Among the string-playing nominees are Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Timothy Ridout and Lawrence Power

Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sheku Kanneh-Mason is the youngest nominee for an RPS award

The team behind the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards has announced its shortlist for 2020.

Among the string playing nominees are cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and viola player Timothy Ridout (Young Artist category), and violist Lawrence Power (Instrumentalist category).

The 18 performers and composers shortlisted range in age from 21 (cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason) to 77 (composer Frank Denyer), with nominees hailing from all over the country. This year’s nominees, from the City of London Sinfonia to tenor Nicky Spence, are commended for imaginatively reinventing their approach to inspire audiences during lockdown. In connection with this, a new ‘Inspiration’ Award will honour the music-making that has uplifted the nation in lockdown. For this, the RPS opened nominations to the public for the first time, inviting households nationally to share what has moved them musically since March. An unprecedented 2,600 nominations were received, and the RPS will announce six winners of this award alongside all other award recipients in November. 

Winners will be announced at  the 2020 RPS Awards digital broadcast at 7.00pm on Wednesday 18 November on the RPS website. Filmed at London’s Wigmore Hall and presented by BBC Radio 3’s Georgia Mann, it will feature performances by several nominees. Longstanding RPS Awards partner BBC Radio 3 will then present a musical celebration of the RPS Awards winners at 7.30pm on Monday 23 November.

The Awards digital broadcast will also feature a guest appearance by an international musician, set to receive this year’s RPS Gold Medal, awarded to outstanding musicians since 1870 from Brahms, Elgar and Bernstein, to Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Jessye Norman and – most recently – Sofia Gubaidulina.


Read: String players honoured at 2019 RPS awards

Read: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Castalian Quartet shortlisted at RPS Awards


RPS Chief Executive James Murphy says: ‘The RPS Awards have always shone a light on great musical achievements, but now that light is a beacon: reminding the nation of the essential, invigorating, connective force that classical music is for so many people. The nominees represent a nation of selfless, inspirational musicians, and a picture of all that risks being lost if they cannot wholly return to work soon.’

For the full shortlist see below


Chamber-Scale Composition

supported by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell

Liza Lim – Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus

Naomi Pinnock – I am, I am

Raymond Yiu – Corner of a Foreign Field  

Concert Series and Events

supported by PRS for Music

Beethoven Weekender – Barbican

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Ryedale Festival

Venus Unwrapped – Kings Place


supported by BBC Music Magazine

Dalia Stasevska

Jonathon Heyward

Martyn Brabbins


supported by Schott Music

City of London Sinfonia

Manchester Collective

Scottish Ensemble


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

Across The Sky – Cheltenham Music Festival


Sound Young Minds – City of London Sinfonia

The Lullaby Project – The Irene Taylor Trust


supported by ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians)

Lawrence Power – viola

Sean Shibe – guitar

Yuja Wang – piano

Large-Scale Composition

supported by the Boltini Trust

David Sawer – How Among the Frozen Words

Errollyn Wallen – This Frame is Part of the Painting

Frank Denyer – The Fish that Became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed)

Oliver Vibrans – More Up

Opera and Music Theatre supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE

Opera Holland Park

Nixon in China – Scottish Opera

The Turn of the Screw – Garsington Opera


Lise Davidsen – soprano

Natalya Romaniw – soprano

Nicky Spence – tenor


‘Bright Stars Shone for Us’ by Tama Matheson

Our Classical Century – BBC Radio 3

‘Rough Ideas’ by Stephen Hough

Young Artists

12 Ensemble

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – cello

Timothy Ridout – viola