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As part of this year’s British Composer Awards, hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, we were delighted to present two composers with Gift of BASCA Awards. These were given in recognition of contributions to new music throughout their careers.

Sally Beamish was presented with the British Composer Award for Inspiration, presented in association with the Music Publishers Association, in recognition of her long and distinguished career as a composer, violist and pianist. Sally is a multi-award-winning composer, who has composed a huge volume of music throughout her career, including for orchestra, chamber, film, theatre, ballet, and compositions for amateurs. She is currently composer-in-residence at the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and co-directs the St. Magnus Composers’ Course in Orkney, where her wisdom and experience as a mentor has supported dozens of composers.

Ahead of the ceremony, we had a chat with Sally to find out about her career to date and what advice she can offer to composers.

How do you feel about receiving the British Composer Award for Inspiration from the composer community?

“This means so much to me – I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be considered an inspiration – having gained so much from the composers who generously gave me their time, support and advice when I was starting out. I’d like to mention in particular Martin Dalby, Oliver Knussen and Peter Maxwell-Davies, who have all recently died, and who were hugely important and inspirational to me.”

What has been the most pivotal moment in your career to date?

“Moving to Scotland. Being in a smaller, but vibrant, cultural scene opened up many possibilities in terms of collaborations and projects. And above all, the music and landscape were a revelation.”

What sparked your decision to develop a career as a composer, in addition to your existing profession as a violist?

“I always considered myself a composer, but two things combined to galvanise me into composing full-time – the theft of my viola in a burglary in 1989, and the birth of my first child in the same year. Composing is the perfect career for a parent as it is flexible. An Arts Council Composers Bursary gave me that extra encouragement to start a new life as a composer in Scotland.”

You’ve said the concerto is a continuing inspiration, what is it about this form of composition that you find so fascinating?

“When I was about 9, my mother, who taught me violin, gave me a Vivaldi concerto to learn and explained what a concerto was. I loved the idea of a soloist telling a story and interacting with orchestra and audience. I still do. The form has given me many opportunities to create work for specific performers, who often come with their own ideas for what kind of piece it might be.”

You have co-directed the annual St Magnus Composers’ Course in Orkney for a number of years. What drew you to be involved and why do you feel this setting in particular is so special?

“I have loved Orkney since I went there as Peter Maxwell Davies’ assistant for his courses on Hoy in the 90s. It became a special place for my family and hardly a year has gone by when I haven’t visited. The islands have a kind of magic which is hard to describe. When Alasdair Nicolson invited me to co-direct the composers’ course, I jumped at the chance – though with some trepidation, as I hadn’t done any regular teaching, and had never studied composition myself. But I have loved meeting the composers who come on the course – all ages and all backgrounds – and they always have something to give back.”

What advice would you give to an aspiring composer starting out today?

“Stick around performers – and perform yourself. If you don’t play an instrument, sing, or conduct your own work. I am learning a great deal about my own writing now I am playing again. And my commissions still often come via musicians I worked with when I was a full time viola player.”

Where do you personally find creative inspiration?

“From performers; and also from literature, art, theatre, and the natural world. Scottish traditional music has been very important in developing my voice, as has jazz. But sometimes, it just feels as if it’s the deadline (and fear!) that drives me on. Being creative doesn’t always feel creative – often it feels as if you’re just churning out notes – but afterwards you find that something else has been happening at a deeper level.”

A BBC Radio 3 exclusive broadcast of The British Composer Awards 2018 is available to listen to on BBC Sounds here.

The UK’s fourteen foremost composers have been announced at the 16th British Composer Awards, hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch at the British Museum in London. 

The winning works represent the best contemporary composition that premiered in the UK in the year leading up to 31 March 2018. In addition to the twelve category winners, two composers were presented with Gift of BASCA Awards in recognition of their contribution to new music. The evening also saw a powerful performance from musicians at the Royal Academy of Music for soprano and three clarinets, dedicated to one of the most influential British composers and conductors of his generation, Oliver Knussen, who died in July.

