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.
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.