Arise, Sir Bryn…. and other honours

Arise, Sir Bryn…. and other honours


norman lebrecht

December 31, 2016

The baritone Bryn Terfel has been knighted and percussionist Evelyn Glennie made a Companion of Honour (CH) in the UK list of New Year’s Honours.


The conductor Jeffrey Tate also received a knighthood, as did Barry Ife, outgoing head of the Guildhall School.

There are OBEs for City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra chief exec Stephen Maddocks and LSO outgoing chairman Lennox Mackenzie.

The countertenor Iestyn Davies gets an MBE.

Elsewhere, the tenor Michael Schade has been made an Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada.



  • Petros Linardos says:

    Am I alone in thinking that Sir (!) Jeffrey Tate is a great conductor who richly deserved his 1980’s stardom? I don’t understand what happened to his career in the last couple decades. Did he fall out of fashion? That could perhaps be said of his excellent Mozart recordings. On the other hand, his Hansel und Gretel sounds timelessly exquisite to me,

  • Andrew says:

    And STILL no knighthood for Julian Bream! An outrage.

  • V.Lind says:

    No, Michael Schade has been made an OFFICER of the Order of Canada. As has Russell Braun. And Howard Shore. And Katherine Carleton, an orchestra advocate, whatever that is, but it sounds useful in this day and age. And Andre Bourbeau, a politician who devoted some of his attention to the promotion of musical projects: the establishment of the Vocal Arts Fund, the renovation of Jeunesses Musicales Canada House and the creation – with Joseph Rouleau – of the Concours musical international de Montréal, of which he is President.

    Canada did not ignore music, even in an Olympic year. (How they missed young Penny Oleksiak, who won FOUR swimming medals — at 16! — including a gold, is beyond me).

    Happy New Year, all.

    • Nick says:

      “How they missed young Penny Oleksiak, who won FOUR swimming medals — at 16! — including a gold, is beyond me”

      I have always wondered when it became fashionable to award honours to those under around 50 and why it is that today so many obtain virtually the highest honours long before they are anywhere close to that age.

      I believe it used always to be the case that honours were awarded for service over most of a career or lifetime. For whatever reason, it has become fashionable for them now to be dished out almost as soon as an individual has reached a degree of international achievement and popularity.

      This is most obvious in sports where Damehoods and Knighthoods are becoming the norm. Fred Perry won something like 8 Grand Slams and 4 Davis Cups in a glittering career with not even an MBE. No doubt that was because he became a US citizen at the age of 29. Yet at the same age Andy Murray with 3 Grand Slams, 1 Davis Cup and 2 Olympic Golds is now Sir Andy. In saying that I mean to take nothing whatever away from Murray’s astonishing achievements, especially this last year. Indeed, I take nothing away form the remarkable achievements of all those in sport now calling themselves Sir or Dame. But with life expectancy around 80+, there is only a clutch of more senior honours left – as with the CH given today to Dame Evelyn Glennie and Sir Richard Eyre. So what are these sports heroes to be doing with the rest of their lives. I fully accept that athletes peak around 30 whereas musicians generally take much longer. But shouldn’t a major honour wait until they have shown further commitment to the sport/society? The achievements up to now can never be taken away.

      In music, it seems youth is again winning out compared to years ago. Did Dame Kiri Te Kanawa deserve her honour at age 38 more than Kathleen Ferrier’s CBE (given Ferrier’s extraordinary achievements at that particular time) at age 40? Sir Bryn Terfel and Sir Thomas Allen had equally distinguished earlier careers and waited till they were 54 and 51 respectively.

      I suppose it was The Beatles who first came away with the minor honour of MBEs when they were in their mid-20s. They, though, had earned the UK vast amounts of foreign currency at a time when the nation desperately needed it. And it no doubt helped that the Prime Minister of the day came from Liverpool!

  • Alexander says:

    If anyone who deserved a knighthood has been overlooked it surely must be James Bowman.

    • Robert King says:

      Hear, hear!

      • Robert King says:

        To add detail to my comment above re James Bowman:
        James of course received a CBE some years back: as a parallel, Emma Kirkby received her DBE after her CBE, not just for being a fabulous singer who brought global recognition to British music, but in addition for all the good works she has done, quietly, without fanfare or recognition, for generations of musicians around her over the decades – as happy to encourage the most average of amateur singers as she is to sing at the highest international level. It is now overdue that James is “upgraded” for being a similarly outstanding and unique singer, but also (like Emma) for adding all that he has quietly done behind the scenes for generations of musicians of all levels.

  • Susan B says:

    Agreed. Iestyn Davies is a fine young singer of much promise but even he should be embarrassed at receiving even this minor honour ahead of countless of his older colleagues who have been continually overlooked. Doubtless it was his management who nominated him – and good luck to them – but it does make something of a mockery of a supposedly merit- and contribution-rewarding system if someone receives an MBE for merely fulfilling a diary of engagements. “Did his job well” shouldn’t be enough, and never used to be.