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

British Composer Awards 2018 Winners:

Amateur or Young Performers
Microscopic Dances by Oliver Searle

Chamber Ensemble
Libro di fiammelle e ombre by James Weeks

Choral
In the Land of Uz by Judith Weir

Community or Educational Project
The Umbrella by Liam Taylor-West

Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Afronaut by Cassie Kinoshi

Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Close to Ecstasy by Simon Lasky

Orchestral
Deep Time by Harrison Birtwistle

Small Chamber
Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders

Solo or Duo
The Harmonic Canon by Dominic Murcott

Sonic Art
Halfway to Heaven by Emily Peasgood

Stage Works
Shorelines by Oliver Coates

Wind Band or Brass Band
The Turing Test by Simon Dobson

British Composer Award for Innovation
Trevor Wishart

British Composer Award for Inspiration in association with the Music Publishers Association
Sally Beamish

Crispin Hunt, Chair at BASCA, said: “The passion, creativity and dedication to music demonstrated by this year’s winners is deeply inspiring and humbling. A record year for submissions, the new music landscape in Britain proves itself time and again to be more vibrant, dynamic and vivacious than ever, engaging with a diverse range of ideas and audiences. This is a hugely exciting time to be a creator or appreciator of new music.”

Nigel Elderton, PRS Chairman, said: “Congratulations from all of us at PRS for Music to the well-deserved winners from this year’s British Composer Awards, and thank you for the fantastic music you create which continues to enrich our lives.”

BBC Radio 3 will broadcast a programme dedicated to the British Composer Awards at 9.20pm on Sunday 9th December. For more information on this year’s British Composer Awards visit www.britishcomposerawards.com or follow @ComposerAwards.

The best new works by Britain’s contemporary composers have been announced today, with thirty-seven composers nominated for the 2018 British Composer Awards across 12 categories including orchestral, jazz, sonic art, chamber ensemble, stage works and wind or brass band.

Highlighting the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary composition in the UK today, the 2018 British Composer Awards nominees include: numerous works demonstrating the ways in which today’s composers give a voice to marginalised groups in society; compositions inspired by poetry and other artforms such as visual art and literature; and works that breathe new life and meaning into history.

Nominees giving a voice to disenfranchised groups in society include: a work by the world’s only ‘recovery’ orchestra (Conall Gleeson), composed and performed by an orchestra in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; an opera reviving forgotten music by history’s overlooked female composers (Tom Green); and music composed for disabled performers (Oliver SearleLiam Taylor-West).

Compositions taking inspiration from poetry and other artforms include: a piece drawing on world music and Indian poetry to build musical bridges between cultures (Roxanna Panufnik); a reimagining of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to apply to refugees in the world today, first performed by children who are refugees themselves (Dee Isaacs); and a brass band composition based on coal mining strikes and inspired by poet Mervyn Peake (Gavin Higgins).

Nominated composers reinterpreting and breathing new life into history include: a brass band piece inspired by the life of Alan Turing (Simon Dobson); an orchestral work exploring the notion of ‘Deep Time’ through music (Harrison Birtwistle); a sonic art installation celebrating the rediscovery of a forgotten Baptist Burial Ground (Emily Peasgood); and a full-length string concert inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953 (Oliver Coates).

A record-breaking year for entries, 2018 saw over 560 submissions, demonstrating the volume of quality new music being composed and debuted in the UK. This year all categories have been judged anonymously for the first time, and a second jazz category has been added. In 2018 51 per cent of the composer are aged under 40, and are first-time nominees.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

Crispin HuntChair at BASCA, said: “In this record-breaking year for entries, BASCA is delighted to celebrate the breadth of works for the British Composer Awards, representing a wealth of UK talent. As ever it’s hugely exciting and inspiring to see the fresh passion represented by our first-time nominees. Congratulations to everyone nominated today.”

