Calderland flood opera wins prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society music award

Calderland wins top award. Picture by Simon Jay Price (
Calderland wins top award. Picture by Simon Jay Price (

Calderland, a folk opera that celebrates the Calder Valley’s enduring relationship with water and the impact of the devastating floods of Boxing Day 2015, has won a prestigious award

The performance was handed the Royal Philharmonic Society [RPS] Music Award for Learning and Participation.

Calderland – commissioned and created by Bradford based 509 Arts – was an ambitious community opera by composer Richard Taylor, librettist Mike Kenny and director Alan Dix who worked with the people of Calder Valley alongside a committed group of partners.

The judges commented: “Calderland celebrates the resilience, recovery and reinvention of this community following the devastating floods of 2015. With a compelling narrative and sophisticated musical language, this is the kind of artistic experience that changes lives.”

Alan Dix added: "Calderland was many months in the making and became an extraordinary collaboration between the 509 Arts team and the communities and organisations of the Calder Valley. Together they demonstrated how a positive and uplifting story can come out of challenging times.

"Calderland is truly a love letter to the Calder Valley and this award is a brilliant tribute to everyone who worked to make it such a great success."

Over 50 shortlisted musicians, ensembles and organisations nationwide from across the classical music world joined the impressive gathering at the independent awards ceremony at The Brewery in London, to celebrate ‘the outstanding, the pioneering, and the inspirational in live classical music’.

The judges, made up of an eminent jury from the music profession, were particularly struck by the inclusive nature of the workshop and rehearsal process leading to the final performances, and by the clear evidence that the project has created an energetic musical legacy.

Calderland was performed in the vast open-air piazza of Grade I listed The Piece Hall, Halifax over three consecutive evenings.

A community choir of over 150 local singers were recruited at workshops across the valleys and included four choirs from nearby primary schools, under the guidance of choir director Em Whitfield Brooks, alongside a core band of local musicians.

The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations.

To find out more about the awards click here