His Majesty The King has presented RPS Honorary Membership to the eminent composer Judith Weir CBE at a concert of Handel’s Coronation Anthems presented by Wigmore Hall at St James’s, Spanish Place, London on Tuesday 6 June.
Recipients of RPS Honorary Membership and the Gold Medal are selected annually by the RPS Board and Council. Since 1826, RPS Honorary Membership has been presented in recognition of those who devote their lives to music and uplifting others with it. It was first presented to the composer Weber and subsequent recipients include Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Dvorák, Clara Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Stravinsky, Boulez, Dame Janet Baker and more recently Dame Evelyn Glennie, Sir George Benjamin, Marin Alsop, Stephen Sondheim, and Dame Sarah Connolly.
As His Majesty The King made the presentation to Judith Weir, the following citation was read by RPS Council member Dr Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason:
‘Musicians often seem like magicians, and this certainly comes to mind when listening to Judith’s spellbinding music. Her works shimmer and glisten with jewel-like touchstones: from folklore to Shakespeare to Chinese opera. They are rich in atmosphere and narrative, and often a glint of mysticism. It’s no wonder that they are cherished by so many orchestras, opera companies, choirs and soloists, here in the UK and on the international stage.
The abundant, boundless qualities of her music are matched by her own generosity of spirit: throughout her career, Judith has devotedly helped others to find their voice and fulfil their musical calling. She has created new works for countless community groups and schools from Aberdeen to Dover. She has taught extensively, sharing her wisdom at Glasgow University, Cardiff University, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and further afield at Princeton and Harvard.
As Master of The King’s Music, appointed to the role in 2014 by Queen Elizabeth II, she has ardently championed so many unsung heroes, from school music teachers to amateur ensembles. And of course her music has radiated on national and royal occasions, from her resplendent choral work I love all beauteous things for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, to the glorious Brighter Visions Shine Afar performed last month at The King’s Coronation. Thank you Judith for all your musical gifts.’
The presentation was central to a concert of Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Coronation Anthems featuring the acclaimed French Baroque ensemble Le Concert Spirituel directed by Hervé Niquet, and a guest appearance by baritone and RPS Trustee Roderick Williams who sang God Save The King with the ensemble.
The presentation will feature in BBC Radio 3’s broadcast of the concert on Thursday 8 June at 7.30pm. The Philharmonic Society of London was conferred its Royal title on its centenary in 1913. Members of the Royal Family from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother attended concerts presented by the Society, and Queen Elizabeth II – who was Patron of the Society from 1952 – visited the British Library when it became the new home of the Society’s treasured archives, among them Beethoven’s manuscript of his Ninth Symphony, dedicated in his own hand to the Philharmonic Society which commissioned it.
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