Sir Charles Groves Prize

The Sir Charles Groves Prize, established in 1990, recognises the outstanding contribution that individuals and organisations make to the musical life of the UK.

The prize honours the remarkable contribution of Sir Charles to both amateur music, as a former president of Making Music, and to British musicianship and composition. It was launched to mark the renowned conductor's 75th birthday.

2020 winners: Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE and Professor Martin Ashley

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, Founder and Artistic & Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation was awarded the prize for her outstanding work in increasing and showcasing the diversity of talent in classical music, and Professor Martin Ashley, Editor-in-Chief of the Association of British Choral Directors’ Choral Directions Research was awarded the prize for research into the implications of Covid-19 for choirs and supporting music groups had a major impact on both professional and leisure-time singing activity UK, working tirelessly to disseminate scientific evidence to the public, policy makers and stakeholders.

“I’m deeply honoured to be receiving the Sir Charles Groves Prize alongside Professor Martin Ashley. It’s humbling to be counted among such illustrious recipients of this award – peers, mentors and icons who have inspired me over nearly 40 years of working in this industry. My firm belief has always been that classical music is for, and should be, accessible to everyone, no matter your social or economical background or where you're from. My aim with the Chineke! Foundation has been to give Black and ethnically diverse musicians and audiences a point of reference, a space where they can belong and access a treasure trove of music as well as to share the opportunities and benefits the state education system gave me in music. The industry is gradually looking as though it wants to open up, become more diverse, inclusive and offer a sense of belonging, so if I have helped to facilitate that change then all is well.” - Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE

“This award came out of the blue and I was, of course, delighted and honoured to receive it. Many people in many walks of life have struggled during the pandemic, but the valiant efforts of music leaders to keep their choirs and orchestras together have received disappointing little recognition outside their immediate sphere of activity. So, I would like, through this award, to recognise and pay tribute to their efforts, without which we would be facing a future of rebuilding music groups from almost nothing.” - Professor Martin Ashley

Barbara Eifler, Making Music Chief Executive, said: “This award recognises Chi-chi Nwanoku’s outstanding work in increasing and showcasing the diversity of talent in classical music. On top of all her own professional engagements, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to classical music, has role models and pathways into this music, and is able to build a sustainable career within it. Chi-chi does not just talk the talk, but walk the walk – as well as being an articulate speaker on inclusion and access, she’s a doer who just went ahead and set up the Chineke! Foundation, to start making things happen that nobody else was doing – truly an inspiration to us all.”

“Professor Martin Ashley can truly be said to have rescued many singers and choirs from the lowest of emotional lows during the last 18 months [durnig the pandemic]. In March 2020, he immediately started collecting research studies and evidence about singing and Covid, in order to inform and advise choirs with the best possible data and risk mitigations from around the world. His clear, well-reasoned and science-based approach has helped many choirs gain valuable perspective and plan ahead to safe meetings in person. Over the last 15 months, he has been tireless in speaking at innumerable events and generous with his time in responding to the needs of singers and choirs in the UK. I am very pleased that his work is being recognised with this unique and prestigious award.”


Past winners

2020: Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE and Professor Martin Ashley
2018: Take It Away
2016: Sir Karl Jenkins
2014: Nicola Benedetti
2013: Darren Henley
2012: Gareth Malone
2011: Sing Up
2010: Sir Colin Davis
2009: Larry Westland CBE
2008: Susannah Simons and Roger Wright
2007: Howard Goodall
2006: Glastonbury Festival for Contemporary Performing Arts
2005: Gavin Henderson
2004: Clive Gillinson
2003: Christopher Bell
2002: The Lindsays
2001: Philip Langridge
2000: Edinburgh International Music Festival