Star organist Anna Lapwood awarded MBE in 2024 New Year Honours

29 December 2023, 22:30 | Updated: 30 December 2023, 11:50

Conductor and organist Anna Lapwood awarded MBE in 2024 New Year Honours
Conductor and organist Anna Lapwood awarded MBE in 2024 New Year Honours. Picture: Anna Lapwood

By Kyle Macdonald

The young organist, who has reached millions on social media, is one of a host of musicians named in His Majesty The King’s 2024 New Year Honours list.

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Some of classical music’s most influential figures have been named as part of His Majesty The King’s New Year Honours list for 2024, which was revealed on Friday night.

The list features honours for composers Paul Mealor and Judith Weir, and a number of well-known classical soloists, alongside leaders in music education and charitable work.

Anna Lapwood, the star organist, conductor and music director, has been awarded MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to music.

In 2016, when she was 21, Lapwood became the youngest person in history to hold the director of music position at an Oxbridge college when she became director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

The organist’s social media videos, which frequently showcase chance encounters with her instrument featuring Ludovico Einaudi, Benedict Cumberbatch and beyond have received millions of views. She has been credited for bringing new audiences to organ and church music, and was recently named one of TikTok’s 2023 Breakthrough Artists.

Within her role as choral conductor and concert soloist, Lapwood has championed girls’ choral singing, as well as women composers and organists.

Read more: Who is Anna Lapwood? The trailblazing organist and conductor’s age, biography and performances

How does a pipe organ actually work? | Anna Lapwood | Classic FM

“I still can't quite believe it, if I’m honest. It was a total surprise,” Lapwood told Classic FM on Friday. “I remember I had just gone to pick up my post from the Porters’ Lodge at Pembroke, was leafing through my letters, and saw one marked ‘On His Majesty's Service’ – I've never ripped something open that fast in my life!”

“I cried when I realised what it was. When you work as a musician, so much of what you do isn’t quantifiable or finite – your work on a certain piece is never ‘finished’, and your playing is always changing and developing. Receiving this award feels like something concrete – a deeply significant moment in my musical journey.”

Other recipients honoured in His Majesty’s 2024 list include Welsh composer Paul Mealor, who is awarded a LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) and Judith Weir, made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Both Mealor and Weir wrote choral music for The King’s Westminster Abbey Coronation in May 2023.

Soprano Carolyn Sampson, who in December released her 100th recording, harpsichordist and conductor Laurence Cummings, and James Ainscough, former CEO of the charity Help Musicians, are all awarded OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

Chief Executive to Classic FM’s Orchestra in North West England, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Michael Eakin, is also awarded an OBE.

Lady Victoria Susan Robey, co-founder of Music Masters, a UK-based music education charity that works with schools, teachers and arts organisations was awarded CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).

British lyricist Don Black, who penned lyrics for compsoers John Barry, Andrew Lloyd Webber and many more, was also awarded a CBE.

Joining Lapwood in being awarded MBE is pianist Margaret Fingerhut, for services to music and to charitable fundraising. Alongside being one of the nation’s finest piano soloists, Fingerhut led a campaign using the music of Ukrainian composer Sergei Bortkiewicz to raise money for emergency vehicles in Ukraine.

“I’m thrilled to be honoured with an MBE, especially for something so important to me,” Fingerhut told Classic FM.

“I’ve always aspired to be a musician who does not merely entertain people, but one that can make a real difference to communities in need through the power of music. I look forward to building on my recent work raising money for refugees, and am deeply touched that my efforts have been recognised with this award.”