Nigel EldertonPRS for Music Chairman, commented: “I am delighted for PRS for Music to once again be supporting the British Composer Awards, with its impeccable record of recognising the best contemporary classical works. It is inspiring to see that over half of this year’s nominated composers are aged under 40 and first-time nominees, showing that the UK classical music landscape is truly continuing to flourish. Congratulations to you all and I look forward to celebrating with you at the ceremony in December.”

Alan DaveyController BBC Radio 3, added: “Broadcasting the outstanding work of composers from across the UK – throughout our schedule – is an intrinsic part of our role to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture. We look forward to sharing highlights of this year’s awards and some of these marvellous new compositions on the station.”

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Presented by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the ceremony will include a performance in memory of nominated composer, Oliver Knussen and the presentation of two Gift of BASCA awards – the British Composer Award for Innovation and the British Composer Award for Inspiration, presented in association with the Music Publishers Association.

British Composer Awards 2018 Nominees:

Amateur or Young Performers
Works for voluntary, amateur or youth choirs and ensembles
• Fiery Tales by Richard Bullen
• Microscopic Dances by Oliver Searle
• The Caretaker’s Guide to the Orchestra by Jeremy Holland-Smith

Chamber Ensemble
Six or more instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Libro di fiammelle e ombre by James Weeks
• O Hototogisu! by Oliver Knussen
• Tanz/haus : triptych 2017 by James Dillon

Choral
A cappella or accompanied, except works for choir and orchestra
• In the Land of Uz by Judith Weir
• Mielo by Raymond Yiu
• Unending Love by Roxanna Panufnik

Community or Educational Project
Works demonstrating a composer’s work in community engagement alongside compositional craft
• Solace by Conall Gleeson
• The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- a retelling for our times by Dee Isaacs
• The Umbrella by Liam Taylor-West

Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Nine or more instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Afronaut by Cassie Kinoshi
• Rituals by Matt London
• Time by Finlay Panter

Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Up to eight instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Close to Ecstasy by Simon Lasky
• Vegetarians by Ivo Neame
• You’ve Got to Play the Game by Johnny Richards

Orchestral
• Deep Time by Harrison Birtwistle
• Recorder Concerto by Graham Fitkin
• The Imaginary Museum by Julian Anderson

Small Chamber
Three to five instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Chant by Charlotte Bray
• Lines Between by Robert Laidlow
• Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders

Solo or Duo
Instrumental or vocal music performed by one or two players or voices
• A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women by Laura Bowler
• Belmont Chill by William Marsey
• The Harmonic Canon by Dominic Murcott

Sonic Art
Sound art installations, electronic music and works with live electronics
• Halfway to Heaven by Emily Peasgood
• The Otheroom by Rolf Wallin
• Two Machines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Hugh Jones as ‘Crewdson & Cevanne’

Stage Works
Works specifically written for the stage, including opera, dance and musical theatre
• Shorelines by Oliver Coates
• The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès
• The World’s Wife by Tom Green

Wind Band or Brass Band
• Dark Arteries Suite by Gavin Higgins
• Mindscapes by Lucy Pankhurst
• The Turing Test by Simon Dobson

Works eligible for the 2018 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Works are also composed by a composer born in the UK or ordinarily resident in the UK.

For more information visit the British Composer Awards website

Entries are now open for the 2018 British Composer Awards.

Anyone, including the composer, can enter eligible works, and entries across all twelve award categories are judged anonymously.

Works that received a UK première performance, either live or broadcast, between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 are eligible across the following categories:

Amateur or Young Performers
Chamber Ensemble
Choral
Community or Educational Project
Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Orchestral
Small Chamber
Solo or Duo
Sonic Art
Stage Works
Wind Band or Brass Band

Entries are made via our Entry Site, where you can also find our full Rules and Guidelines and Eligibility Criteria.
Visit https://basca.secure-platform.com to enter works. The closing date for entries is Monday 9 July 2018.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

The British Composer Awards will take place on Tuesday 4 December in the BP Lecture Theatre and East Foyer of the British Museum, London.

