Thursday 24 October 2013

British Composer Awards - 2013 short-list announced

Orchestral - Harrison Birtwistle - British Composer Awards 2012 photo Mark Allan
Harrison Birtwistle collecting the Orchestral award
British Composer Awards 2012
photo Mark Allan
The short list for this year's British Composer Awards was announced today by the British Academy of Songwriters and Composers (BASCA). The awards ceremony takes place on 3 December 2013 at the Goldsmiths Hall, when the winners in each of the 13 categories will be announced: Instrumental Solo or Duo, Chamber, Vocal, Choral, Wind Band or Brass Band, Orchestral, Stage Works, Liturgical, Sonic Art, Contemporary Jazz Composition, Community or Educational Project, Making Music Award, International Award. With three works being shortlisted in each category.

The awards were founded in 2003 and celebrate the music of contemporary British composers, apart from the International Award, the composers must either be British or have been resident in the UK for 5 years, and the works celebrated are those premiered in the UK in the previous year.

Over 300 works were submitted this year, by 200 composers. On the short list, only one composer is represented twice, Gabriel Jackson is represented by Choral Symphony (Choral) and Cantate Domino (Liturgical).

Two nominated composers works were submitted posthumously: Jonathan Harvey and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Jonathan Harvey's Cirrus Light (Instrumental Solo or Duo) was one of his last compositions, written from a wheelchair while suffering from Motor Neurone disease, inspired by the changing colours of cirrus clouds in a summer sky. Surprisingly, this is the first time Sir Richard Rodney Bennett has been nominated. Colloquy with God (Choral) is the last work he composed, a setting of a very moving poem by Sir Thomas Browne for four male voices, dedicated to the vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a number of young composers are represented. Raymond Yiu's The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured (Orchestral) is his first major orchestral composition. Benjamin Wallfisch's Chopin's Waterloo (Chamber) was co-commissioned by the Wimbledon Music Festival.

The Olympic legacy features large with three works in the shortlist were written for the Cultural Olympiad: Stephen McNeff's The Chalk Legend (Making Music), a large scale multi-media event inspired by the discovery of a Viking grave in Weymouth; James Redwood's Pass The Torch, An Olympic Symphony (Community or Educational Project), and Oliver Searle's Technophonia (Community or Educational Project).

In the Stage Works category (always one dear to my heart) there is Imago by Orlando Gough (written for Glyndebourne's education arm), The Fire-work Maker's Daughter by David Bruce (written for the Opera Group, see my review) and George Benjamin's wonderful Written on Skin (co-commissioned by Covent Garden, see my review).

The Choral Category in addition to Jackson's Choral Symphony and Bennett's Colloquy with God contains James MacMillan's Since it was the Day of Preparation, so I certainly don't envy the judges there. The Liturgial Category contains Jackson's Cantate Domino, O Oriens by Cecilia MacDowell (a setting of one of the O anthems written for Merton College, and I took part in a performance of the work in December 2012 so can testify to its beauty and effectiveness), and Matthew Martin's I Saw the Lord, written for Daniel Cook and St. David's Cathedral Choir.

The Orchestra Category includes John Pickard's Tenebrae based on the music of Gesualdo, written for the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins, and given its UK premiere by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Brabbins; Joseph Phibbs' Rivers to the Sea written for the eighteen birthday celebrations of The Anvil and premiered by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen. Yiu's The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Long Yü at the Barbican.

2013 British Composer Awards Shortlist

Instrumental Solo or Duo
Cirrus Light by Jonathan Harvey
Darkness Visible by George Nicholson
Gigue Machine by Harrison Birtwistle

Chopin’s Waterloo by Benjamin Wallfisch
Fletch by Rebecca Saunders
String Quartet No. 4 by Colin Matthews

A Pretence of Wit by Edward Nesbit
Electra Mourns by Brian Elias
Flesh and Blood by David Sawer

Choral Symphony by Gabriel Jackson
Colloquy with God by Richard Rodney Bennett
Since it was the Day of Preparation… by James MacMillan

Wind Band or Brass Band
4 Diversions after Benjamin Britten: Four Centenary Tributes for Brass Band by Simon Dobson,
Gavin Higgins, Paul McGhee, Lucy Pankhurst
Mysteries of the Horizon by Nigel Clarke
Symphony in two movements by Edward Gregson

Rivers to the Sea by Joseph Phibbs
Tenebrae by John Pickard
The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured by Raymond Yiu

Stage Works
Imago by Orlando Gough
The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by David Bruce
Written on Skin by George Benjamin

Cantate Domino by Gabriel Jackson
I saw the Lord by Matthew Martin
O Oriens by Cecilia McDowall

Sonic Art
5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun by Caroline Devine
Dart for Solo Cello, Delays and Digital playback by Tom Williams
No Such Object (Speed of Light) by Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Iris Nonet by Trish Clowes
Lifelines by John Surman
Songs to the North Sky by Tim Garland

Community or Educational Project
Elemental Songs and Dances by Richard Bullen
Pass the Torch, An Olympic Symphony by James Redwood
Technophonia by Oliver Searle

Making Music Award
Dry Stone Walls of Yorkshire by Peter McGarr
Screech by Kerry Andrew
The Chalk Legend by Stephen McNeff

International Award
Symphony No. 8 by Per Nørgård
The Importance of Being Earnest by Gerald Barry
Woven Dreams by Toshio Hosokawa

From 23 - 25 November the shortlisted works will be previewed on BBC Radio 3 and the winning works will be broadcast in Here and Now on Saturday 7 December.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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