Dame Gillian Whitehead has many honours and awards to her name for her distinctive chamber, choral, orchestral and operatic compositions and her many CDs. But receiving the Arts Foundation Arts Icon medallion on Wednesday, she says, was truly remarkable.
There are only twenty Icons at any one time, and when one dies their medallion is passed on to the next senior and distinguished artist chosen to take on the mantle.
Dame Gillian also taught music for many years but these days is a full time and busy composer who's in demand here and overseas.
Lynn Freeman speaks to her.