Ivors Composer Awards 2021 nominees announced

The Ivors Academy have revealed the nominees for classical, jazz and sound art for The Ivors Composer Awards 2021. The winners will be revealed in a live ceremony on 8 December at the British Museum.

In a change with previous years and to reflect the impact the pandemic has had on the music world, The Ivors Academy has included new works on a commercial recording – as long as the recording was the first time the work had been heard by the public – in addition to concerts that were live-streamed anywhere in the world, as long as the concert could be viewed by the UK public.

This year’s nominations include composers such as Tansy Davies, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Howard Goodall and James MacMillan. 40% of the composers in the running for an Ivor Novello Award this year are first-time nominees, including Nwando Ebizie, Nikki Iles, Dave Manington, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Alex Paxton, who has three works nominated.

The Ivors Composer Awards are supported by PRS for Music.

JAZZ COMPOSITION


BYE by ALEX PAXTON
for small jazz ensemble and improviser

CORNCRACK DREAMS
by ALEX PAXTON
for trombone, keyboard and drums

DREAMS by BRIGITTE BERAHA and DAVE MANINGTON
for jazz sextet

THE CAGED BIRD by NIKKI ILES
for jazz band

THE RISE OF THE LIZARD PEOPLE by IVO NEAME
for jazz orchestra

LARGE SCALE COMPOSITION


CATAMORPHOSIS by ANNA THORVALDSDOTTIR
for orchestra

DEMOCRACY DANCES by CONOR MITCHELL
for symphony orchestra

KAAMOS by LARA POE
for orchestra

PHARMAKEIA by JAMES DILLON
for 16 players

THIS DEPARTING LANDSCAPE by MARTIN SUCKLING
for orchestra



SMALL CHAMBER COMPOSITION


A FIELD GUIDE TO PEBBLES by LYNNE PLOWMAN
for percussion duo

NIGHTINGALES: ULTRA-DEEP FIELD by TANSY DAVIES
for string quartet

SOMETIMES VOICES by ALEX PAXTON
for keyboard and drums

STILL LIFE by STEPHEN GOSS
for cello and guitar

WICKED PROBLEMS by LAURA BOWLER
for voice, bass flute and fixed tape part

SOLO COMPOSITION
‘ECHO THE ANGELUS’ by JAMES DILLON
for piano

FADING SPELLSPHERE by BEN GAUNT
for piano

LAMPADES by MARTIN IDDON
for tuba and fixed media

LINEAR CONSTRUCTION (NO. 5) by ALEX GROVES
for cello

NO ONE by ROBIN HAIGH
for harp



SOUND ART


FIRE PREVENTION OR HOW TO SING A LABYRINTH OR THE REBEING AND THE BURNING OF THE LABYRINTH by NWANDO EBIZIE
for piano, voice and electronics with field recordings

LONDON 26 AND 28 MARCH 2020: IMITATION: INVERSION by CAROLINE KRAABEL
for baritone, alto and sopranino saxophones and double bass

NOCTURNAL INSIGHTS by NIKKI SHETH
for field recordings of crepuscular and nocturnal wildlife in the UK

THE CUCKMERE SOUNDWALK by ED HUGHES
for chamber orchestra

WAVES OF RESISTANCE (RADIO ART WITHOUT BORDERS) TONNTA FRIOTAÍOCHTA (EALAÍNE RAIDIÓ GAN TEORAINNEACHA) by MAGZ HALL
radiophonic poem, WASP synth and location recordings from the Irish Sea and Canterbury Garden



VOCAL OR CHORAL COMPOSITION


BARUCH – TEN PROPOSITIONS OF BARUCH SPINOZA FOR TENOR AND PIANO by MICHAEL ZEV GORDON
for tenor and piano

GYÖKÉR (ROOT) by THOMAS ADÈS
for mezzo-soprano and four percussionists

NEVER TO FORGET by HOWARDGOODALL
for SATB choir and small orchestra

THINKING I HEAR THEE CALL by CHERYL FRANCES-HOAD
for soprano, speaker and electronics

VIDI AQUAM by JAMESMACMILLAN
for 40 a cappella voices, split into 8 SSATB choirs

London’s newest museum to open to public at Royal College of Music

The Royal College of Music’s new museum in its refurbished Prince Consort Road building houses 60 of the institutions 1500-strong collection of instruments plus a myriad of tantalising musical artefacts from past students too. A treasure trove for those of us who love to peer at detail and let our imagination take flight.

