Young Composers Award night to be live-streamed from NCEM on November 11

“We’ve been working hard to give our aspiring finalists the best possible experience, even though we won’t be able to welcome them, their friends and family to York,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin

THE winners of the Young Composers Award 2020 will be revealed by the National Centre for Early Music, York, in a live-streamed performance on November 11.

At 7pm, Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, the consort of the Ebor Singers, will perform each of the shortlisted pieces for a panel of judges.

The Coronavirus pandemic enforced the postponement of the 2020 awards, but next month online audience can watch the re-scheduled finals free of charge, tuning in to hear music from the composers of the future performed by artists of the highest calibre.

This national annual award is open to young composers up to the age of 25 and resident in the UK in two age categories: 18 years and under and 19 to 25 .  For the 2020 award, composers were invited 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.

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

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

The live-streamed performance will follow a day-long workshop when the young composers will join composer Christopher Fox, Professor of Music at Brunel University, and Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble.

Judging the finals will be The Tallis Scholars’ director, Peter Phillips; BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt and NCEM director Delma Tomlin. The winners, one from each age category, will be announced after the concert. 

The Young Composers Award is deemed an important landmark in the careers of aspiring composers. Every year, the winning compositions are performed in public and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show. This year’s winning works will be premiered by The Tallis Scholars in a public performance at the Cadogan Hall, London, on March 24 2021.

Delma Tomlin says: “Once again, the NCEM Young Composers Award has attracted attention from all over the UK. This year, we will be live-streaming the excitement and inviting audiences, friends and aspiring young composers and musicians to join us for this highly regarded annual event.

“For everyone working in the arts and entertainment, the last few months have not been easy. We’ve been working hard to give our aspiring finalists the best possible experience, even though we won’t be able to welcome them, their friends and family to York. We hope to be able to celebrate in style next year with the public performance at the Cadogan Hall.”

Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3 and classical music, says: “Nurturing young composers is one of our key missions here at BBC Radio 3: we are keen on discovering new voices and supporting emerging talent.

“In the current circumstances, our commitment is more urgent than ever, as we need to make sure creativity survives and thrives in these unprecedented times. We can’t wait to delight our audiences broadcasting the winning compositions by some of the most promising young composers in the UK.”

The NCEM was among the first arts organisations to live-stream performances and festivals as a response to the lockdown. The first concert, broadcast on March 21, attracted more than 60,000 viewers from all over the world, from as far afield as Australia and Japan.

For full details on how to watch the Young Composers Award 2020 performance, go to