Graham Vick was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, the annual awards for live classical music-making in the UK. This is a transcript of his speech, 'You do not need to be educated to be touched, to be moved and excited by opera'.

"Any work of art worth its salt contains the demand for change. So it’s no surprise that our most conservative of countries should feel challenged by the very concept of art, just as it’s always been challenged by the concept of religion; never more so than now. But King Canute got his feet wet, change happens and the country of my childhood, which struggled to pull together and build a better future for its young, instead has built today’s dangerously divided society - divided by opportunity, race, religion and above all, by wealth.

How can we bind this fractured world together? Where can we look for our common humanity? I look for it in music. Music already belongs to everyone. The democratic wonder of opera is that we all of us already share the material - it is of us. We have been singing stories for as long as we have existed. The music has always been in us and the stories always about us. However new or strange or alien a creation may seem, it can only be made from what already exists. Insights, leaps of the imagination, never-heard-before sounds can all be broken down to the familiar. Stockhausen’s Wednesday from Light is a dazzling riff on the theme that to receive music is only a matter of tuning in, like a radio receiver. All sound, all thought, shares roots. Our work is the revelation of what is. This boundless mystery can’t be captured on a printed page - it’s only music when given life and breath in performance - when heard, experienced - when the listener is a participant contributing through their own existence to their own unique work of art."

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