Gerald Barry awarded prestigious RPS prize

On 14 May, composer Gerald Barry was awarded the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s prize for Large-Scale Compositions for his recent opera The Importance of Being Earnest. Adjudicated by a panel including Cathy Graham, Adrian Thomas, Andrew Burke, Mark Bowden and Zoe Martlew, who described it the ‘forceful originality of this work smashes conventions alongside plates, and miraculously provides the most well-worn quotes with a freshness and originality.’ Past winners of the award include composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Gerard Grisey, Witold Lutoslawski and Kaija Saariaho.

The Importance of Being Earnest is Barry’s fifth opera, composed in 2010 and commissioned by Los Angeles Philharmonic Opera and London’s multi-arts venue (and home to the London Symphony Orchestra) the Barbican. The work was premiered by the LA Phil, conducted by Thomas Adès (who also premiered The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit), since which time the work has recieved immense critical praise. The opera received its first fully-staged production at France’s Opéra National de Lorraine on St. Patrick’s Day this year. It was recently described by the Guardian’s Tom Service as being ‘poised between the same poles of the reidiculous and the uncompromisingly serious…[Barry’s] music sounds like no one else’s in its diamond-like harness, its humour and sometimes, its violence’.

See the composer discuss The Importance of Being Earnest with Thomas Adès, Fiona Shaw and Stephen Fry.

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