Delyth Field and Jacob Fitzgerald win NCEM Young Composers Awards prizes in York

Young Composers Award winner Delyth Field with Palisander at the National Centre for Early Music, York

DELYTH Field and Jacob Fitzgerald have won the 14th National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award prizes.

Presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3, the finals were streamed last night (13/5/2021) from the NCEM in York. 

Delyth Field won the age 19 to 25 category with “Kagura Suite for Recorders”, inspired by Kagura, the oldest form of dance in Japan.

Jacob Fitzgerald won the age 18 and under category with “murmuration”, composed in response to the natural dance performed by starlings across the skyscape.

Young composers living in the United Kingdom were invited to create a new work for recorder quartet based on dance-forms from across all eras and cultures. Although they were writing for instruments from the Baroque era, they were not limited to dance forms of that period. 

The eight finalists’ compositions were performed by recorder quartet Palisander after a day-long workshop at the NCEM led by composer Christopher Fox, professor of music at Brunel University, working alongside Palisander and the shortlisted composers.

Mollie Carlyle, Delyth Field and Lux Knightley took part in the 19 to 25 category; Jacob Fitzgerald,  Matty Oxtoby, Adam Spry, Shuchen Xie and Shoshana Yugin-Power in the younger final. 

The 2021 panel of judges were BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt, NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin and Palisander.

Young Composers Award winner Jacob Fitzgerald with recorder quartet Palisander after last night’s final

“Kagura Suite for Recorders” and “murmuration” will be premiered by Palisander at St John’s Smith Square, London, as part of the London Festival of Baroque Music, where the September 20 performance will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Delma said: “The NCEM Young Composers Award continues to attract composers of the highest calibre from all over the UK and the standard of compositions this year was extremely high.  I’d like to congratulate all our composers for their impressive work, and we hope that they enjoyed this unique and rewarding experience. 

“Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we had to stage last year’s awards online, so we were especially thrilled to be able to welcome young composers to our home of St Margaret’s Church in Walmgate. As always, I would like to say a massive thank-you to my fellow judges and the fabulous Palisander, who will perform the pieces at St John’s Smith Square on September 20.

“Last but not least, I would like thank our partners, BBC Radio 3, for their continued and invaluable support, which enables us to continue presenting these important awards.”

Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3 and classical music, said: “We are proud to support the NCEM’s Young Composers Awards once again as part of Radio 3’s mission to find and support young talent and to promote new music, in this case work inspired by early music.

“The project reflects the excellence of young talent and the quality of work that young composers are producing. We warmly congratulate the winners and look forward to sharing performances of their works later this year on the Early Music Show.”

The streamed performance is available to watch at youngcomposersaward.co.uk/2021 and the Facebook page, @yorkearlymusic.

NCEM receives £28,000 Kickstart grant to boost ambitious digital outreach plans

“Over the past year, our digital outreach has become increasingly significant as part of our offer and we’re thrilled to be able to continue to expand it,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

THE National Centre for Early Music, in York, has been awarded a £28,000 Capital Kickstart grant from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

This will enable the NCEM, in St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, to push forward with its ambitious digital plans, despite the financial challenge caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin said:“We would like to thank the Culture Recovery Fund for their continued support and for this extremely generous grant in recognition of our vital and important work. Over the past year, our digital outreach has become increasingly significant as part of our offer and we’re thrilled to be able to continue to expand it.”

The NCEM is one of 74 organisations receiving grants totalling £58.9 million today. The Capital Kickstart grants programme helps organisations cover costs added to capital projects such as building works, refurbishments, and large-scale equipment purchases by pandemic-related delays or fundraising shortfalls. 

To continue the “outstanding success of its significantly increased digital output”, the NCEM needed additional funds for livestream cameras and filming equipment, plus in the new website in order to reach wider audiences and support the Early Music sector. 

Steven Devine performing the first live-streamed concert at the NCEM on March 21

The first live-streamed concert on Early Music Day on March 21 by harpsichordist Steven Devine attracted a worldwide audience of more than 70,000 and this summer’s online York Early Music Festival continued to engage new audiences from as far afield as the USA and Australia. 

This month, the NCEM is staging the York Early Music Christmas Festival, a festive programme of live concerts running until this weekend. Newly added for 2020 is York Christmas At Home, a digital festival of nine concerts to be streamed from today until Sunday that will then be available on demand.

In November, the NCEM’s Young Composers Award 2020, presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, took place digitally; again, the behind-closed-doors concert was live-streamed to a wide audience. Plans for next year’s award with BBC Radio 3 and 2021 partners, recorder quartet Palisander, are in progress already.