@ComposerAwards
www.britishcomposerawards.com

Shiva Feshareki likes taking risks. Her first show performing with the jazz organist Kit Downes last year was not planned, rehearsed or even discussed in detail until the night of the show, despite it being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
While most performers might baulk at that prospect, particularly as it brought together the unlikely timbral coupling of Feshareki’s turntables with the organ at the Church of St John at Hackney, she was unfazed.The decision was a conscious one, she explains over Skype: “We didn’t want to plan anything, or talk about it too much, so that we could get into a really deep zone of free improvisation beyond our conscious thinking”. The piece revolved around huge blossoming drones with low end rumble, a sound like sputtering helicopter blades competing with the ecstatic chords of organ’s high soaring notes. “It was a massive success,” she says.
Feshareki describes herself as an experimental classical composer: “I’m experimental in the sense that I’m constantly trying to find new ways of thinking and new ways of working, but I’m classically trained at the Royal College of Music,” she says. She is also a turntablist, manipulating vinyl records using her own techniques, and hosts a radio show, ‘New Forms’, on London internet station NTS.

Winning Awards
She has just been awarded this years’ British Composer Award for Innovation, but her first prize came age 16, when she won the BBC Young Composer of the Year Award for her first notated work.
It was for two pianos, three violins and a vibrating tool she devised in the design and technology department, to ride on the strings inside the piano. While studying composition at Royal College of Music, she won the usually traditionally classical Concerto Competition, for a turntable concerto.
Feshareki identifies as a composer first and foremost, although she played violin for a short while. The 29-year old has just submitted her doctorate, and in September 2017 began a year as composer in residence at the Purcell School for Young Musicians. All this as well as presenting Occam River XV by French composer Eliane Radigue alongside a new work by computer and dance music producer Lee Gamble and the London Contemporary Orchestra, at the Great Masson Cave in the Peak District.
To get to the cave, the audience travelled by cable car to the top of the Heights of Abraham: “There’s this beautiful view of the Peak district and then you descend into this really deep cave,” Feshareki says, “and both Eliane and Lee’s music has this sense of depth.

“I wanted people to treat the art of listening in a different light,” she explains. “People travelled from all over the country, so they prepared themselves for an experience, they made an effort, a journey, and on the way back they could reflect on the experience.” Feshareki names early electronic composers like Radigue, as well as Dahne Oram and James Tenney, as massive influences on her work and process. “These composers have a much broader perspective on sounds,” she says. “It’s often an aesthetic that’s very unique and that has come out of experimentation. I love composers like this, firstly because they’re part of an era of music where people were really experimenting with new and radical ways of making music, and because they see a broader picture of sound that isn’t just music or composition, but is science and society as well.”
Feshareki’s activities, from commissions and performances, to collaborations and radio shows, always have a social element. She operates what has historically been a difficult space to navigate: between contemporary electronic music and formal classical composition, but she sees this as an opportunity to build new scenes through working with other people, collaborating with cellists Natalie Clein, DJ/Dance Music Producer Kasra V, gong and gamelan player Cathy Eastburn, singer-songwriter Laura Marling, and sound-artist Simon Fisher-Turner, amongst others.

 

 

Making a Scene
She explains that while she’s looking for collaborations that can raise questions in terms of composition and communication as well as sonically, the outward facing impact of a project is also crucial. “Through doing so many different types of collaborations with people from different worlds, it’s like I’m building my own artistic scene, the sort of scene that I’d like to see exist,” she says.

The scene Feshareki has seen manifesting this year, marked by cross-pollination, like Lee Gamble being interviewed on Radio 3, or music from her NTS shows starting to be used as repertoire. Before 2017 she spent time bouncing around absorbing disparate scenes and genres, seemingly disappearing from some because she had emerged in others. “There’s something really exciting about dipping your toes into different scenes” she says. “It’s really enlightening, you see that this scene works really differently to that one, in its audience or the way people work. I wish more artists had this opportunity, because it gives such a broad understanding of factors like artistic relevance and impact.”

