Partly out of a sense of masochism, I suppose, I've been looking at the line up for the shortlist of this year's British Composer Awards. In the Choral category there are works by Alexander Campkin, Francis Pott and Michael Zev Gordon; in the orchestral it is Julian Anderson, Simon Bainbridge and Huw Watkins; Liturgical is Julian Anderson, Francis Grier and Gabriel Jackson. All well and good, very much a reflection of much that is going on in the musical world at the moment, albeit from a certain, non-experimental point of view.
If we turn to the stage category then things get interesting. Note that this is stage not opera. We have Orlando Gough's A Ring A Lamp A Thing, a solo piece performed as part of ROH's Opera Shots, Jody Talbot's score for Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, the Christopher Weeldon ballet premiered at the ROH, and Tim Minchin's Mathilda, the musical based on the Roald Dahl story premiered by the RSC. As you can see the chosen works are rather a varied lot and it seems a shame that we don't have a specifically operatic category. It would seem difficult for complex and difficult operatic works to compete with the populist works; and is it fair to consider ballet as a stage work without considering the choreography. Interesting though the works are, do they really represent the best of last year's music for the contemporary stage?
Or am I just being an old curmudgeon!