Entertainment & Arts

Royal Philharmonic Society honours 'life-changing' musicians

British viola player Rosemary Nalden teaching at a school in Soweto, South Africa
Image caption Viola player Rosemary Nalden is recognised for her work in South Africa

The Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) has announced that it will award its most prestigious honour to five musicians to mark its 200th birthday.

The recipients, who include British viola player Rosemary Nalden and pianist Ricardo Castro, will be given an honorary membership.

The society, which has only given out 131 memberships in the past 187 years, said the musicians had all made a "profound difference" with their work.

They will receive the awards on 14 May.

Former pilot Armand Diangienda, who founded a symphony orchestra in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is among those to be honoured.

Rosemary Nalden will be recognised for her work in a stringed instrument school in Soweto, South Africa. Ricardo Castro founded a youth music programme in Brazil.

Dr Ahmad Sarmast, who set up the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, and violinist Aaron P Dworkin, will also receive honorary memberships.

'Fundamental importance'

RPS chairman John Gilhooly said the musicians were chosen because they "understand the fundamental importance of culture in society and its potential to change lives".

"Each has shown tenacity and vision, and each is driven by a 'love of their art' which is very much in keeping with the founding principles of the RPS," he added.

The RPS was formed in 1813 and the first honorary membership was awarded in 1826.

The society's annual Music Awards, which honour musicians, composers, writers and arts organisations, are described by organisers as "the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK".

This year sees the young musicians who performed at the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony competing for the learning and participation prize.

Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel is among the big names nominated in the singer category, alongside the English mezzo-sopranos Alice Coote and Sarah Connolly and the US tenor Bryan Hymel.

BBC Radio 3's Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Sean Rafferty will host the ceremony, which will be broadcast on the station on 19 May.

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