The museum is open to the public for free – part of the Royal College of Music’s aim to make itself more open beyond its students.

The extent to which the museum itself will prove a draw for UK (or international when the rules allow) cultural tourists was difficult to grasp when I visited the museum in a press preview last week. In fairness I was, true to form, running low on energy the day I visited. This may well account for my initial perspective on the space.

That said, I found the exhibition thought-provoking.

On display are moments from history, potent examples of instruments denoting status. A bygone age when music and the technology required to create it were celebrated. When did we lose sight of that? When did music start being taken for granted? When did it assume the same status as the likes of gas, electricity or running water?

The exhibition will support RCM students in their own studies. And for those visitors to London who are up for venturing north of the Victoria and Albert or Science museums (or who in the summer might have tickets for the Proms) the Royal College will come with a valuable offer over and above learning: another public-access cafe with toilet facilities.

This observation isn’t a back-handed compliment. If memory serves me correctly, one of Harry Selfridge’s priorities when establishing his epic department store was laying on the facilities he knew his core audience needed back when the store that takes his name to this day was set up in 1908. Make yourself useful in the first instance and tempt them with the treats once they’re inside.

In that way, the Royal College has stolen a march on its nearby rivals the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. I like the approach.

Many a time I’ve sauntered past Trinity Laban in Greenwich listening to multiple musicians practising orchestral excerpts wanting to be ‘closer to the action’.

If the Royal College succeed in scheduling daytime and museum-bound performances then they’ll create a daytime destination for the likes of me. Free access to their considerable collection of musical instruments and artefacts plus a cracking a cafe will do just fine.

Access is free but visitors need to book a ticket to guarantee access. More information on the Royal College of Music Museum website.

New record label October House Records to pay 85% of subscriptions to its artists launches October 1

A new subscription based record label launches on October 1, promising its artists 85% of the monies raised. October House Records begins its commercial life as an online streaming platform and publishing house spotlighting new music from some of this country’s leading artists. 

One of the albums which features as part of the launch package is a live recording of a concert in this year’s Spitalfields Festival featuring RPS nominated artist Heloise Werner. Also included in the roster of artists is Kit Downes & Shiva Feshareki. 

I also spy Zoe Martlew making an appearance with her piece Salamander which I believe I’m right in saying formed part of a PRS for Music online composition project produced by the brilliant Harriet Wybor back in the early days of lockdown 2020. 

October House Records launches with 9 new albums and projects and is run as both a record label and a paid-for subscription streaming/download platform for the material they release (audio, audio-visual and sheet music/scores). New releases will be issued in batches of around 10 albums or projects every 3 months.

Sign-up for UK Conservatoire 16 December conference ‘Strengthening Music in Society’

‘Strengthening Music in Society’ is a conference taking place on 16 December 2021, hosted and convened by the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in association with Conservatoires UK (CUK), the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) and SEMPRE.

This will be the first opportunity for people working in higher education to respond to a major AEC report focussing on “Strengthening Music in Society” (2017-21).

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama who will give a keynote presentation highlighting key issues and questions that are raised in the AEC report.
  • Ankna Arockiam, PhD candidate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and founder of Shared Narratives – the student perspective
  • Diana Salazar, Director of Programmes at the Royal College of Music – the pedagogic perspective
  • Professor Graham Welch, UCL Institute of Education Established Chair of Music Education – the research perspective
  • Linda Begbie (Development Director) Manchester Collective – the employer perspective
  • Gillian Moore, CBE, Director of Music, Southbank Centre, London – the Industry perspective
  • James Njoku-Goodwin, CEO, UK Music – the Government & Policy perspective

Read Musicians as “Makers in Society”: A Conceptual Foundation for Contemporary Professional Higher Music Education

Sign-up for live-stream access here.

