HRH admitting Patricia Rozario to  Fellowship, copyright Chris Christodoulou

Goan-origin soprano Patricia Rozario was presented with the Fellowship of the Royal College of Music award at the hands of HRH the Prince of Wales Prince Charles at a star-studded ceremony at the institution’s Amaryllis Fleming concert hall in central London on 14 May 2014. The Prince of Wales is the President of the Royal College of Music.

Each year the Royal College of Music bestows awards and fellowships on individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to their field in music and to the wider musical community.

The List of Fellows of the RCM through history reads like a veritable Who’s Who of music: Conductors including Arturo Toscanini, Thomas Beecham, Malcolm Sargent, Adrian Boult, Leopold Stokowski, Vernon Handley, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado, Georg Solti, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel, Trevor Pinnock, Roger Norrington, Jane Glover, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Colin Davis, Andrew Davis, Esa-Pekka Salonen ; composers Ralph Vaughan Willams, William Walton, Gustav Holst, Imogen Holst, Edward Elgar, Frederick Delius, Arthur Bliss, Hamilton Harty, Granville Bantock, Benjamin Britten, Frank Bridge, Arnold Bax, Michael Tippett, Krzysztof Penderecki, Oliver Knussen, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Judith Weir; pianists Arthur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter, Daniel Barenboim, Moura Lympany, Mitsuko Uchida, András Schiff, Barry Douglas, Melvyn Tan; organists Stephen Cleobury, Simon Preston; violinists Yehudi Menuhin, Igor Oistrakh, Ida Haendel, Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Levon Chilingirian; cellists Pablo Casals, Paul Tortelier, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pré, Julian Lloyd Webber, Lynn Harrell; singers Plácido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, Felicity Lott, Janet Baker, Emma Kirkby, Simon Keenlyside; and pedagogues Nadia Boulanger and Dorothy DeLay.

At the most recent ceremony this month, Rozario was joined by other ‘outstanding figures from Britain’s musical life’ (to quote from the Prince of Wales’ official website) notably Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the world’s most successful West End composers, and pianist Murray Perahia, who received Honorary Doctorates; and violinist Nicola Benedetti, who also received a Fellowship.

Colin Lawson, director of the Royal College of Music, said in a statement, “I am delighted that the Royal College of Music continues to honour such illustrious and diverse musicians with our annual awards.” 

In the official press release letter from the desk of Prince Charles in his capacity as President of the Royal College of Music, Rozario was described as follows: “Patricia Rozario OBE…has been vocal professor [at the RCM] since 2006. She has pursued a versatile career during which her distinctive artistry has inspired over fifteen of the world’s leading composers to write for her, notably Arvo Pärt and the late Sir John Tavener. She has sung opera at Aix-en-Provence, Amsterdam, Lyon, Lille, Bremen, Antwerp, Wexford, ENO [English National Opera], Glyndebourne and Opera North, and given concerts in North America, Canada, Russia, the Far East, Australia, throughout Europe, and at all the major UK venues. In 2010, Patricia initiated a singing teaching programme in India. This project, Giving Voice to India, develops local talent in the techniques of western singing.”

Rozario is only the second Indian after Maestro Zubin Mehta to be conferred a Fellowship. This latest accolade now joins other honours and titles previously conferred upon her: the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year’s Honours List in 2001, the Asian Women’s Award for Achievement in the Arts in 2002, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the President of India in 2013.

In a telephone interview to me from London, Rozario related her experience of the ceremony. “It was a very moving and exciting experience to receive this very special Fellowship FRCM from the Prince of Wales. He said he was very happy that I had been recognised for what I had done and achieved. He asked me about Goa and said he hadn’t managed to visit yet. He also said he was distraught that Sir John Tavener was with us no more.”

When I mentioned the acknowledgement of Giving Voice to India in the press release, she was excited about two new developments of GVS (Giving Voice Society):

“Our GVS opera project- Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell – will have performances in Pune, Mumbai, Goa and Delhi over July-August this year. We have an all-Indian cast of our students from different parts of the country, an Indian director – Rehan Engineer and conductor- Parvesh Java.”
“Also, GVS together with DHF (Deccan Heritage Foundation) are planning the Reis Magos International Festival of Music. This will take place on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December 2014 at the fort. It will be an annual festival.”

(An edited version of this article appeared in the Navhind Times Buzz supplement on 20 May 2014)