Derwent Brass has rounded off another year of artistic achievement by being nominated for the 2024 RPS 'Inspiration Award'.
Regarded by many as the BAFTAs for classical music, the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards are classical music’s annual good news story, shining much-needed light on inspirational individuals, groups, and initiatives whose music has lifted hearts and minds across the nation.
The eventual winner of the accolade which initiated with support from Warner Classics in 2021, is decided through a public vote of the four nominees, shortlisted by an expert panel to recognise the "remarkable achievements of non-professional musical ensembles or individuals".
Derwent joins a shortlist of three other nominees: Glasgow Madrigirls, Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and The Sunday Boys.
Annually, the RPS Awards celebrate achievements in the previous classical season running from September 2022 to August 2023. 2022 saw Derwent Brass celebrate its 30th anniversary with a trilogy of special events, the finale of which was a hugely successful astronomy themed concert (Under the Stars) with the entirety of Holst’s The Planets Suite as the main course, augmented with Harps, Organ, Celesta, and Chorus. It is quite rare for professional orchestras to perform the full work, and almost unheard of for brass band. This performance was also designed to coincide with the launch of the band’s sustainability commitments that went on to heavily influence not just its own activities, but that of its followers and wider community, resulting in the band’s Making Music ‘Green Award’ in 2023.
Shortly after, the band took its innovative ‘Bitesize Broadway’ production of the award-winning ‘Sweet Charity’ to the Bolsover Festival of Brass. This daring and somewhat controversial musical production no doubt added to the bands growing reputation for daring to break the mould. Derwent Brass then became the inaugural winners of the Brass Bands England Innovation Award in recognition of its enterprise over this and many previous years.
Soon after performing with Southwell Choral Society in Southwell Minster, the band was shortlisted for the coveted title of 4BarsRest’s ‘Band of the Year’, before later gaining a podium finish at the Midland Regional Brass Band Championships in early 2023. Across later events in 2023 the band wowed the audience with yet another innovative and heavily augmented and distinctly Derwent set ‘Once Upon a Time in The West’, culminating in a Stage and Screen ‘Anniversary Edition’ show at Derby Theatre, celebrating Disney 100, Warner Bros 100, James Bond 70, Jurassic Park 30 and more.
The band enjoys a rewarding artistic relationship with Derby Theatre, and in August 2023 began rehearsals for a 4 week, 35-show run of Sarah Brigham’s acclaimed production of ‘Brassed Off’ which proved to be a huge success.
What a year it has been for Derwent Brass, and with even more exciting ventures in the pipeline, including its recently announced collaboration with the UK’s Best Selling Classical Artist Russell Watson in March 2024, the future also looks very bright indeed.
Speaking about the nomination, Chairman, Graham Johnson commented: "This is a wonderful way to recognise the continual artistic ambitions of the band and its achievements over 12 months which saw us continue to grow and expand our audience profile.
To think Derwent Brass has been nominated out of the thousands of musical groups across the country is truly staggering, and it means so much to our whole organisation and its followers. I hope we can now yield support from across the brass band movement and take this unique opportunity to position our treasured genre in the spotlight of the classical world.”
Derwent Brass Associate Composer, Matthew Eden, added: “The activities of Derwent Brass create a unique dynamic, where they are stretching both in ambition and artform, but doing so in a way that maintains a sense of belonging, contributing to both enduring appeal and accessibility. This past year has been one of their best and I could not be prouder to see their pioneering approach to brass banding and sustainability receive due recognition across multiple platforms. This pride is felt deep across the organisation, its associates, and followers, and into the community where their enterprise continues to attract momentum for new and exciting reasons.”
Voting is now open.
It closes at 10.00am on Friday 2nd February 2024. The winners will be announced at the RPS Awards, described by The Sunday Times as ‘the biggest night in UK classical music.’ The event will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music in central Manchester on Tuesday 5th March at 7.00pm. Tickets are now available for the RPS Awards via the RPS website. The RPS Awards are proudly presented in
association with BBC Radio 3.
The 2024 RPS Inspiration Award is supported by Presto Music.