This ‘one foot in, one foot out’ approach to engaging with the classical and contemporary experimental music scenes she traces to being born to Iranian parents and brought up in London: “For me it’s about how we can find a dialogue between all these scenes and these worlds to find a common ground,” she says. “As someone who has a heritage that’s different to the country that I live in, it brings a shift of perspective.” Feshareki can trace her route into composing back to vivid childhood memories of playing on her older brother’s Casio keyboard. “He’d be at school, and I’d come home from playgroup at noon, go to his room and play his keyboard. I still remember the pieces I wrote then, can still sit at the piano and play them.” Then in her late teens she became fascinated

with watching DJs with turntables at parties, the physical, gestural possibilities of the decks. She then started playing on a friend’s pair of Technics, toying with their sonic possibilities rather than beat-matching or DJing, seeing how she could change the sound of different movements, which resulted in her developing her own sampling and turntabling techniques.

“I try and reshape the idea of the turntable throughout my work,” she explains, describing how in one piece she took the concept of a spinning circle and applied it to a composition, “where the movement and speed of the turning table directly impacts the sounds created”. In a more recent composition for the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra titled ‘O’, Feshareki treated the orchestra as a giant turntable where the sound moved in circular direction.
She also uses these techniques on her NTS show, which she counts as artistic research, and a way to develop new work. As such, new techniques and ideas are tested live on air, sometimes without the listeners knowing. In one instance ten new tracks were made live on air, by pulling ten random records from her shelves and sampling them on the fly: “I listened back to hear what worked and what didn’t work. People might find that exciting, as there’s nothing polished about my shows. I always want to feel like I’m inviting other people in.”

 

Taking Risks
This rawness to her compositional practices leaves Feshareki open to failure, which she readily accepts. While experiments on NTS shows and her performance with Kit Downes were successes, things do go wrong: a collaboration with a YouTube gamer was a disaster she is reluctant to detail, but is honest and sanguine about risks not always paying off. She describes her ongoing collaboration with the sound artist Haroon Mirza as very productive and positive, but not because their performances have always gone right. One of their first projects at the ICA, with the London Sinfonietta in 2014, fell apart almost before it had started: “The work was so complex and so ambitious,” she says. “We had eight turntables, octagonal-designed LEDs, really specific staging, four videos and a big group of musicians. It’s was 50-minute piece, but within maybe the first two minutes everything malfunctioned and we had to stop the performance.”

While this sounds like a performer’s worst nightmare, Feshareki sees it as little more than a technical failure: “with these really exceptionally risky collaborations, I know they’ve been risky because they’ve massively failed at the time,” she explains, “and you feel awful when it happens, but then in retrospect you’re just so grateful for how it’s enriched you, your future work and your future thinking.”

 

In December, Feshareki has more risks planned, working with musician and guitar player Nik Colk Void and Mirza again, to activate the latter’s  installation at Zabludowicz Collection in London. When discussing possibilities for the residency, the conversation comes back around to her British Composer Award for Innovation, and the way her collaborations are part of a focus on reaching out to make conversations happen between people and between scenes: “It’s really important for me to try and raise these new questions, even if I can’t answer them myself,” she says. “With my compositions and with my artistic practice I want to raise new questions, then maybe other artists can answer them, creating new ways of working and new ways of thinking.”

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

Thirteen composers were honoured at the award ceremony hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch. The winning works represent the best contemporary composition that premièred in the UK in the year leading up to 31 March 2017. In addition, two composers were awarded the Gift of BASCA award in recognition of their contribution to new music. The ceremony highlighted the vibrancy and energy of composers in the UK today.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage. A programme dedicated to the British Composer Awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 10th December from 7.30pm.

Crispin Hunt, Chairman at BASCA, said: “The composers honoured this evening are testament to the UK’s thriving and vibrant new music community. Their creations challenge the status quo; push boundaries, celebrate our rich and diverse history, inspire and innovate at every turn. They demonstrate the positive impact of music on all our lives and it is an honour for BASCA to celebrate their achievements this evening.”

