Birmingham music-making celebrated at classical music’s major awards


The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) last night – Thursday 28 November – revealed the winners of the 2019 RPS Awards, with two major Awards reflecting the strength of Birmingham’s classical music scene.

  • Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla wins Conductor Award, in month when she has also been nominated for a Grammy Award.
  • Birmingham Opera Company’s staging of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk wins Opera & Music Theatre Award.

Birmingham’s classical music-making scene has received the industry’s biggest nod with not one but two major accolades at the RPS Awards, which celebrate the outstanding, the pioneering, and the inspirational in classical music.  

The 2019 RPS Awards were presented at a star-studded event at Battersea Arts Centre, London, on Thursday 28 November. The Awards mark their 30th anniversary in 2019 and are presented in association with BBC Radio 3, who will broadcast highlights from the event on Sunday 1 December at 8:45pm. For a full list of the winners of the 2019 RPS Awards visit the RPS website.

As debate ensues about gender equality, every RPS Award presented to an individual artist this year went to a female musician, with Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla picking up the coveted Conductor Award. It’s been a significant month for the conductor who also received her first Grammy nomination for her debut recording with Deutsche Grammophon.

In February 2019 Gražinytė-Tyla made history by becoming the first female conductor to sign an exclusive long-term contract with Deutsche Grammophon - home to legendary conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez and Andris Nelsons. Her debut DG recording with the CBSO was released in May 2019 and featured two symphones by the Polish-born Soviet composer, Mieczyslaw Weinberg. The release has been met with universal acclaim and has recently been nominated for a Grammy for best orchestral performance.

Birmingham Opera Company (BOC)’s epic staging of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, featuring the CBSO conducted by Birmingham born Alpesh Chauhan, was awarded the Opera & Music Theatre Award for uniting countless members of the community to perform alongside the finest professional musicians.

ROYAL PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY (RPS) AWARDS 2019

Celebrating the outstanding, the pioneering, and the inspirational in classical music

Presented in association with BBC Radio 3

For a full list of the winners of the 2019 RPS Awards visit the RPS website.

Opera & Music Theatre

For an outstanding production, or for the overall accomplishments of a company or individual in opera and music theatre.

Supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE

Winner: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - Birmingham Opera Company

Panel citation: Another sensational production from Birmingham Opera Company embracing and embedding its community in world-class work. This is the kind of thing we all wish we were doing – a model to us all in being ambitious and truly going for it. It delivers the pure drama and emotional punch of opera without gimmicks – the audience feels right inside it, and it proves how resonant, inclusive and exciting opera is.

Winner: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

Panel citation: Mirga brings remarkable commitment to her role at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, vibrantly delving into what it means to be a Music Director: bringing her own vision yet shaping a respectful, mutually fruitful partnership with the players. She commits herself wholeheartedly to the life of the orchestra, its youth and choral contingents; plunging bravely and energetically into a vast and distinctive repertory; and captivating the city’s imagination beyond the concert hall.



welcoming mirga grazinyte tyla.