Sir Graham Vick CBE+, Founder Artistic Director, 30 December 1953-17 July 2021

Graham's productions were seen at La Scala, Milan; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Mariinsky Opera, St Petersburg; Maggio Musicale, Florence and many more. His production of Verdi's Falstaff opened the newly refurbished Royal Opera House and between 1992 and 2000 he was Director of Productions at Glyndebourne.

He won many international awards including the Premio Abbiati in Italy and The South Bank Show Award. He was a Chevalier de L'Ordres des Arts et des Lettres, Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham, International Chair of Opera at Royal Northern College of Music and was Visiting Professor of Opera Studies at Oxford University. He was awarded the CBE for services to Opera in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June 2009 and knighted in the New Year's Honours List 2021.

Throughout his career, Graham created projects designed to reach new audiences. It all started in his early 20s at Scottish Opera when he founded a small touring company to take opera to remote communities in the Highlands and Islands. In the 1980s he worked with a group of 300 unemployed young people on Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story in an abandoned mill in Yorkshire. In 1987 he came to Birmingham and founded Birmingham Opera Company with help from Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England. Graham viewed his work in Birmingham as entirely complementary to his international directing career and was adamant that excellence and accessibility are not at odds.

His pioneering work in Birmingham attracted the attention of people and companies worldwide. Birmingham Opera Company is now seen to be at the forefront of the modernisation of opera and a pioneer in its development as a 21st-century art form.

"You do not need to be educated to be touched, to be moved and excited by opera"

- Graham Vick, Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2016