Accordion player Ryan Corbett wins Royal Overseas League Keyboard Final 2021

A cracking evening at Royal Overseas League where a quartet of ridiculously young talented keyboard players brought us Lizst, Debussy, Ravel, Angeles, and Semyonov.

Alexander Lau had the toughest job opening with Debussy and Lizst, struggling to contain his nerves, manifest in sometimes over generous pedal work. The storytelling undoubtedly came together towards the conclusion of Lizst’s second Ballade, though against was the considerable competition which followed.

British pianist George Harliono has a striking presence on stage. Focussed taut playing was supported by a beautifully fluid and flirtatious right hand caressing the keyboard in such a way that the back my knee turned to jelly. The YCAT artist is one to watch.

Jinah Shim was the well-rounded pianist combining presence, technique and tenderness in addition to strength and power when Lizst’s writing called for it. There’s a solidity to her on-stage offering which is reassuring. Her storytelling is very strong.

The winner (and the only competitor I made a point of going up to during the deliberations to embarrass in front of his parents) was accordion player Ryan Corbett.

As he approached the stage the 22 year old was in already readying himself for an accordion arrangement of Lizst’s Prelude and Fugue on the name B-A-C-H. This intensity was momentarily unsettling.

What followed was scintillating. Remarkable dexterity at the keyboard, jaw-dropping isolation, and captivating storytelling that leaves me wondering why any of us are wasting any more time with pianists. A spectacle.

A cracking – I know I use this word A LOT but it’s especially appropriate here – evening, not least because the judges agreed with me.

Winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition 2021 announced

Congratulations to 23-year-old Alim Beisembayev from Kazakhstan for his Leeds International Piano Competition win. Beisembayev is the first prize-winner from Kazakhstan in the history of the Leeds International Piano Competition.

He’s secured £25,000 cash prize plus a contract with Askonas Holt, a recording deal with Warner Classics, plus a European tour organised with partners Steinway & Sons

He also gets to perform with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 23 September and will also have future concert opportunities at Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre.

My money was on Kaito Kobayashi whose performance of Bartok’s third piano concerto earlier this evening really took me by surprise. Twitter followers will have also noticed I’d backed UK pianist Thomas Kelly from South East London. I really enjoyed his performance of Beethoven 4. Endearing. Keep an eye out for him in the years to come.

Royal Overseas League Music Competition 2021 – Wind and Brass Final Winner announced

A tardy post about an event I attended earlier in the week – the first of a series of six competition finals staged by the Royal Overseas League in London. The competition is now in its 69th year.

There was a sense that things were back to normal. No masks. Chit chat. Hubbub. And the opportunity to rub shoulders with musicians and punters alike. Varying ages. A warm convivial atmosphere. Royal Overseas League has an easy charm about it without being too up itself, plus there’s the modest grandeur gives proceedings a bit of a sense of ocassion.

As is often the case in these situations, I failed to pick the winner form the four person line up. All provided comeplling cases for proceeding to the Gold Medal Final in November. I enjoyed  Aaron Akugbo’s depiction of a musician getting increasingly frustrated over performances (a wiley recital opener).

Scottish soprano sax players Lewis Banks nudged ahead of the pack by introducing his programme.

My money was on penultimate competitor clarinettist Lewis Graham whose unfussy but precise and rapid articulation was a joy to behold.

The winner was flautist Marie Sato with a programme concluding with Dutilleux. The Royal College of Music graduate and former BBC Young Musician competitor (2016/2018) gets £5000 from the competition plus the chance to compete in the Gold Medal Final in November.

The competition continues every Tuesday for the next six weeks.

Tickets go quickly (the first final was full) at £15 (or £20 if you’re a non-member). Dates and categories listed below.

