Ryan Collis and Charlotte Robertson win the 2024 NCEM Young Composers Awards

National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award winners Ryan Collis, left, and Charlotte Robertson, seated, at the NCEM

RYAN Collis and Charlotte Robertson are the winners of the 2024 National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Awards.

Ryan won the age 19 to 25 years category with Lux Divinae; Charlotte, the 18 years and under category with A Wonderous Mystery.

Presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3, the final of the 17th NCEM Young Composers Awards took place at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, on May 16.

This year, the NCEM and BBC Radio 3 invited aspiring young composers to create a new work for The Tallis Scholars. Composers were asked to write for unaccompanied voices, setting the 16th century text Mirabile Mysterium (A Wondrous Mystery) either in the original Latin or the English translation.

Composers were encouraged to create music that responds to the imagery of the words and, like the polyphonic vocal music of the European Renaissance, has a sense of melodic direction.

Compositions by the eight young finalists were workshopped during the day by composer Professor Christopher Fox, professional singers from York ensemble Ex Corde and their director Paul Gameson, in the presence of Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars.

In the evening, Ex Corde and Paul Gameson gave a public performance, live streamed to ensure that friends and families from across the United Kingdom were able to join in.

The live streamed performance is available on the NCEM Young Composers Award website at https://www.youngcomposersaward.co.uk/

The shortlisted composers and pieces were:

19 to 25 years

Thomas Shorthouse, Mirabile Mysterium;Tingshuo Yang, Mirabile Mysterium; Ryan Collis, Lux Divinae; Reese Carly Manglicmot, Mirabile Mysterium.

18 and under

Matty Oxtoby, Mirabile Mysterium; Charlotte Robertson,  A Wondrous Mystery; Jamaal Kashim, Mutationem ac Stabilitatem; Selina Cetin, Nativitas Salvatoris Nostri.

“It was wonderful to welcome these talented young people to York for a day sharing music and ideas,” said NCEM director Delma Tomlin

The 2024 panel of judges were BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt, NCEM director Delma Tomlin and Tallis Scholars director Peter Phillips.

Ryan Collis and Charlotte Robertson’s winning works will be premiered by The Tallis Scholars in a public concert at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, on Sunday, October 20, when the performance will be recorded for later broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Delma Tomlin said: “We are delighted to welcome back the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble The Tallis Scholars, directed by our good friend Peter Phillips, as the partners for 2024.

“An annual event on the NCEM’s busy calendar, the Young Composers Award is becoming increasingly popular with aspiring young composers and recognised as an important landmark in their careers.

“It was wonderful to welcome these talented young people to York for a day sharing music and ideas at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church. I’d like to say a special thank-you to Dr Christopher Fox, Peter Phillips, Paul Gameson and Ex Corde, for their inspiration, hard work and invaluable support, and of course to my fellow judges.  

“We’re looking forward to hearing the winning compositions performed by The Tallis Scholars in Saffron Walden in the autumn and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.”

Les Pratt said: “Radio 3 prides itself on being the home of classical music that is known to many, as well as a place where audiences can discover the latest trends and creations.

“Through our support for young composers, thanks to our partnership with NCEM, we are making sure that the art form is kept alive, and always looks to the future. That’s why we can’t wait to share these wonderful new compositions with listeners at home on the Early Music Show and on BBC Sounds.”

The Tallis Scholars said: “Commissioning and performing the works of living composers has been an important part of the long life of The Tallis Scholars, alongside our performances of Renaissance sacred polyphony. To be able to work with young composers is a great privilege and to see how they respond to ancient texts and renaissance settings of those texts is endlessly fascinating.”