British Composer Awards announced

- 4 December 2013

A ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London last night saw the announcement of the British Composer Awards presented by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (Basca) in 13 categories.

Among the 13 winners, four were previous recipients of a BCA: Sir Harrison Birtwistle, picking up his fifth award with his piano work Gigue Machine in the instrumental solo or duo category; Colin Matthews, winning the chamber award for his fourth string quartet; James MacMillan taking the choral category with Since it was the day of Preparation…, for bass, chorus and ensemble; and Brian Elias receiving the vocal award for Electra Mourns, which was premiered in the 2012 Proms.

Fifth award: Harrison Birtwistle Photo: Mark Allan

Fifth award: Harrison Birtwistle
Photo: Mark Allan

A total of five awards went to first-time nominees: Nigel Clarke (wind band or brass band, for his cornet concerto Mysteries of the Horizon); Matthew Martin (liturgical, for I Saw the Lord, written for St Davids Cathedral Choir); Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver (sonic art, for No Such Object, unveiled at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival); Peter McGarr (Making Music award, for Dry Stone Walls of Yorkshire, written for CoMA London); and Toshio Hosokawa (international award for Woven Dreams, premiered at the Lucerne Festival in 2010, and given its UK premiere by the BBCSO at the Southbank Centre’s ‘Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan’ in 2012.

Joseph Phibbs, George Benjamin, John Surman and James Redwood are all first-time winners although each has received previous nominations. Phibbs’ Rivers to the Sea, commissioned for the 18th birthday celebrations of The Anvil, Basingstoke, won the orchestral category; George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, which has already won awards elsewhere, won the stage works category; John Surman with Lifelines (in the contemporary jazz category); and James Redwood’s Pass the Torch, An Olympic Symphony, received the award for community or educational project.

British Composer Awards chairman Sarah Rodgers said: ‘One of the achievements BASCA is particularly proud of is that the British Composers Awards, year on year, brings to light rising composers and supports them in taking the next step in their careers.  The broadcast and other media exposure we are able to offer, together with commissions and collaborations, all contribute to helping a composer and their work become more widely recognised.’

Classical music blogger Jessica Duchen, however, lamented the fact that there were no women among the winners, writing: ‘This proves more than ever that it is time for an all-women prize for classical music. Women are achieving great things in this field &#8210 but they are not being adequately recognised for it.’

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on Radio 3 on 7 December.


2013 British Composer Awards – Winners List

  • Instrumental Solo or Duo – Gigue Machine by Harrison Birtwistle
  • Chamber – String Quartet No 4 by Colin Matthews
  • Vocal – Electra Mourns by Brian Elias
  • Choral – Since it was the day of Preparation… by James MacMillan
  • Wind Band or Brass Band – Mysteries of the Horizon by Nigel Clarke
  • Orchestral – Rivers to the Sea by Joseph Phibbs
  • Stage Works – Written on Skin by George Benjamin
  • Liturgical – I Saw the Lord by Matthew Martin
  • Sonic Art – No Such Object (Speed of Light) by Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver
  • Contemporary Jazz Composition – Lifelines by John Surman
  • Community or Educational Project – Pass the Torch, An Olympic Symphony by James Redwood
  • Making Music Award – Dry Stone Walls of Yorkshire by Peter McGarr
  • International Award – Woven Dreams by Toshio Hosokawa


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