21 September: Singers
28 September: Keyboard
5 October: Strings
12 October: Ensemble A (Strings)
19 October: Ensemble B (Mixed)
26 October: Overseas Award
24 November: Gold Medal Final

Ulla Benz calls for help for Aghanistani musicians

Incoming this morning, distressing pictures from a music department in Afghanistan where instruments have reportedly been destroyed by the Taliban.

These images and an associated statement from a German musician who works with Professor William Harvey, an emeritus professor at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, accompany a call for UK musicians and politicians to help rescue musicians from Aghanistan.

Further details about the call for help are included below in the statement sent out by Ulla Benz. Contact details are at the bottom of this blog post.

Ulla Benz is a German violinist who teaches at the Berlin University of the Arts, and is also a medical Doctor in Munich working on a voluntary basis for Cultures in Harmony (http://culturesinharmony.org/a-new-way-to-support-afghans) via founder William Harvey who is concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra in Mexico and Emeritus Professor of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (https://www.anim-music.org/about-us).

The situation in Afghanistan for musicians and artists is tragic, and extremely dangerous. In the past weeks the Taliban have been destroying instruments, and now musicians are also being persecuted, their homes burned and people killed.

A WhatsApp group of over one hundred and sixty Afghan musicians is full of cries for help which Ulla and William see on a daily basis. Some of these musicians have also been victims of previous ISIS bombings. Ulla is personally connected to one young musician – seventeen years old – who’s violin was burnt by the Taliban and then she was seriously injured in the Kabul airport bombing, and is now in hospital. Two of her friends were among the fatalities.

This story is representative; other musicians had their houses searched by the Taliban and have had to flee and spend the night in the open, others have already been killed :

(https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/amid-anti-taliban-uprising-taliban-kill-afghan-folk-singer-with-whom-they-had-tea-before-report-101630240122776.html).

The hoped-for solution is to rescue these musicians from Afghanistan and offer them a safe country to live in. Ulla has a compiled a list of more than three hundred musicians and, currently, this list is available from the foreign ministries of Mexico, Italy, Germany and the USA. We know that not one government can take them all these musicians in, so we want to try to get help from everywhere.

Musicians and politicians from the UK are needed to help support this project to rescue musicians from Afghanistan – can anyone help?

Contact for more information :

Ulla Benz


ulla_violin@yahoo.de


Tel: +49 170 5988913

www.ullabenz.com

Who are the Leeds International Piano Competition 2021 Semi-Finalists?

10 pianists representing nine countries through to the semi-final of the world-renowned piano competition.

Announced this evening, ten pianists are through to the semi-finals of the Leeds International Piano Competition. I’m especially clapping my hands together excitedly because UK pianist Thomas Kelly is through. Kelly is something of local celebrity in the Thoroughly Good Catchment Area. He was born in Bromley, South East London, just a 10-minute bus ride from TG HQ.

The Leeds International Piano Competition 2021 Semi-Finalists are:

Alim Beisembayev (23, Kazakhstan)
Dmytro Choni (28, Ukraine)
Thomas Kelly (22, United Kingdom)
Elizaveta Kliuchereva (22, Russia)
Kaito Kobayashi (25, Japan)
Ariel Lanyi (23, Israel)
Yuzhang Li (22, China)
Priscilla Navarro (27, Peru)
Hyunjin Roh (20, South Korea)
Xiaolu Zang (21, China)

When are the Leeds International Piano Competition 2021 Semi-Finals and Finals?

The Semi-Finals and Finals of The Leeds will take place at the University of Leeds and Leeds Town Hall between 12-14 Sept and 17-18 Sept respectively. All rounds have so far been streamed worldwide by medici.tv, with the Semi-Finals and Finals broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and the Finals aired live on BBC Four from 7pm BST.

The Concerto Final performances take place at Leeds Town Hall with The Leeds’ new orchestral partners, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Manze, alongside an enhanced programme of activities during the Competition in Leeds.