The most miserable honours list in years

The most miserable honours list in years


norman lebrecht

December 31, 2014

The New Year list is among the most meagre we can recall for musicians.

There are no knighthoods or peerages.

The CBE is awarded to Roger Wright, the former Proms controller and longest serving chief of any service in the BBC’s history; and to Jude Kelly, artistic director of London’s South Bank Centre. Richard Jones, the stage director, shares the same honour.


roger-wright (1)

OBEs go to Jeffrey Skidmore, conductor of the Ex Cathedra choir and John Lubbock, founder-conductor of the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square.

There’s an MBE for Frances Hickox, co-founder of the St Endellion festival, and Rodney Friend, leader of the LPO and the BBC SO and the first Brit to serve as concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.

These are astonishingly slim New Year pickings, the meanest in memory.


rodney friend



  • Alexander Hall says:

    With so many philistines amongst the ranks of the current British government, and a Culture Secretary who is more interested in “Star Wars” than anything else, is it any surprise that the world of classical music has received so little recognition? Jude Kelly doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in this category at all: she has presided over the worst dumbing-down of a British institution that I have ever witnessed and has reduced the Festival Hall, aka The People’s Palace, to little better than a doss house.

  • erich says:

    correction – a very down-market eatery with accomodation for dossers and somewhere on the side, incidental music….she’s one of the worst examples of a Labour luvvie….the saving grace is that under them, she’d probably now be a Dame!

    • Alexander Hall says:

      I wouldn’t disagree with that. Some very perceptive commentator in an earlier posting described the Southbank Centre (South Bank Centre that once was) as “a collection of restaurants and eateries with attached musical facility”. That says it all.

  • David says:

    There’s also an MBE for Anne Marsden Thomas and for professor of music education, Sue Hallam, plus quite a few Honours for much more ‘ordinary’ people who contribute to music education and music in their own communities. We shouldn’t forget all of those too.

  • CounterTenor says:

    Who would you nominate for a gong? There are plenty of performers who have one already. Whose turn is it?

  • David Jones says:

    Nice to see composer, arranger and conductor Guy Barker has received an MBE

  • Andy says:

    There are a few others not mentioned here….Carol Main, director of Live Music Now Scotland, for one…

  • Hilary says:

    Regular readers of this blog will no doubt score above the average of 5/14 in the Guardian’s exacting test on the year 2014 in the world of music. I scored 10.
    A major shaker and mover at the Southbank centre also scored a high mark.

  • Nick says:

    I have always wondered what is the point of the Honours system in this day and age! I can perhaps understand why those who make major contributions to charity should be worthy of greater public recognition. But in the field of music, why is it that certain talented individuals are more deserving than other talented individuals? Why do certain posts all but automatically carry with them a knighthood/damehood – GDs at the Royal Opera House, Directors of the RNT, Directors of the Edinburgh Festival etc. no matter how distinguished or otherwise – and some have certainly scored far lower than others)? Why do major conductors all but automatically gain a knighthood when almost none of the superb musicians who help them get to their lofty podiums rarely get even a lowly MBE?

    It seems more than anachronistic for the state to honour a tiny number of specific individuals. Some suggest it is an award for excellence. Yet vast numbers of citizens excel in their chosen professions and would never get close to an honours shortlist. Would it not be better for them simply to be abolished than for the biannual quizzing of who did, who didn’t and who should have?

  • Jill Davies says:

    Peter Holman is another MBE recipient missed, for services to early music.