Thank you, Sir Charles. I am enormously honoured to be receiving the Classic FM/Gramophone's Special Achievement Award and to have it presented by such a wonderful musician, and good friend.
However, this award is really for the Peter Moores Foundation and all those on the table number 1.
I have my Dad to thank for his cupboard-full of '78s recorded in the 1920s and 30s - these were mostly operatic, made by artists such as Marian Anderson, Clara Butt and Nelly Melba. I worked my way through all the records in that cupboard. They are what I brought myself up on, as a young lad.
Thank you to John Christie who gave me my first job in music. I was the Glyndebourne transport manager for the 1952 season (and I think I only missed one train).
Thanks to David Webster -general manager of Covent Garden Opera Company, who helped me into the Vienna Academy of Music and got me a place at the Vienna State Opera, where I gained fantastic first-hand stage experience as a production volunteer.
Without those early introductions to opera, I wouldn't have been able to do anything in the music world.
A decade later, in the early 1960s, I saw the opportunity to use some of my inheritance in the family business, Littlewoods, to set up my own charity, the Peter Moores Foundation. That was the beginning of being able to open doors for people.
Thank you to EMI: Reggie Goodall's Ring at The Coliseum had knocked me sideways. I thought 'This can't be lost' and I started knocking on doors. We were all very lucky that EMI needed a Ring and were happy to have one in English.
The live Ring recordings took four years - 20 CDs in four sets. After that came La traviata, Otello, Rigoletto, Mary Stuart, Julius Caesar, Osud and Eugene Onegin all in English. Then I think EMI got a bit fed up, either with opera in English or with my bossiness.
Looking round for another partner of equal recording prowess was a daunting prospect. So I was very lucky to be able to strike up a relationship with Chandos, with Brian Couzens and his son Ralph. They have perhaps had more patience with me and my odd ideas and my knowledge of young singers, many of whom I've been acquainted with since their college days. Thank you. At any rate, Chandos' technical expertise has made it possible to re-issue, to an impeccable standard, the earlier recordings we had made as well as a host of new recordings - a total of some 75 for the Opera in English catalogue. Right now we have two more in the pipeline for release, including a fantastic Salome made by Sir Charles which I know he is very proud of. There'll be more to come.
But I have missed out something very important.
The PMF was going in two completely different directions: one was recording standard opera for the ordinary man and woman in the street (what some of us oldies would call your typical Carl Rosa repertory) and therefore sung in English translation.
BUT - and it's a very big BUT, something else happened. 50 years or so ago I went into an old bookshop in Southport and discovered some old scores of 'L'Esule di Roma' by Donizetti and Act II of Rossini's Il Turco in Italia. But they were manuscript orchestral scores. What could I do with them when my sight-reading doesn't even get to playing my printed piano scores? Basically if you wanted to hear what a score of a rarely performed work sounded like, you had to find someone who could play it to you - in Lancashire. Then I heard that a company called Opera Rara had recorded Ugo Conté di Parigi. I rang Don White and Patric Schmid, the company's co-founders, and said 'let's meet' - which we did at the Royal Festival Hall café. I asked them 'Why don't you make more recordings?' - to which their reply was 'Well we can't until we get Don White's money back on this one'. To which I replied, 'Well I can provide some funds, if you'll record Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool. So we did pay for their next recording (Maria Padilla), and then we recorded Emilia - and went on from there to develop a great recording partnership. An enormous part of its success was down to the inspirational knowledge and flair of Patric Schmid. In spite of his death three years ago, we've managed to complete 54 recordings - and there's more to come.
I am enormously grateful to him for all he did in excavating so many hidden treasures from obscure corners of the bel canto repertoire and even more so for making these recordings so irresistible. These are operas that you couldn't ever hear if it hadn't been for the passionate dedication of Patric Schmid. Thank you.
Lastly I want to thank every member of every orchestra, every member of every chorus, every singer and every conductor, and all my patient and dedicated recording colleagues in each EMI, Chandos and Opera Rara recording we have made. Thank you to every trustee of my foundation for putting up with me over many years, because this special award truly belongs to THEM.
Above all I want to thank all of you here today - including critics - (all part of) the recording industry. Nowadays we all have something no one had when I was a child - access to the whole world of classical music, well known or recherché.
And thank you for letting me join in.