The NCEM continues to play an important part in the promotion and support of the professional development of Early Music ensembles worldwide with residencies and workshops in the planning stage. As a bonus, the NCEM’s new spring music festival will coincide with celebrations for 2021 Early Music Day on the anniversary of JS Bach’s birthday on March 21.

Alongside a varied programme of music, in 2021 the NCEM will be staging the Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival and the York Early Music Festival.

Ben Pugh, seated, leading the tech team for the online 2020 York Early Music Festival in July

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the NCEM has continued to keep music alive and was one of the first UK arts organisations to broadcast online concerts worldwide.

Education and engagement with communities has continued too, drawing in socially isolated individuals to a weekly Cuppa And A Chorus, as well as sharing music-making through a series of teaching videos aimed at deaf youngsters, I Can Play. 

Today, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport also announced that £165 million from the Culture Recovery Fund has been offered in repayable loans to help 11 major cultural organisations survive the loss of income caused by the crisis.

This follows previous rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund, including the grants programme that distributed £428 million to more than 2,000 cultural organisations across the country and the £3.36 million Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This Government promised it would be here for culture and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word. 

Matthew Wadsworth and Kate Bennett Wadsworth captured on camera in their live-streamed concert at the NCEM. The concert can be enjoyed again as part of York Christmas At Home on Sunday at 10.30am via ncem.co.uk

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.

“Today, we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture, so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.” 

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said: “Today’s announcement is another vital step in securing the future of England’s cultural sector. Supporting capital projects will help to ensure that we maintain an innovative, sustainable cultural infrastructure that supports world-class creative work, while the loans announced today will enable some of our largest and most prestigious cultural organisations to weather the effects of Covid-19 and reopen when it is safe to do so.

“The Arts Council is grateful to the Government for their support through the Culture Recovery Fund and we are proud to support all the organisations receiving funding today.”

For more details on the 2020 York Early Music Christmas Festival and York Christmas At Home festival, go to: ncem.co.uk.

Let’s dance! 2021 Young Composers Award at NCEM to take leap into new direction

Palisander: Dynamic young recorder quartet will be performing the competing composers’ works on award day at the 2021 NCEM Young Composers Award in York

THE call-out for entries for the 2021 NCEM Young Composers Award in York is under way.

Launched on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show today, the annual competition invites composers aged 25 and under to write a new work for recorder quartet.

Each year, the award is presented by the National Centre for Early Music, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, in association with BBC Radio 3, joined for the 2021 award by the vibrant young recorder quartet Palisander.

This major national award is open to young composers resident in the UK and is divided into two categories: 18 years and under and 19 to 25 years.

Composers are asked to create a new work for recorder quartet based on any dance form from across all eras and cultures, from the bransle and the galliard to the Charleston and the tango.

The work may be a single movement rooted in a single dance form, a continuous movement that combines different dance forms, or a suite made up of two, three or four short movements. The entire piece should last between three to four minutes.  

Shortlisted composers will be invited to the award day at the NCEM on Thursday, May 13 2021 when the shortlisted compositions will be presented by Palisander in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox.  In the evening, Palisander’s Lydia Gosnell, Teresa Wrann, Miriam Monaghan and Caoimhe de Paor will perform each of the pieces for a panel of judges.

The two winning pieces, one from each age category, will be premiered by Palisander in a public performance at St John’s Smith Square, London, on May 20 2021 as part of the London Festival of Baroque Music and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

“We can’t wait to hear what people come up with,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We are delighted to introduce an exciting new element of dance into this year’s awards. This really helps us to open up the award, giving us the opportunity to work with an ever-broader community. 

“Palisander are well versed in supporting school groups and emerging musicians and we are thrilled to work with such a dynamic young ensemble.  We can’t wait to hear what people come up with!

“Shortlisted candidates will be able to enjoy an action-packed day of workshops in York with Palisander plus composer Christopher Fox. The winning compositions will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show, a feather in the cap of any young composer.”

Alan Davey, the Beeb’s controller of BBC Radio 3 and classical music, says: “Supporting young talent and promoting new music are both central to BBC Radio 3 and we are proud to continue our commitment to supporting the next generation of composers inspired by early music.”

Palisander, all alumni from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, are “very proud” to be partnering with the NCEM and Radio 3 for next year’s award. “Our programmes, though rooted in history, are not bound by it. Contemporary compositions, arrangements and performance presentation play a central role in our concerts, so we’re eager to hear the next generation’s take on one of our favoured genres:  music to dance to!” say the London quartet.

“We look forward to introducing the young composers to our plethora of recorders of varying shapes and sizes, as well as the different timbres and extended techniques at their disposal. As passionate ambassadors of our instrument, we hope that the young composers will be as inspired as we are by the plentiful possibilities of the recorder family.” 

