British Composer Awards 2013: Shortlist Announced

 United KingdomUnited Kingdom British Composer Awards 2013: Shortlist Announced

  The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA),the professional association for music writers in the UK, has just announced the 39 works shortlisted for the 2013 British Composer Awards. This is the eleventh year of these prestigious awards and the winners in each of the 13 categories will be unveiled at a ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London on 3rd December.

The shortlist which contains three nominations in each category is as follows:

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
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


The British Composer Awards (BCA) are unique around the world in making contemporary classical and jazz music the focus of their annual celebration. Founded in 2003, the Awards seek to promote theart of composition, to recognise the creative talent of composers who live and work in the UKand to bring contemporary classical and jazz music to a wider audience. Qualifying works musthave been completed within the five years prior to 31 March 2013 and received a public performance – either live or broadcast – in the year leading up to 31 March 2013.


With the exception of the International Award, shortlisted composers must have been born in the UK or have been resident for at least 5 years. Each category is judged by a different jury, with members appointed by BASCA and more than 70 music professionals are involved, the majority of whom are composers working in collaboration with performers, conductors, promoters and festival directors.


Over 300 works were submitted by over 200 composers and, no doubt reflecting the diversity of modern British composition, the shortlist of 39 features 38 different composers, with only Gabriel Jackson shortlisted in more than one category


Gabriel Jackson won the Choral category in 2009 (for TheSpacious Firmament) and 2012 (for Airplane Cantata). His Choral Symphony (Choral) is acelebration of London and explores all sides of this city.


Three works in the shortlist were written for the Cultural Olympiad: Stephen McNeff‘sThe Chalk Legend (Making Music); James Redwood‘s Pass The Torch, An Olympic Symphony

(Community or Educational Project);and Oliver Searle‘sTechnophonia(Community or Educational Project).


Sadly, works bytwo composers were nominated posthumously: Jonathan Harvey and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Jonathan Harvey’s Cirrus Light (Instrumental Solo or Duo) was one of his last compositions. He wrote the work from a wheelchair while suffering from Motor Neurone disease, inspired by the changing colours of cirrus clouds in a summer sky. Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first time Sir Richard Rodney Bennett has been nominated. Colloquy with God (Choral) is the last work he composed. It is a poignant setting of a very moving poem by Sir ThomasBrowne for four male voices and was dedicated to the vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony, which has recently recorded the work.


The categories that have the greatest number of new nominees are Contemporary Jazz,

Wind/Brass Band and Sonic Art. In Sonic Art, all three shortlisted works are from first-time nominees, including Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver with No Such Object (Speed of Light).. Newnominees in Contemporary Jazz are Trish Clowes, Radio 3’s New Generation Jazz Artist2012-14, and the first woman to be given the role, and Tim Garland with his Songs to the North Sky.


Some of the composers share the shortlist with their own teachers this year: Edward Nesbit, one of the youngest composers on the list, is nominated for A Pretence of Wit (Vocal), while his teacher George Benjamin’s Written on Skin is on the list in the Stage Works category (CD review). Richard Bullen and his teacher David Sawer are nominated in the Community or EducationalProject and Vocal categories respectively.


The 11th British Composer Awards will take place on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at

Goldsmiths’ Hall, London. The event will include a performance of the winning work in the 2013 Student Competition. The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA, sponsored by PRS for Music and in association with BBC Radio 3 which will provide exclusive broadcast coverage of the Awards on Saturday 7th December.



John Quinn