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Winners of National Centre for Early Music Composers Award 2012 announced
THE NCEM Composers Award 2012, presented by the National Centre for Early Music in York in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, has been won by Alex Woolf in the under 18 category and by Benjamin Rowarth in the 19 to 25s.
Lux Aeterna by Alex, 16, and Where Is Thy God? by Benjamin, 20, will be premièred by The Tallis Scholars in Durham Cathedral as part of its celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee tomorrow. This concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on July 1.
Alex, from Cambridge, is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra and an Aldeburgh Young Musician. In the past year, his music has been performed at the Southbank Centre and The Sage in Gateshead, as well as in Holland.
This month, his Fanfare will be premiered by Sir Antonio Pappano and the Royal Opera House Orchestra.
His choral work Phoenix was recorded in Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge last year, and his music will feature at this year’s Snape Proms, when the Aldeburgh World Orchestra will premiere a new piece to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics.
Benjamin began his musical life as a chorister at Hexham Abbey. Now a second-year music student at Durham University, he took up the post of interim director of music in University College in 2011 and is assistant director of Durham Polyphony and the director of Renaissance, a small choir he founded in 2011.
As a composer, he specialises in choral music and has premiered many of his works with Renaissance this year.
After winning the prize for the best documentary soundtrack at the Leeds 24-Hour Film Festival last year, he is working on commissions for two short films under the direction of David Anthony-Thomas.
For the award, young composers resident in Britain were invited to write a new piece with The Tallis Scholars in mind, taking as their starting point the In Nomine theme from John Taverner’s Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas.
Seven finalists were selected: Alex Woolf, Samuel Pembury, 16, from the Royal Welsh College of Music, and Aidan Tulloch, 12, from Thirsk School, in the under-18s; Benjamin Rowarth, Mark McCombs, 22, from the University of Sheffield, Samuel Parsons, 21, from Hertford College, Oxford, and Lydia Jane Pugh, 25, a freelance composer, performer and music teacher from Guernsey, in the elder category.
They were all invited to the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) last month, when their entries were workshopped by The Ebor Singers and composer Christopher Fox, professor in music at Brunel University, London.
The Ebor Singers performed each of the pieces at a public concert directed by Paul Gameson, in front of a panel of judges comprising Delma Tomlin, director of the NCEM; Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars; and Chris Wines, senior music producer for BBC Radio 3.
“We’ve been absolutely thrilled, with not only the standard of entries, but also the range and diversity of ideas around the given theme,” says Delma.
“It has been truly inspiring to see our youngest entrant so far, 12-year-old Aidan Tulloch, compete on the same platform as composers twice his age and to witness the enthusiasm among all finalists to work together to learn and enjoy their time at the NCEM.”
Peter is equally enthusiastic.
“With The Tallis Scholars I’ve created an instrument which has a very distinctive sound and I can’t think of anything more useful than to put this highly trained instrument at the disposal of these inspiring composers,” he says.
“I’m hugely appreciative that they’ve written so well for us. I find it thrilling to perform works by a 16 year old and a 20 year old and really hope this award will encourage them to develop their styles and write for many different kinds of ensembles.”
Chris says Radio 3 has been proud to be a partner again.
“The NCEM Composers Award and Radio 3 share the genuine desire to bring together classical music, talent and youth, with the award offering a crucial platform for young composers to create and express themselves through early music,” he adds.
“This year’s entries attracted a fantastically rich and broad range of imaginative entries and two very deserving winners.”
All compositions from the seven finalists were recorded by music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York and will be available to hear on the NCEM website ncem.co.uk/composersaward2012 from this week.
Tickets for tomorrow’s concert in Durham Cathedral are available on 0191 332 4041 or online at galadurham.co.uk