The closing date for registration is Friday, February 19, 5pm; the deadline for submission of scores is Friday, March 19, 12 noon. Shortlisted candidates will be informed on Friday, April 9 and will be invited to attend the award day and workshops in York on May 13. 

Terms and conditions and details of how to take part, including Palisander’s advice on composing for recorder quartet, can be found at: www.youngcomposersaward.co.uk/2021. Alternatively, email: info.composers@ncem.co.uk.

Christmas At Home with Palisander : York Early Music Christmas Festival launches an online weekend to complement the socially distanced concert programme at the NCEM. Palisander will play their part in both

PALISANDER will present Mischief & Merriment at the York Early Music Christmas Festival at the NCEM, Walmgate, York, on December 4 at 4.30pm and 7pm.

The recorder quartet of Lydia Gosnell, Miriam Monaghan, Caoimhe de Paor and Teresa Wrann will recall how Christmas was the highlight of the Tudor calendar when strict Advent fasting would be followed by 12 indulgent days of mischief and merriment.

These elaborate celebrations were presided over by the Lord of Misrule, who co-ordinated the Christmastide entertainments for the court. For their December 4 programme, Palisander will return to the NCEM to take on the role of Lords of Misrule, presenting festive songs and dances to keep toes tapping throughout December.

Traditional Renaissance settings of familiar carols will be paired with music to accompany the whopping 20-plus course Tudor Christmas dinner, complemented by Yuletide courtly dances and playful contemporary takes on the Lord of Misrule’s spectacles.

Palisander will showcase their full recorder family, from the six-inch garklein to the six-foot contrabass, plus everything in between, and among the featured composers will be Antony Holborne, John Dowland, Thoinot Arbeau and Michael Praetorius.

York Christmas At Home will present nine online concerts in three days from December 11 to 13. Palisander’s Mischief & Merriment will be streamed at 1pm on December 12 and will be available to view on demand until January 6 2021. Tickets are on sale at: https://tickets.ncem.co.uk/en-GB/shows/palisander%20online/events.

Tickets for the York Early Music Christmas Festival can be booked at ncem.co.uk. Hurry, hurry, is the advice

Who won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award last night?

On screen: National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award winners Eilidh Owen and Finton O’Hare, with their fellow competitors on Zoom , at last night’s live-streamed final

FINTON O’Hare and Eilidh Owen have won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award prizes in York.

O’Hare emerged as the victor in the 19 to 25 age group, Owen likewise in the 18 and under category, at last night’s final live-streamed from the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate.

Presented in association with BBC Radio 3, the 13th iteration of the NCEM award invited young composers living in the UK to create a new polyphonic work for unaccompanied choir, setting either the Our Father (Pater Noster) prayer from St Matthew’s Gospel or the first and last verses of George Herbert’s poem The Flower.  

The eight finalists’ compositions were performed by York musicians Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, the consort of the Ebor Singers.

Seeking the prize in the 18 to 25 final were Fintan O’Hare’s composition Come Passing Rain, Noah Bray’s Our Father, Sam Gooderham’s Late-Past, Caitlin Harrison’s The Flower and James Mitchell’s The Lord’s Prayer.

Competing for the 18 years and under award were Eilidh Owen’s As If There Were No Such Cold Thing, Ethan Lieber’s The Flower and Emily Pedersen’s Pater Noster.

The evening also featured performances of works by Owain Park and Alexander Campkin, winners in 2010 when Owain took home the 18 and under prize. Both have  become well established composers, providing good examples and inspiration for the 2020 entrants. Music by Alec Roth and Ben Parry was performed too.

“This year has been very different, moving the final and the workshop online, but we’re sure that the composers enjoyed this exciting experience,” said NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin

Last night’s final followed a day-long online workshop from the NCEM, where composer Christopher Fox, professor of music at Brunel University, and Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble were joined virtually by the young composers. 

The 2020 panel of judges were BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt, The Tallis Scholars’ director, Peter Phillips, and NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin.

Reflecting on the 2020 competition, played out against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, Delma said: “The NCEM Young Composers Award continues to attract composers of the highest calibre from all over the UK.

“This year has been very different, moving the final and the workshop online, but we’re sure that the composers enjoyed this exciting experience. We’re looking forward to the concert at the Cadogan Hall next year with the wonderful Tallis Scholars performing the winning pieces.”

Next March’s London premiere of O’Hare and Owen’s compositions will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Delma concluded: “Congratulations to our talented young composers and a special thank-you to the Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, who helped make the award possible. I’d also like to say a big thank-you to my fellow judges and, last but not least, BBC Radio 3 for their invaluable support

“We look forward to meeting in person for the 2021 award. Details will be announced on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on November 29.”

Last night’s live-streamed performance can be viewed at ncem.co.uk/composersaward.