Royal Philharmonic Society Awards Announces 2021 Finalists

Nominees have been shortlisted into 12 categories, with violinist Nicola Benedetti, cellist Abel Selaocoe, and soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn among the winners of the artist divisions

Cellist Abel Selaocoe (Photo credit: Ben Bonouvrier)


Of the categories, the Inspiration Award is the new addition that acknowledges non-professional ensembles who have kept communities connected through the pandemic. This year’s nominees were selected by 60 independent panelists. 

For the very first time, the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards will be decided by public votes, which have tallied to over 4000 throughout September. Voting is now closed. 

The 2021 RPS Awards categories and nominees are: 

Chamber-Scale Composition

supported by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell
  • Du Yun - Every Grass a Spring

  • Huw Watkins - Violin Sonata

  • Laura Bowler - Wicked Problems


supported by BBC Music Magazine
  • Jeffrey Skidmore

  • Paul MacAlindin

  • Ryan Bancroft


supported by Tarisio
  • Apartment House

  • Dunedin Consort

  • Nevis Ensemble


supported by ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
  • ENO Breathe

  • Including Me - Live Music Now

  • Orchestras for All


supported by Decca Classics
  • 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

  • Themba Mvula and Lichfield Gospel Choir


supported by Help Musicians in its centenary year
  • Abel Selaocoe - cello

  • Nicholas Daniel - oboe

  • Nicola Benedetti - violin

Large-Scale Composition

supported by The Boltini Trust
  • Dani Howard - Trombone Concerto

  • Mark Simpson - Violin Concerto

  • Mark-Anthony Turnage - Last Song for Olly

Opera and Music Theatre

  • English National Opera - Drive & Live: La bohème  

  • Opera Holland Park

  • Vopera - L’enfant et les sortilèges

Series and Events

supported by PRS for Music
  • Connecting Voices - Opera North and Leeds Playhouse

  • The World How Wide - Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia

  • Zeitgeist - Riot Ensemble


supported by Jenny Hodgson
  • Elizabeth Llewellyn - soprano

  • Jennifer Johnston - mezzo soprano

  • Nicky Spence - tenor


supported by Lark Music
  • Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason - House of Music

  • Kate Kennedy - Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney

  • Peter Brathwaite - In Their Voices - BBC Radio 3

Young Artist

supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE
  • Ben Goldscheider - horn

  • Jess Dandy - contralto

  • The Hermes Experiment

The 2021 RPS Awards will take place at London’s Wigmore Hall on November 1, 2021. To be hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham and RPS CEO James Murphy, trophies will be presented by RPS Chairman John Gilhooly

This year, tickets for the event have been reduced to between £16 to £30, to encourage more participants to celebrate together. The presentation will feature live performances from special guest artists, including some of this year’s nominees. Tickets to the award ceremony can be booked, here

The filmed version of the RPS Awards will be available for streaming from their website from November 9, 2021. BBC Radio 3 will also be covering the celebrations on November 8, 2021.

“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,” stated Murphy. “In current times, look no further for a good news story about people nationwide giving the best of themselves to support others,” he added. “Here is proof for anyone who yet needs it of the invaluable, rousing role that musicians can play in the nation’s recovery.

“Our only disappointment this year is that no women are shortlisted for the Conductor Award,” Murphy continued. “Practically no nominations were made for women conductors which we discovered was due to so few ensembles giving them opportunities during the pandemic. 

“We are optimistic to see more brilliant women conductors getting work again now things are gently easing, but none of us should forget diversity even in challenging times,” he advised. “We are heartened that conductor Hilary Campbell is at least recognized for her work with Bristol Choral Society, shortlisted for this year’s Inspiration Award.”