Graham Vick awarded honorary membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society

Graham Vick was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society last night at the 2016 RPS Awards. The citation read:

“Graham Vick has single-handedly changed the way we think about opera. An opera director of world-wide renown, everything he does stems from a passionate belief that opera that has excellence and accessibility at its core, speaks to everyone. He has taken opera out of the opera house and revitalised the repertoire, creating productions which engage both operatic new comers and the most hardened devotees. In his early 20s, at Scottish Opera, he founded a small touring company bringing opera to remote communities in the Highlands and Islands. He then went on to work with unemployed young people staging Bernstein’s West Side Story in an abandoned mill in Yorkshire, before founding the award-winning Birmingham Opera Company in the 1980s. In Birmingham he invites local people in to create and experience opera in unpredictable places at the heart of the city.  The point of opera, he says “is to spark a debate about the way you live your life, about the society you’re in, the way we relate to each other and the choices we make.”

After receiving the Award, Graham Vick gave the keynote speech for the evening, which has been widely reported in today’s Guardian:

Honorary Membership is the oldest award that the RPS offers and has been given less than 140 times since the first recipient, Carl Maria von Weber in 1826. Among the many celebrated names on the list are Mendelssohn (1829), Rossini (1839), Berlioz (1859), Wagner (1860), Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Stravinsky (1921), and Aaron Copland (1970).