“Red Letter” evening for Sinfonia of London, winning three BBC Music Magazine Awards

We’re thrilled to have won a total of three BBC Music Magazine Awards last night in a ceremony at London’s Kings Place: the Orchestral Award, Opera Award and Recording of the Year. The two category awards were voted by audience around the globe out of a shortlist of nominees chosen by a specialist panel of judges from hundreds of 2023 releases.

Following a raft of five star reviews and hailed as the “gold standard” by the Sunday Times, our landmark recording of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! took home the Opera Award. Huge thanks are due in particular to our fabulous cast and the generous support of Stephen Allcock. Collecting the award, the album’s producer Jonathan Allen said:

“It’s such a positive milestone for BBC Music Magazine to award Oklahoma in the Opera category. Early in his career Leonard Bernstein argued that strands of musical theatre and opera would meet in the middle. John Wilson had always wanted to give Oklahoma the same amount of love and attention that is always given to opera, to record the original score for the first time as the audience experienced it on the opening night, with every note that was written, and reveal the intent of the creative team behind it. And by giving Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and the orchestrator and arranger Robert Russell Bennett the respect we constantly serve opera I think John has clearly revealed to the audience how their achievement of melody, drama and expressions of humanity is from the same family as a La Bohème or Don Carlos.”

The evening began with Sinfonia of London winning the Orchestral Award for our album of string orchestra works by Howells, Delius, Elgar and Vaughan Williams’s much-loved Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which was described by BBC Music Magazine in our recording “a stunning benchmark for the digital generation”. Our Managing Director Rosenna East accepted the award:

“This is the fourth time we have been lucky enough to take home the BBC Music Magazine Orchestral Award – we’re honoured every time, and thrilled to make such an impact on the listeners. This album, and its predecessor ‘English Music for Strings’ were inspired by the famous Barbirolli recording of the same name also recorded with the original Sinfonia of London – the first LP that John ever bought, in 1983, which made a great impression on him. So it’s not an overstatement to say that the idea of making these records has been percolating in John’s mind for decades and that Sinfonia of London is a project that goes right to the heart of John Wilson’s musical life and mission, whether that’s knocking down walls built around parts of the repertoire – like Oklahoma – or creating a string sound like no other – such as on this record.”

At the end of the evening we were then thrilled that this same album received the overall award for Recording of the Year, chosen by the panel. John Wilson accepted the award remotely from Glasgow:

“I’m thrilled to bits to win Recording of the Year, especially for this music which I’ve known and loved since I was a teenager – it was a great honour to get to record it with the marvellous musicians in Sinfonia of London. So thank you to the BBC Music Magazine, to everyone who voted for us and our supporters, to the panel and especially to Chandos for their commitment to us. I’m immensely proud to be part of the Chandos family.”

Bringing these recordings to life is only possible with the help of many others. We thank Ralph Couzens and his team at Chandos Records for their superb recordings and all their support for what we’re doing; our wonderful funders and supporters who enable us not just to keep going but to thrive; the fabulous but tiny team here at Sinfonia of London, together with our colleagues at Intermusica; and finally but most profoundly, the players – who keep lifting Sinfonia of London to new heights with their skill and artistry – both live and in recording. This is for them!