2017 British Composer Awards Winners:

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

Amateur or Young Performers
Who We Are by Kerry Andrew

Chamber Ensemble
Skin by Rebecca Saunders

Choral
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton

Community or Educational Project
Anything but Bland by Brian Irvine

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Muted Lines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian

Orchestral
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard

Small Chamber

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

In Feyre Foreste by Robin Haigh

Solo or Duo
Inside Colour by Deborah Pritchard

Sonic Art
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde

Stage Works
4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables

Wind Band or Brass Band
In Ictu Oculi by Kenneth Hesketh

British Composer Award for Innovation
Shiva Feshareki

British Composer Award for Inspiration in association with the Music Publishers Association
Nigel Osborne MBE

 

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

British Composer Awards 2017 Nominees Announced

Highly topical shortlist shines a light on composers engaging with current affairs, politics, and gender perceptions through music
Britain’s most talented young composers brought to the fore, with nearly half the nominees aged under 40
More women nominated than ever before, as record number of composers enter awards

 

Britain’s foremost contemporary composers have been revealed today, with thirty composers nominated for the British Composer Awards, spanning 33 works across 11 categories.
From a community project exploring the refugee crisis and featuring Donald Trump quotes, to a work examining societal perceptions of women through the metaphor of birds, to a composition calling on humankind to re-programme its attitude towards the natural world by giving nature a musical voice, the 2017 nominations underline the many ways in which contemporary composers are using music to engage in current affairs.

The 2017 nominations highlight the UK’s thriving contemporary music scene, with a record number of entries received this year (up by 18.5 per cent in 2016). The number of young composers nominated increased by 16 per cent, with 46 per cent of nominees under the age of 40, and the number of women nominated has continued to increase year on year, with women making up 42 per cent of the shortlist. Half the composers are first-time nominees.

Crispin Hunt, Chairman at BASCA, said: “Britain is home to a flourishing and bold community of enlightened and reformist contemporary composers, whose work continues to accelerate music’s role in society. The works nominated here speak to politics, ecology, art and history and somehow manage to distil the disorder about us into form. It’s inspiring to note a significant uplift in submissions this year, especially to see so many first-time nominees and young composers shortlisted – further testimony to the pioneering musical spirit of today.”

Composers exploring the refugee crisis in their work include: first-time nominated composer Emily Peasgood, whose Community Project ‘Crossing Over’ features quotes from Donald Trump and the voices of refugees, asylum seekers and British citizens to question the true meaning of ‘home’; Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s Contemporary Jazz Composition piece ‘Muted Lines’, which explores her family’s own experiences of the Armenian diaspora; and Kerry Andrew, whose Young/Amateur composition ‘Who We Are’ brings together five children’s choirs and addresses themes of identity and ‘otherness’.

Female composers and perceptions of women in society feature strongly in this year’s nominees, with nominated works including a composition by Emily Peasgood examining the language used to describe women in society today, and a Community Project by Brian Irvine celebrating Lilian Bland – the first woman in the world to design, build and fly an aeroplane. For the first time, there is an all-female Orchestral category (‘Torus’ by Emily Howard, ‘Two Eardley Pictures’ by Helen Grime and ‘Forest’ by Tansy Davies) and the only three composers with multiple works nominated are all women: Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Sally Beamish and Emily Peasgood.

Works exploring humankind’s relationship with nature include: ‘Forest’ by Tansy Davies, a piece that gives nature a musical voice in order to call on humans to become more compassionate towards the natural world; Kathy Hinde’s ‘Luminous Birds’, inspired by real birdsong; and ‘Inside Colour’ by Deborah Pritchard, a response to the beautiful colours of the aurora as seen from the International Space station.

For the full list of nominees by category see below.

Also honoured in the shortlist is the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, one of the foremost composers of our time. His opera for children ‘The Hogboon’ is nominated in the Amateur or Young Performers category and was composed to help children develop self-confidence, teamwork and musical skills. His influence can be found elsewhere in the shortlist with Sally Beamish’s Solo or Duo composition dedicated to her friend and mentor and composed on Sir Peter’s unused manuscript paper.

