The renowned viol player, conductor, and champion of historical music Jordi Savall has been made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in recognition of his outstanding services to music.
RPS Honorary Membership was presented to Jordi Savall by James Murphy, RPS Chief Executive, onstage at Wigmore Hall in London on Tuesday 1 February as he returned to the UK to perform for the first time since the pandemic began.
Since 1826, the Society has presented Honorary Membership in recognition of those who devote their lives to music, uplifting others in the music they create. It was first presented to the composer Weber and subsequent recipients include Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Clara Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Yehudi Menuhin, Janet Baker, Evelyn Glennie, George Benjamin, Marin Alsop, Stephen Sondheim, and most recently Sarah Connolly. Pablo de Sarasate and Pau Casals are the only Spanish ones included in this historical list to be recognized by the Royal Philharmonic Society.
On presenting Jordi with his certificate of Honorary Membership, James said:
‘Jordi, over the years at Wigmore Hall and in concert halls worldwide, you have done so much to transport musical treasures from the distant past – that all too easily could have been lost without your stewardship. You have done so much to protect and preserve the viol, so that we too may hear and be consoled by its uniquely sonorous voice. As we have heard tonight, it is a balm like little else in these disarming, disquieting times.
Both with your instrument, in the glorious vocal and instrumental groups you have founded, and in your many revelatory collaborations and recordings, you have shown us how music of bygone times yet has so much to say to modern ears. In your hands, the reappraisal of historical music never feels academic: the virtuosity and tenderness of your touch makes us almost believe the ink is still freshly wet on works written hundreds of years ago. We are tremendously grateful for all you have done, not only to ensure such music endures, but that it is performed with such vivacity today. In recognition of your achievements, it gives me great pleasure and pride – on behalf of the RPS Board and Council – to present you with Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society.’
On receiving his RPS Honorary Membership certificate, Jordi was met with a standing ovation from the Wigmore Hall audience. Savall thanked this distinction with some words that remarked the fact that his musical guide has always been guided by “passion, discipline and energy.” He added that “music only exist when musicians are playing. And this distinction also goes to all musicians that have played all along these fifty years. Then, fifty years ago, when I arrived in London making a research at the musical archives of The British Museum, I was aware of the quantity of extraordinary music that was sleeping in those archives. We have to convince people to play this music, because it is our music, because music is the real language of all Europeans.”
Jordi Savall was performing at Wigmore Hall with fellow musicians Andrew Lawrence-King (Spanish baroque harp), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (guitar) and David Mayoral (percussion).
Annually, the RPS welcomes nominations for Honorary Membership from RPS Members and colleagues across the music profession. Recipients are decided upon by the RPS Board of Trustees and advisory Council. A full list of those who have received Honorary Membership from 1826 to the present day can be found here.
ABOUT THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY
For over 200 years, the RPS has been at the heart of music, creating opportunities for musicians to excel, and championing the vital role that music plays in all our lives.
It all began in 1813 when a group of musicians set out to raise awareness of their work and established a series of orchestral concerts in London. The Society’s performances attracted world-class artists including Mendelssohn and Wagner, and it commissioned exhilarating new music for an eager public to hear: most famously, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In its founding gesture, the Society created a lasting culture. Other orchestras found their footing and their music resounds across Britain today.