Michael Berkeley has been part of the British music world for many years, and he has made a lot of notable contributions to that aspect of the arts. In 2012 his contributions were honoured with an appointment as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music, and now he has been made a non-party political life peer in the House of Lords; the announcement was made by the Appointments Committee this week.
The 64-year-old composer and broadcaster said that he appreciated the honour and was especially pleased that the Committee seems eager to include more representatives of music and the arts in their selections. Berkeley is perhaps best known to the general public as the host of Radio 3’s award-winning weekly programme Private Passions, a niche he has occupied for more than fifteen years.
Roger Wright, controller at Radio 3, commented that in addition to his talents as a composer, Lord Berkeley is a skilled and empathetic interviewer whose conversations with guests on the show are “engaging and insightful.”
Beginning with his time as a chorister at Westminster, Berkeley has been involved with music and composition all his life. In 1977 he won the Guinness Prize for Composition, and soon after that he was chosen as Associate Composer for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has been a major contributor in numerous arts and music organisations including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the New York Philomusica, the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet and many others.
Berkeley’s compositions including an oboe concerto, librettos and operas, have been performed worldwide, and he is known in Britain for his support of charitable institutions such as the UK’s oldest children’s charity, the Coran Foundation, and the Koestler Trust, which promotes art for prison inmates.