Other themes emerging from the nominees include works inspired by science, mathematics and mental health, and compositions influenced by writers and artists such as JMW Turner, Shakespeare, Austin Osman Spare, Joan Eardley and Sarah Kane. The nominations also shine a light on new talent in Jazz, with all three of this year’s nominated composers being first-time nominees.

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

The winners in each category will be announced at an awards ceremony presented by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch at the British Museum in London on Wednesday 6 December 2017. In addition to the 11 award categories, two composers will be honoured with a Gift of BASCA Award in recognition of their contributions to contemporary music throughout their careers, with one award for Inspiration (presented in association with the Music Publishers Association) and one for Innovation.


2017 British Composer Awards Nominations:

Amateur or Young Performers
The Feast That Went Off With A Bang by Ed Hughes
The Hogboon by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Who We Are by Kerry Andrew

Chamber Ensemble
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy

Choral
Affix Stamp Here by Leo Chadburn
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton
The Temptations of Christ by Barnaby Martin

Chamber Ensemble
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy

Choral
Affix Stamp Here by Leo Chadburn
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton
The Temptations of Christ by Barnaby Martin

Community or Educational Project
Anything but Bland by Brian Irvine
BIRDS and other Stories by Emily Peasgood
Crossing Over by Emily Peasgood

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Loop Concerto for jazz trio & large ensemble by Benjamin Oliver
Muted Lines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
You Are My World by Robert Mitchell

Orchestral
Forest by Tansy Davies
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard
Two Eardley Pictures by Helen Grime

Small Chamber In Feyre Foreste by Robin Haigh
Omloop Het Ives by Laurence Crane
Tuvan Songbook by Christian Mason

Solo or Duo
Inside Colour by Deborah Pritchard
Merula Perpetua by Sally Beamish
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Stuart MacRae

Sonic Art
cloud-cuckoo-island by Hanna Tuulikki
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde
Untitled Valley of Fear by Sam Salem

Stage Works
4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables
Empty Hand, Peaceful Mind by Ben Gaunt
The Tempest by Sally Beamish

Wind Band or Brass Band
Anemoi by Joseph Davies
Four Études by Edward Gregson
In Ictu Oculi by Kenneth Hesketh

For the second time, this year’s entries were judged anonymously for all categories apart from Community or Educational Project, Sonic Art and Stage Works – where the presence of the composer is often integral to the performance itself – and works could be submitted by the composers themselves.
Works eligible for the 2017 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017. Works must also have been composed by a UK-born composer, or ordinary resident in the UK.
For more information on this year’s British Composer Awards visit www.britishcomposerawards.com or follow @ComposerAwards.

“Great art needs to reflect the society it comes from” – IMG_6837 Alan Davey BBC Radio 3

Last week BASCA, with BBC Radio 3 hosted a Diversity and Inclusion in Classical Composition Conference at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester.
BASCA CEO Vick Bain opened the conference saying “This summer, BASCA published research that focused specifically on classical music composition. The large amount of applications we receive during the awards gives us the closest data set we have to a comprehensive list of new music commissions in the UK; in 2015 we received nearly 300 submissions from commissioned composers. Information on ethnic background showed that of these composers only 6% were of black and minority ethnic heritage. This is less than half the 14% of people in the general UK population…Aside from a moral obligation to make music more accessible to all communities, we at BASCA realise diversity is essential to the survival of British music. A diverse group of individuals will create more enriching opportunities and experiences within music. I hope this conference is a first step towards facilitating that and making it possible”.

FullSizeRenderPresented by Tom Service and Josie D’Arby, the day consisted of a series of panel discussions and keynote speeches given by a selection of composers including Jeffrey Mumford, Raymond Yui, Daniel Kidane, Eleanor Alberga and Errollyn Wallen along with representatives from organisations, Sound & Music, Arts Council England, Southbank Centre, Chineke Foundation and London Music Masters.
Following the debates raised throughout the day Alan Davey announced that BBC Radio 3 would be:

> Expanding the BBC Radio 3’s classical canon to be more representative and to feature unjustly neglected composers.
> Reappraising the commissioning process based on advice and discussion at the conference
> Commissioning a new work for Chineke! Orchestra to perform
> Committing to reconvening the conference to ensure on-going action

As a starting point for this new focus, composer and BASCA Classical Executive Committee member Dr Shirley J Thompson has already curated a page on the BBC Radio 3 website, highlighting some of the major BAME composing names of the past.

