On Wednesday 9th December 2015, the British Composer Awards 2015 took place at the BFI Southbank, in a ceremony celebrating the art of contemporary music composition. Here at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, we were delighted to see some familiar faces on the shortlist.
Our warmest congratulations go to former music student Kate Whitley, who was this year’s winner of the Category: Amateur or Young Performer, with her composition Alive. At just 27 years old, Kate was the youngest winner at this year’s awards.
Alive is a setting of a poem by Holly McNish about the joy of experiencing the world. Kate’s composition is for children’s choir and orchestra and was commissioned by Multi-story. It was premiered on 20th June 2014 at Peckham Car Park by the Multi-Story Orchestra, Southwark Youth Orchestra, Lewisham Schools Sinfonia and Peckham Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Stark.
Kate is no stranger to having her works performed in unusual places – in 2010 she premiered her opera Bonesong as part of the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas in the Zoology Museum, amongst a variety of skeleton exhibits. Bonesong went on to perform at the Edinburgh fringe to critical acclaim. Kate speaks in an interview on The F word blog about the storyline and what it was like to stage the opera in such a setting. Her creative flair was much in evidence when she was at Cambridge, and she was a great user of the Faculty library too, never letting the matter of the odd library fine deter her!
Faculty of Music lecturer in composition, Richard Causton, was also short-listed in the category: Small Chamber Work, for Piano Quintet. The Pendlebury Library holds copies of some of Richard’s compositions as seen here…
Another former lecturer, Ryan Wigglesworth, also made the shortlist for the Orchestral Category for his composition Etudes Tableaux.
Finally, a bit about the awards themselves. The British Composer Awards are unique in focusing on outstanding contributions to contemporary music, jazz and sonic art.
Created by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 2003, the Awards promote the art of composition, recognise the creative talent of composers and sound artists, and bring their music to a wider audience. To qualify works must have been completed within five years of the award period and have recieved a UK premiere performance – either live or broadcast – in the year leading up to 31 March and composers must have been born in the UK or resident for at least 5 years. The awards seek to recognise and encourage the commissioning of new music and to include commissions as prizes in certain categories as a way of further supporting contemporary composers.
So many congratulations to the winners, all those who made the shortlist and of course to a few of them for giving Cambridge a little bit of reflected glory!