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Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Quay Voices and The World How Wide Community Choir win prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award for The World How Wide

Posted on 8 November 2021

Home  →  Media Room  →  Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Quay Voices and The World How Wide Community Choir win prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award for The World How Wide

RPS Award

BBC Radio 3 to broadcast special RPS Awards programme tonight (8 November) at 7.30pm

Film of the RPS Awards on from tomorrow, 9 November.

Watch The World How Wide here –

The Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia is immensely proud to have won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Series & Event for its stunning choral film, The World How Wide, which also featured Sage Gateshead’s children’s choir, Quay Voices, plus The World How Wide Community Choir, made up of singers from more than 10 local Gateshead choirs.

Regarded by many as the BAFTAs for classical music, the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards celebrate the role of classical music in people’s lives.

This year’s awards recognised particularly the vital role of music through the period of the pandemic and the commitment of musicians to find ways to make music together.

The Award was presented to Timothy Burke, Director of the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia and Helen Blythe, Senior Producer for Sage Gateshead’s classical music programme at an event at Wigmore Hall on Monday 1 November.

The RPS’s Series and Events Award is presented to a festival, themed series of performances or truly unique performance event, presented digitally or for a live audience in the UK, that drew fresh interest to a facet of classical music.

Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia is based on the Tallis hymn Why fum’th in sight, Timothy Burke, Chorus Master of the Royal Northern Sinfonia Chorus, reintroduced the text in this choral arrangement created to engage singers across the North East during the pandemic.

135 singers from Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Quay Voices, and The World How Wide Community Choir drawn from across across the region, rehearsed and recorded their parts individually at home during lockdown, as well as meeting online to hone details of the performance.

Floating Earth edited together all 650 individual recordings, and the creative studio Novak created the accompanying film. The film pairs Vaughan Williams’ music with the majestic local landscape. Just as the musical history of the piece is layered – the 21st century arrangement, Vaughan Williams’ 1910 original, Tallis’ 16th century hymn based on an ancient psalm – so too is the history of this beloved landscape, with millennial architecture at Sage Gateshead, Victorian sea defences, medieval castles, Hadrian’s wall, and the ancient landscape and sea itself.

Timothy Burke, Director of the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia said “my faith in the power of music and creativity to give us a reason to keep on going has been strengthened so much by the dedication and determination of everyone who contributed to this project at such a difficult and uncertain time. It was exhilarating to work so closely with Novak and Floating Earth on this project, their technical wizardry and artistic vision were an inspiration. It has filled me with real joy that this creativity and effort has been recognised and celebrated with this award – congratulations to everyone who contributed to the project.”

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead said, “The World How Wide captures Sage Gateshead – it celebrates the power of classical music to move us, the beauty of our region and how important a sense of place is to people, and the fortitude of the human spirit when people come together. This project was an extraordinary logistical feat leading to hugely uplifting artistic creation, which reached so many people when released last year. I’m so thrilled that Tim’s leadership of RNS Chorus, Novak’s beautiful film and the artistry of every single chorus member involved has been recognised by this Royal Philharmonic Society Award. Thank you RPS for the recognition and PRS for Music for sponsoring the award. Above all bravo to everyone involved in The World How Wide’s creation.”

RPS Chairman John Gilhooly says, ‘For so many of us, music has been a lifeline through the last eighteen months. It’s an honour for the Royal Philharmonic Society to salute the brilliance and resilience of musicians nationally through the pandemic, giving the best of themselves for others, at times of immense personal challenge. This year’s RPS Awards winners are representative of countless music-makers across the UK whom we should all treasure: they have collectively kept our spirits high and will continue to be play an invaluable, central role in the nation’s recovery.’

Longstanding Awards partner BBC Radio 3 broadcast a special RPS Awards programme at tonight at 7.30pm featuring music of the winners. A film of the complete RPS Awards presentation will be freely available on the RPS website from 9 November.

The Series and Events Award is support by PRS for Music

Full list of winners here –


For further information, interviews, or images for The World How Wide please contact:

Susie Gray, Director, The Corner Shop PR

  1. E. M. 07834 073 795

Notes to editors:

Project Statistics
135 singers involved
31 vocal parts
11 live online musical support sessions
650 videos amassed
10 community choirs
128 guide videos issued
1 Zoom rehearsal with Care Home Choir
20h 29m 35s of vocal recordings
300 miles travelled for video footage
10 locations filmed
4.5 hours of footage collected
15-minute final piece

Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia is proud to perform a broad range of repertoire as part of the RNS musical family. While classic choral masterpieces form the core repertoire for the Chorus, more ambitious programming has included performances of film scores, and the tour de force which is James MacMillan’s St Luke Passion.

Founded in 1973 by Royal Northern Sinfonia timpanist, Alan Fearon the Chorus has worked with many guest conductors and with every Music Director since Rudolph Schwartz, the orchestra’s second Music Director, including twelve seasons with Thomas Zehetmair.

With a singing membership of more than 50 individuals, Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia is made up of amateur musicians who work to professional standards.  Members are drawn from all walks of life and from across the North of England.

Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.

Our iconic building, designed by Foster & Partners, welcomes around 500,000 visitors each year. It is home to the acclaimed Royal Northern Sinfonia and presents around 400 events and festivals each year for a live audience of 350,000 (six million people hear our work via stream or broadcasts). Every year we support over 100 musicians through our artist development programme and we work with 30,000 children and young people as well as 20,000 adults in our creative learning programme.

As a charity we rely on financial support from Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, Arts Council England and our donors to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.

Positioned as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation, our continued ambition for the future is to work to significantly to increase the number and range of people connected with music.

Timothy Burke is emerging as an exciting talent amongst the younger generation of conductors, gaining a reputation for expressive and vivid interpretations across a wide range of repertoire.

He read Music at Exeter College, Oxford, before training as a repetiteur at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and winning the Sir Henry Richardson Scholarship to study at the National Opera Studio. He went on to join the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in 2006, and from 2008 until 2013 was Chorus Master at Opera North.

A passionate believer in the importance of new writing, he has, since 2013, been the Music Director at Tête à Tête, producer of the world’s largest festival of new opera, where he has premièred eleven new commissions.

His opera conducting engagements have further included La Fanciulla del West for Opera Holland Park, Le nozze di Figaro for Scottish Opera, Le nozze di Figaro and Tosca for Welsh National Opera, Christmas Eve for Chelsea Opera Group, The Barber of Seville for Opera North and Tell Me The Truth About Love for Streetwise Opera. He has also conducted Les enfants terribles for the Royal Ballet at the Barbican Hall and Will Tuckett’s The Wind in the Willows for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

His work on the concert platform has included The Night Before Christmas and Rachmaninov’s Vespers at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds, St Nicolas, Messiah (excerpts) and Der Ring des Nibelungen (excerpts) with the Orchestra of Opera North, the Opening Gala of the Bradfield Arts Festival 2015 with members of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the 2017 Summer Prom with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Opera Classics, Summer Classics with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, the Great Song of the North with Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland and RNS @ Minimal (Music by John Adams, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman) with Royal Northern Sinfonia.