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The conference ended with a live BBC broadcast of In Tune from the RNCM with A celebration of BAME composers featuring the BBC Philharmonic orchestra.
Vick Bain was interviewed by Suzy Klein and highlighted the stark and shocking figure that only 6% of commissioned compositions were from BAME composers last year and that the conference, attended by people of power and influence throughout the classical sector who could now start addressing the problem.

Click here to listen to the broadcast

The 41st BASCA Gold Badge Awards at the Savoy in London on Tuesday, 14 October 2014. Photo by Mark Allan

The 41st BASCA Gold Badge Awards at the Savoy in London on Tuesday, 14 October 2014.
Photo by Mark Allan

John McLeod receives CBE in Queen’s Birthday honours list

BASCA would like to congratulate composer John McLeod, one of our long-standing members, who has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.  McLeod, who studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music, is one of Scotland’s most prolific composers. His music is performed throughout the world and is distinctive for its colourful and challenging arrangements.

In 1979, he won the prestigious Guinness Prize for British composers, which resulted in a major commission from the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1989 and was the recipient of a Gold Badge Award in 2014. He sat on the board of BASCA from 2000-2004 and in 2012 he was re-elected on to the Classical/Jazz Executive Committee of BASCA for another 3 years.

John said: “This award is a wonderful surprise and I’m delighted and deeply honoured. It must, however, be shared with my family, friends, colleagues, performers and all the orchestras who have supported me and believed in my music over many years.”

Singer-songwriter Rod Stewart, who has been a stalwart presence on the British music scene for many decades, was knighted for his services to music and charity.  Dame Vera Lynn has been made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to entertainment and charity. Professor Colin Lawson, who recently celebrated ten years as Director of the Royal College of Music, has been appointed a CBE.

Other musicians and composers who were recognised in the list included trumpeter Alison Balsom pianist Paul Lewis, organist John Kitchen and soul singer Ruby Turner. Balsom who has won three Classic BRIT Awards was awarded an OBE. Lewis, widely recognised for his performances and recordings of all 32 of the Beethoven piano sonatas, was named a CBE.  Kitchen, who was a senior lecturer in music at Edinburgh University (until retiring in 2014), and Turner, whose career spans 30 years, both received MBEs.

UK music industry business leaders were also recognised. Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge was knighted for services to British business and inward investment.  Music business consultant Remileku (Remi) Omolara Harris, formerly of AIM and UK Music, was given an MBE for services to the music industry.

BASCA has opened the call for nominations for the 14th Annual British Composer Awards. The British Composer Awards celebrate the art of contemporary music composition in the UK, honouring composers of classical music, jazz and sonic art.

Nominations are now open across eleven categories for works that received their UK première between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016.

We encourage anyone with a passion for new music to nominate eligible works, and for the first time this year composers may nominate their own pieces.

To make your nominations CLICK HERE.

Nominations close on Tuesday 5 July, and full rules and guidelines can be found HERE.

The 2016 British Composer Awards are the most open ever. This is the year that Leicester won the Premier League, and the year that the widest range of new music will be considered on its own merits. It’s free to enter, and anyone can submit nominations (including the composer). We already have the most diverse and extensive set of panellists for any major music award in the UK. We’re really looking forward to discovering new work that we haven’t heard before, that reflects the excellent work being made by composers across the UK” Artistic Directors Julia Haferkorn and Ed McKeon

The 14th Annual British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3, providing exclusive broadcast coverage of the award ceremony.

For more information about the British Composer Awards please contact Natalie Bleicher or Cindy Truong at BASCA by emailing bca@basca.org.uk or calling 020 7636 2929.

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