Judging now in progress in all other categories of the British Composer Awards

With a record crop of more than 300 submissions to consider, judging for the 2007 British Composer Awards is well underway, and today voting begins for the BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award. Now in their fifth year, the Awards reach their climax on December 5th with the prize ceremony at the Thameside Glaziers Hall.

“The simple fact that these 300 works have been newly created and publicly performed – and the thought of the numbers of audiences and artists involved in the process – is an immensely encouraging indicator of the strength and value of creative activity in the UK today,” says Sarah Rodgers, Concert Chair of the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, which hosts the Awards.

The judging for ten of the thirteen categories is now complete, and the shortlists in the three remaining categories will be decided by the end of month. One of these is the new International Award, while the others are the Making Music Award (for works composed for amateur groups) and the BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award, voting for which begins today and lasts throughout October.

Among the twelve nominated composers for this year’s BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award are familiar names such as Julian Anderson, Jonathan Harvey and last year’s Choral Award winner Judith Bingham. Also a winner in last year’s Awards was the Irish composer Brian Irvine, who appears alongside new names to the Listeners’ Award list, Django Bates, Param Vir and Guto Puw.

The shortlists in each category will be announced on 26th October at the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s 60th birthday concert for American composer John Adams. The Academy has a worldwide reach and Adams is one of its Fellows, so this occasion is especially apt for naming the contenders for the new International award; it attracted nominations for works by composers from nine countries, all premiered in the UK between April 2006 and March 2007.

The judging panels comprise more than sixty music professionals – composers, performers and other practitioners. Among the submissions this year are works by past winners such as Harrison Birtwistle, Simon Holt and Lynne Plowman, while other major names joining them on the longlist include Thomas Adès, Sally Beamish, Brian Ferneyhough, Deirdre Gribbin, Oliver Knussen, Colin and David Matthews and John Woolrich. “As ever, though, the award will be determined by the quality of the work rather than the composer’s reputation,” Rodgers affirms. As for the works themselves, she adds intriguingly that “the harp, harpsichord and accordion seem to have caught the imagination of composers this year.”

BBC Radio 3’s 2006 Choir of the Year, Chantage, will perform at the Awards ceremony on December 5th, as will the BBC Singers. This is part of this year’s special emphasis on choral singing. The PRS Foundation for New Music is making a £5000 award to the winner of the choral category, while the liturgical category is the subject of a £1000 prize from the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award
For BBC commissions premiered between 1st April 2006 and 31st March 2007

Voting for the BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award is now open. Listeners can vote online until 2nd November or by telephone, via the BBC Audience line on 08700 100 300 (calls cost between 2-8p per minute from a BT line, calls from mobiles and other networks may vary).

Each work will be broadcast on Radio 3 between 8th and 18th October


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