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; 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
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy
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
Forest by Tansy Davies
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard
Two Eardley Pictures by Helen Grime
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
cloud-cuckoo-island by Hanna Tuulikki
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde
Untitled Valley of Fear by Sam Salem
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.