Two British Indian musicians in Royal Philharmonic Society Awards shortlist

London: A British Indian conductor and a sitarist are among 19 individual performers and composers shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards, celebrating classical music and musicians across the UK.

Billed by The Sunday Times as the “biggest night in UK classical music”, the awards shine a light on brilliant musical individuals, groups, and initiatives inspiring communities nationwide.

Alpesh Chauhan OBE, Music Director of the Birmingham Opera Company, has been nominated in the Conductor category, and sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun is in the Instrumentalist Award and the Large-Scale Composition Award categories.

“Of the 19 individual performers and composers shortlisted, 42 per cent represent the global majority, including cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Music Director of the Birmingham Opera Company Alpesh Chauhan, and sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun,” a press note by RPS read.

In a post shared on X, Leeds-born Degun thanked his teacher for supporting him in his musical journey.

“Very surreal to announce that I’ve been nominated for two @RoyalPhilSoc Awards! For ‘Best Instrumentalist’ and ‘Large Scale Composition’. I am very thankful to my teacher Ustad Dharambir Singh and to the numerous individuals and organisations that have supported me over the years,” Degun said.

His work as a composer, co-music director, and soloist in the highly praised opera ‘Orpheus’, commissioned by Opera North in partnership with South Asian Arts-UK, earned him a nomination for the Large-Scale Composition Award, according to a press note.

Orpheus garnered five-star reviews and earned Degun a 2022 Critics’ Circle Music Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Opera”.

His other awards and acknowledgments include the Songlines Best Newcomer Award, an Asian Achievers Award, an Asian Media Award, and an Ivor Novello Classical Award nomination for Best Stage Work.

Learning under the guidance of Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE, Degun has performed all over the world in prestigious venues, including Buckingham Palace, the Amphitheatre in Doha, and Westminster Abbey at the Royal Commonwealth Service 2022, in the presence of the British Royal Family and Prime Minister.

Degun trained intensively in India under maestro Ustad Shujaat Khan in 2010 and studied as an International Scholar at the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, under the guidance of Pandit Partho Chatterjee and Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty in early 2016.

Birmingham-born Chauhan’s debut album featuring orchestral works by Tchaikovsky was released with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on Chandos Records in June 2023.

He entered the Royal Northern College of Music in 2008 to study the cello before pursuing the prestigious Master’s Conducting Course.

Following his musical debut in 2015, he was appointed Principal Conductor of Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, in Parma, and performed much of the great symphonic repertoire, including a complete cycle of Brahms’s symphonies.

In 2022, Chauhan was named ‘Miglior Direttore’ by the Italian National Association of Music Critics for concerts given across Italy in 2021, and in January 2022 received an OBE for Services to the Arts in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

The RPS Awards will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on March 5 with tickets priced between ten to 25 pounds.


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