Anna Lapwood (Magdalen College, 2013) has recently become an Associate Artist of the Royal Albert Hall. The project is part of a wider push around innovation and diversity at the venue and aims to increase young people’s engagement with more traditional artforms. Her involvement will include a focus on commissioning young female composers.
The Artistic Director of the Hall, Lucy Noble, commented:
“This programme is about shining a light on this historic space – enabling old friends and new audiences to see it in a different way. We’re opening up the stage to these four fantastic artists, making it a place where we can challenge preconceptions, spotlight crucial contemporary issues, and inspire the next generation of creatives.”
Anna Lapwood is an organist, conductor, and broadcaster. She is Director of Music and a Bye-Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge (UK). As well as conducting the Pembroke College Chapel Choir she also runs the Pembroke College Girls’ Choir, an ensemble she set-up in 2018 to inspire girls aged 11 to 18 to explore the world of choral music.
While studying here at Oxford, Anna became the first female in Magdalen College’s 560-year history to be awarded the Organ Scholarship. Now performing organ concertos with leading orchestras and multiple recitals each season across Europe, Anna released her debut solo album ‘Images’ on Signum Records in 2021. The recording includes her transcription for organ of Britten’s ‘Four Sea Interludes’ from “Peter Grimes”; the sheet music is published by Boosey & Hawkes. A new anthology of organ pieces by female composers ‘Gregoriana’, commissioned and edited by Anna, was published in 2022 by Stainer & Bell.
In 2021 Anna made her BBC Proms debut as a soloist in Saint-Saëns ‘Organ Symphony’ with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by their Music Director, Sir Mark Elder, repeating the work later that month with conductor Kazuki Yamada and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Other recent performances include a concert with the BBC Singers for International Women’s Day 2022, conducted by Grace Rossiter and broadcast live on Radio 3; George Baker’s Toccata-Gigue for Classic FM from the Royal Albert Hall; an organ recital at St David's Hall, Cardiff for BBC Radio 3; and a performance of Poulenc’s ‘Organ Concerto’ with the London Chamber Orchestra conducted by Chloé van Soeterstède from St. John’s, Smith Square (London). In 2019 Anna opened the BAFTA TV awards on the organ of the Royal Festival Hall. Anna performs two organ recitals at the Aldeburgh Festival 2022 following her annual 24-hour Bach-a-thon from Pembroke College which raises money for the Muze-Pembroke Music Exchange Programme.
Making her TV presenting debut hosting coverage of BBC Young Musician, Anna was also invited to present a televised Prom from the Royal Albert Hall in 2021. In 2022 she served as an adjudicator for the Welsh choral competition, Côr Cymru, on S4C alongside Karen Gibson and Wyn Davies. As a radio broadcaster she is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and until July 2020 she hosted a live, weekly classical music show on Radio Cambridgeshire. Anna has also been featured on Classic FM and presented for Scala Radio.
The debut recording on Signum Records by Pembroke Chapel Choir and Pembroke Girls’ Choir, “All Things are Quite Silent” was released in 2020 to widespread critical acclaim. Two new albums will be released on Signum Records in 2022: “Celestial Dawn” recorded with Pembroke Girls’ Choir, and a Christmas album with both the Chapel Choir and the Girls’ Choir. Anna and the Pembroke Choirs were also invited to perform on “To Shiver the Sky” by Grammy-winning American composer, Christopher Tin, for Decca, recording at Abbey Road Studios.
Increasingly in demand as a guest conductor, Anna has also directed the BBC Singers as part of the Proms Inspire programme and has led choral workshops around the world. A strong advocate for music education at home and abroad, she specialises in bringing music to children from impoverished backgrounds. She is a Trustee of the Muze Trust, a charity committed to making music accessible to children and young adults in Zambia, in association with the Muze-Pembroke Music Exchange Programme. When the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to much of Anna's work in this area overseas she focussed her efforts closer to home, founding and conducting the NHS Chorus-19, made up of over 1000 NHS staff from across the UK. Anna also runs organ workshops for young players around the country including the Cambridge Organ Experience for Girls.
Having been encouraged to “play like a man” and with a dedication to her art and mission that belied her early years as a performer, Anna is now humbled to find that she is an inspiration to many young women and proud that they have adopted her hashtag, #playlikeagirl. She recently joined violinist Esther Abrami on her new series “Women in Classical” honouring women’s success in classical music and was featured in The Sunday Times discussing the Society of Women Organists Adjustable Bench Campaign.
Anna’s passion for the organ is matched by her mission to support girls and women in music. Her commitment to opportunity, equality and diversity is evident in almost every aspect of her life and work, especially in programming.
Find out more about Anna's work by visiting her website.