May
In the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2009, Sir Charles won Disc of the Year 2009 for his Mozart Symphonies 38 - 41 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The Gramophone
‘There is no need to argue the credentials of Sir Charles as a Mozart interpreter, so let us just say that it is every bit as good as you would expect... full of wisdom and leaving the listener in no doubt of the music's greatness'

PMF has worked with Sir Charles to produce thirteen recordings on the Chandos Opera in English label and one on Opera Rara.
Into the Little Hill won the RPS 2009 award for Large-Scale Composition:

‘The jury was impressed by the sheer skill with which the composer has created a work of immense expressive power, inventiveness, drama and beauty, of a stature way beyond the sum of its physical and temporal parts. With Into the Little Hill George Benjamin has provided music theatre with a work for our time.’

The Daily Telegraph
'When I first heard George Benjamin's one-act opera Into the Little Hill two years ago, I tentatively suggested that it might be a masterpiece – not a word to be trifled with. A second hearing, in a superb performance by the Opera Group authoritatively conducted by the composer, confirms my judgment that this is something quite exceptional, both in the originality of its form and the depth of its inspiration.'
April
Sir Charles Mackerras tops BBC Music Magazine Awards
Royal Philharmonic Society awards George Benjamin's Into the Litlle Hill
English Pocket Opera's Cinderella
Peter Moores Foundation has supported English Pocket Opera since 2002. Recently it merged with Children's Music Workshop to form Music Platform. Each year it produces a Big Opera Project and for 2009 it is Rossini’s Cinderella, which will involve over 11,000 children from 70 schools across London.

EPOC first staged Cinderella in 1993 when a 12 year old audience member, Olivia Ray was inspired to become an opera singer. She went on to develop a successful opera career and the work of EPOC comes full circle as Olivia takes on the role of Cinderella in this year’s production!
In February and March 2009, The Opera Group toured with George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill and Harrison Birtwistle's Down by the Greenwood Side.

The Independent
4 stars
'Heroically playing all the parts in this pullulating scenario, soprano Claire Booth and mezzo Susan Bickley make a fine vocal match, greatly helped by the fact that Benjamin's word-setting is as expressive as Debussy's in 'Pelleas et Melisande'. The orchestral writing, meanwhile, responds with delicate precision to Crimp's terse and vivid poetry. Read cold, the libretto raises 'issues' – child-abduction, the politics of immigration – but in performance these are so muted as to be barely perceptible. Every piece of music leaves its own particular silence in its wake: the silence left after this work's last notes sounded was exquisite.

But this was only half of a brilliant double-bill which Opera Group is now taking on national tour: the other part is a revival of Harrison Birtwistle's rumbustious pastorale 'Down by the Greenwood Side', with Claire Booth playing the central character as a bag-lady. If John Fulljames's direction of the Benjamin – abetted by Soutra Gilmour's designs - is a model of refined restraint, his treatment of this semi-spoken parable of murder and miraculous rebirth (to Michael Nyman's libretto) is spirited and wonderfully coarse-grained – which can also be said of the orchestra and actors. Pip Donaghy makes the sleaziest Father Christmas I've ever seen.'

The Daily Telegraph
'Benjamin's score inhabits the text with absolute assurance: not a note is wasted, the dramatic pacing is impeccably controlled. The word-setting is always pellucid and sometimes lyrical, the orchestration (an ensemble of 15 includes bass flute, basset horns, contrabass clarinet, cornets and cimbalom) luminous, subtle and delicate. Most strikingly imaginative of all, however, is the way that Benjamin creates a world of sound, quite unlike any other... it left me both stunned and elated. A masterpiece, no question.

Into the Little Hill was preceded by Harrison Birtwistle's 1969 forceful and arresting one-acter Down by the Greenwood Side, based on Mummers' plays and folk rituals.Singing, acting and staging were excellent.'

Rating:
Into the Little Hill *****
Down by the Greenwood Side ****
The Opera Group tour a double bill
February
December
Adès's The Tempest available on disc
Thomas Adès conducted his opera The Tempest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2007, EMI Classics in association with BBC Radio 3 recorded it and Peter Moores Foundation supported the release of the recording in June 2009.

The Guardian

CD of the week

'Based on Shakespeare but reworked and condensed into three acts by librettist Meredith Oakes, the text is easily audible, with the sound balance slightly favouring the voices, but not detrimentally.

Many of the outstanding cast created their roles in the original 2004 staging, including baritone Simon Keenlyside as a noble, perplexed Prospero, tenor Ian Bostridge as the strange, wretched Caliban and Cyndia Sieden as Ariel, leaping to her stratospheric high notes with ethereal agility. Her set pieces, such as "Five fathoms deep/ Your father lies" and "He and your brother/ Stare and shudder" beautifully capture the character's supernatural, asexual nature. The flourishes and ornaments in the vocal writing have the feel of Monteverdi through a prism of modernity.'

Gramophone

'The Tempest will remain one of his most significant achievements... Adès's second opera succeeds where most Tempest adaptations have failed: in adding something to Shakespeare's magical and inherently lyrical scenario. From the tornado-like prelude to Ariel's stratospheric yet ethereal "Five fathoms deep" the music illuminates rather than merely illustrates the drama... it is one of the most viable and stageworthy of modern British operas. '
October
John Lucas’s biography of Reginald Goodall is available again
June
Updated and reprinted as a paperback, John Lucas’s superb biography of Goodall has been newly published as The Genius of Valhalla, using the title of a successful event in November 2008 at The Coliseum to celebrate the great Wagnerian conductor, Reginald Goodall.

Following the Chandos Opera in English issue of the acclaimed 1968 BBC recording of Wagner’s Mastersingers conducted by Reginald Goodall, Peter Moores Foundation decided to produce this event, where it became obvious that the John Lucas biography was held in high regard, not least by the panel and the Chairman, Humphrey Burton, who ended the panel discussion by saying:

‘These are the last lines of this wonderful biography:
“He spent much of the time listening to tapes of the Bayreuth Ring on a pair of headphones he’d been given...” Annie Evans went down to see him just before he died and he said to her, ““I’d like to have one last go at The Ring dear. I never got bits of it right. It’s the work of a lifetime.”
That night while listening to Götterdämmerung he drifted into a coma and never came out of it.”

I commend the book to you.’
March
The Opera Group introduce an opera-in-progress
In March 2009 at The Royal Institution of Great Britain, The Opera Group revealed a new opera-in-development, The Lion’s Face, a work exploring dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease. Working in partnership with the Institute of Psychiatry and Kings College London, composer Elena Langer, librettist Glyn Maxwell and Artistic Director John Fulljames will create a work that describes the experiences of the patient, the carer and the research scientist. It is scheduled to tour in Spring/Summer 2010.

John Fulljames says
“Opera seems to be the ideal art-form in which to explore a retreat into an inner world in which the patient’s ability to communicate with the world diminishes. One of the aims of the project is to find ways of communicating the experience of being touched by the condition with a view to increasing public understanding.”