Sir Charles Mackerras was tonight announced
as the first recipient of The Queen's Medal for Music.
The announcement was made in the presence of Sir Charles
and a 6000-strong capacity audience at a BBC Prom by Master of The Queen's
Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
Sir Charles was conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra
and a glittering cast of soloists in Gilbert & Sullivan's opera
HMS Pinafore, the
second of this season's BBC Proms
The performance was live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded
for broadcast on BBC ONE at a future date.
Sir Charles is the first recipient of this new award,
which is to be made annually to an individual (or group of musicians)
who is judged to have had a major influence on the musical life of the
Announcing the award at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday
16 July, the Master of The Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies,
made the following statement: "Sir Charles Mackerras is one of the most
highly respected and greatly loved musicians of our time.
"He was born in America and brought up in Australia,
but he has worked in this country now for nearly sixty years, and has
become a central figure in our musical life - bringing us discoveries
and rare repertory in superb performances, with a continual spirit of
"Through the power and authority of his interpretations
of Janacek, he introduced this country to the work of one of the greatest
opera composers. He brought stylish performance practice to the music
of the baroque and classical periods, especially Handel oratorio and
"He has recently been enjoying acclaim around the
world in a wide repertory from Brahms symphonies to Strauss operas;
and this year he conducted Mozart's Magic Flute at both the Royal Opera
"In this country, he has had long associations
with English National Opera and Welsh National Opera, the BBC Symphony
Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra,
the Philharmonia, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
"Abroad, he has worked extensively with the Czech
Philharmonic, recorded the Janacek operas with the Vienna Philharmonic,
conducted the Orchestra of St Luke's in New York and the San Francisco
"He recently made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic
at the age of 78, and was immediately re-invited. Sir Charles turns
80 later this year, but he has the energy and commitment of someone
half his age.
"Musical life in this country has benefited immeasurably
from his presence among us, and will continue to do so. It is very fitting
indeed that he should be the first recipient of The Queen's Medal for
Notes to Editors
The nominating process for the recipient of the medal
is overseen by a Music Committee under the chairmanship of the Master
of The Queen's Music. The committee members are Michael Berkeley, Nicholas
Kenyon, William Lyne, the Honourable Sir Humphrey Maud, Richard Morrison
and Lord Moser.
The 75mm medal has been designed by Bethan Williams
and will be cast in silver. All costs relating to the medal are to be
funded by the Privy Purse.
The Queen will present the medal to Sir Charles,
accompanied by the Master of The Queen's Music, during a private Audience
on or around November 22 2005, St Cecilia's Day (St Cecilia being the
patron saint of music), which is also the birthday of Benjamin Britten.
In future years the announcement of the recipient will be made on St