used to describe it, or musical one-upmanship, where those without an encyclopaedic knowledge of repertoire or performance history are deemed unable to fully appreciate what they hear. And sometimes, there are more fundamental barriers: economic, social, cultural, disability… or (and it seems surprising to be writing this in the 21st century) being born a girl. And yet, music is the most embracing of art forms, and live music, by offering bespoke, yet collegiate experiences to both audiences and performers, is the most inclusive of the lot.

The winners of this year’s Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards will be announced on Tuesday 9 May. This awards ceremony is the only time each year that we celebrate the transformative, joyous experience of live music in the UK, in all its variety; those wondrous fleeting moments that are gone in a minute, but linger in the mind forever. And it’s this transient quality, a uniqueness that comes from unrepeatable listening, that sets live performance apart from recorded music. Recordings can capture that moment in time, but by allowing us to repeat it, over and over, a little of the magic of ‘liveness’ is lost….”

Read the full blog on BBC Music Magazine

More about the RPS Music Awards

#LiveMusicIs on twitter


Celebrating RPS200 at the BBC Proms

NYO130413_HIRES_JALDEN-28On 11 August, the National Youth Orchestra will return to the Proms, along with the National Youth Choir, Irish Youth Chamber Choir, and Codetta to help celebrate 200 years of the RPS. Nearly 400 teenagers will perform on one of the world’s most famous stages, forming a fitting spectacle for a glorious celebration of the commission of Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

NYO are extremely excited to be invited to the Proms again this year, and it is frequently the highlight of any member’s musical year. Some of our players have had the fortune to already have played with the orchestra at the Proms over the last couple of years, so who better to tell the story than themselves? During our rehearsals this summer, we asked what makes this event so special, and what they’re looking forward to this year:

“Playing at the Albert Hall is an incredible experience in itself, but joining with the magnitude of massed choirs really takes it to the next level. Add Beethoven 9 into the equation and you get a really explosive combination!” Anna Lapwood, harp

“It’s an incredible experience playing at the BBC Proms. The atmosphere backstage before a concert is electrifying and like no other concert venue, not only because the concert is recorded for both live radio and television, but also because NYO always attracts the most passionate, excited and youthful of audiences to the concert series! The orchestra really up their game for the appearance at the RAH and you can feel the energy and passion coming from 170 young musicians putting their heart and soul into the music…it’s really something special to be part of!” Michael Devlin, clarinet

“Performing in the Royal Albert Hall really is an amazing experience. To think of all the amazing artists who’ve graced the stage before makes me cherish every minute I am there.” YeYe Xu, violin

“It’s exhilarating to be part of this meeting of the old and the new: a dynamic youth orchestra in a historic concert hall, with a programme ranging from the classic to the cutting-edge. Nothing is more thrilling than being part of the Proms, during the height of summer, seeing so many people enjoying the music that I hold so close to my heart.” Fien Barnett-Niefs, harp