Friday, November 28, 2008: The winners of the 2008 British Composer Awards were today announced in a ceremony hosted by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters at the Law Society. Now in its sixth year, the Awards are sponsored annually by the Performing Right Society (PRS), and are run in association with BBC Radio 3. This year the key-note comments at the Awards were given by well-known composer/producer Nitin Sawhney who also presented the winners with their awards.
An impressive 268 submissions were received for works premiered between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2008. The winners list features some of the UK's most established and recognised contemporary composers alongside emerging new talent. New Yorker Elliott Carter sees in his 100th year with an award in the International category for 'Three Illusions for Orchestra'.
Scotsman, James MacMillan, nominated in three categories saw off stiff competition from Judith Bingham and Howard Skempton in the Liturgical category for his 4 Motets from "The Strathclyde Motets". Despite this Judith Bingham went on to receive what will be her 4th British Composer Award for Fantasia (from The Lost Works of Paganini) in the Instrumental Solo or Duo category, and is the only female to be honoured this year. Howard Skempton picked up the Vocal Award for 'The Moon is Flashing'. Younger composers Luke Bedford and Joe Cutler were honoured with an award in the Orchestral and Chamber categories respectively.
Sarah Rodgers, Concert Chair of the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, comments: "Once again, the British Composer Awards have reviewed a great swathe of new contemporary music and highlighted what the judges have identified as the most exciting and ear-catching work on offer. It is a dynamic time for British composition and we are immensely proud to be supporting composers in this way."
One of the Awards' objectives is to encourage the commissioning and performance of contemporary music in the amateur sector, and each year it receives nominations from members of Making Music, or any other amateur group, for the Making Music Award. The award in this category went to John Holland for Green Sky.
Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of the BBC Proms, says:
"We are delighted to be associated with the British Composer Awards for the sixth year running. The Academy has made real strides in highlighting the richness and diversity of composition in this country, a scene which BBC Radio 3 uniquely supports with broadcasts and performances, and as the world's most significant commissioner of new music. It is exciting to see the range and quality of the work of British composers celebrated by these Awards. In particular the work of young composers gives real hope for the continuing strength of the classical new music scene in the UK."
Ellis Rich, Chairman of PRS (Performing Right Society), sponsor of the Awards, comments: 'PRS would like to congratulate our members who have won a British Composer Award. We have proudly sponsored this event for six years, from its inception, and every year we have watched it grow in stature and in importance. There is no better way of celebrating the richness of contemporary classical music and of rewarding our members who write it.'
The awards ceremony featured two Sonic Art installations; the artists, Eugene Perera and Mick Grierson presented their interactive work as part of a collaboration for the awards between the Academy and Sonic Arts Network. The actual Award for Sonic Art went to Janek Schaefer for his interactive creation, 'Extended Play.'
The winners of the 2008 British Composer Awards were announced at the Law Society, London on Tuesday 2 December, and a special programme devoted to the Awards is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 In Tune on Wednesday 3 December at 7.00pm.
WINNER: Joe Cutler - Folk Music
Jonathan Harvey - Sprechgesang
Dave Price - Lee's Game
James MacMillan - Tenebrae Responsories
Colin Matthews - Alphabicycle Order
WINNER: Michael Zev Gordon - This Night
Community or Educational Project
Instrumental Solo or Duo *
WINNER: Judith Bingham - Fantasia (from The Lost Works of Paganini)
Patrick Nunn - Transilient Fragments
Jonathan Pitkin - Con Spirito
WINNER: Elliott Carter - Three Illusions for Orchestra
Hans Werner Henze - Sebastian im Traum
Kaija Saariaho - Mirage
Judith Bingham - Missa Brevis "Awake My Soul" with accompanying anthem "The Shepherd"
WINNER: James MacMillan - 4 Motets from "The Strathclyde Motets"
Howard Skempton - Three Motets
Making Music Award
Alexander Campkin - Counting My Numberless Fingers
WINNER: John Holland - Green Sky
Cecilia McDowall - A Canterbury Mass
WINNER: Luke Bedford - Wreathe
Rolf Hind - Maya-Sesha
Mark-Anthony Turnage - Ceres
Sonic Art **
Ed Hughes - Auditorium
Terry Mann - The Bells of Paradise
WINNER: Janek Schaefer - Extended Play
WINNER: Jonathan Dove - The Adventures of Pinocchio
James MacMillan - The Sacrifice
Edward Rushton - The Shops
Joe Cutler - Akhmatova Fragments
Simon Holt - Sueños
WINNER: Howard Skempton - The Moon is Flashing
Wind Band or Brass Band
WINNER: Adam Gorb - Adrenaline City
Gavin Higgins - A Forest Symphony
Joseph Phibbs - The Spiralling Night
*The winner of the Award for Instrumental Solo or Duo will receive £1,000 from the Worshipful Company of Musicians towards a new commission
**The winner of the Award for Sonic Art will receive £5,000 from the PRS Foundation towards a new commission or towards a project which contributes to the furtherance of the composer's career.