The Ivors Academy this evening announced The Ivors Composer Awards 2019 winners at a glittering ceremony at the British Museum in London, presented by BBC Radio 3’s Kate Molleson and Tom Service.
A Trombone Concerto inspired by a recently-discovered illuminated manuscript, a chamber opera telling the story of the African freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, a sound art experience designed to be listened to whilst walking along the banks of the River Tyne and an educational project which champions the importance of music education for children are among the winners of the prestigious awards.
The Ivors Composer Awards, now in its 17th year and previously known as the British Composer Awards, celebrate and honour the best new works by UK contemporary composers in Classical, Jazz and Sound Art. They celebrate the art of composition and are sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.
Crispin Hunt, Chair of The Ivors Academy, said: “It is a privilege for The Ivors Academy to honour these exceptional composers, and we’re especially delighted to have so many first-time winners this year. The works recognised today - and the creators behind them - adventure far into the evolving musical landscape. We’re thrilled to award such a rich variety of talent. Our congratulations go out to all the nominees and winners.”
Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3, said: “At Radio 3 we believe arts and music are an essential part of what it means to be human. That’s why we’re proud to support innovators in contemporary music as the broadcast partner of The Ivors Composer Awards – it’s part of our commitment to experimental music and pushing boundaries of sound, and through that, understanding. Congratulations to all the winners and those on the shortlist, without you sharing new ideas and pushing the whole musical scene forward, the world would be a less interesting place musically.”
Ivor Novello Awards were presented across eleven nominated categories that included jazz composition, works for chamber ensemble and those written for Amateur or Young Performers. In addition, two composers were recognised for their wider contribution to music through the presentation of Ivor Novello Awards for Innovation and Lifetime Achievement. Of the thirteen composers awarded, all but one was honoured by The Ivors Academy for the very first time.
Nigel Elderton, Chairman, PRS for Music: “Congratulations from all of us at PRS for Music to all of the winners and nominees especially those who have won an Ivor Novello Award for the first time, it was an honour to celebrate their achievements this evening. Thank you for the fantastic music you create, and I hope this evening is one of many excellent moments in your careers.”
The Salamander and The Moonraker composed by Edward Gregson won the Amateur or Young Performers Award. A Hallé Concert Society commission it brought together a large children’s choir of 8-12-year olds to tell the story of the adventures of a group of children caught up in magical realms beyond Earth.
Dai Fujikura’s Flute Concerto won the Chamber Ensemble award. Commissioned by Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with flutist Claire Chase in mind, the piece exists in two versions, one for orchestra and one for ensemble, with the same solo part. The soloist uses four different flutes throughout.
In the Choral category, Geoff Hannan won for Pocket Universe, which sets words of Sir Isaac Newton’s philosophies and Galileo Galiliei’s dialogue to music and explores the energy of the texts.
Another first-time winner, double-nominee Charlotte Harding, won the Ivor Novello Award for Community or Educational Project for Convo, which highlights the importance of music education for children. An ambitious two-year project that brought together children from across eight schools at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year.
This year’s youngest winner, Laura Jurd won with Jumping In for Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble. Taking inspiration from the likes of American banjo and rock n roll, the piece makes use of collective improvisation to achieve various sonic textures as well as shining a spotlight on featured soloists as the piece develops.
The Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble was won by Alison Rayner’s There is a Crack in Everything, written for her niece who cycled the hills and lochs of Scotland looking for a crack of light. The rhythm of cycling up hills, freewheeling down, the sound of the spokes and clicks of the gears.
Influenced by a recently discovered illuminated manuscript, overflowing with Christian myths and fantastical beasts and commissioned by BBC Radio 3, The Book of Miracles (Trombone Concerto) by Gavin Higgins won the Orchestral category.
James Weeks collected his second award in as many years, this time in the Small Chamber category for Leafleoht, which uses elemental sonorities to suggest images of the natural world.
Charlotte Bray won her first Ivor Novello Award in the Solo or Duo category for Invisible Cities. A piece for viola and piano which takes inspiration from Calvino’s book of the same name and reflects on the urban environment.
In the Sound Art category, Martin Green won with Aeons: A Sound Walk for Newcastle. A piece designed to be listened to during a half-hour walk along the Hadrian’s Wall Path on the banks of the River Tyne and commissioned for the Great Exhibition of the North by Opera North.
Bringing history to life through music, first-time winner Hilda Paredes won the Stage Works award with Harriet (‘Scene in the life of Harriet Tubman’), a chamber opera which tells the story of the African freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, who saved many slaves via The Underground Railroad.
The Ivors Academy also gifted two Ivor Novello Awards to composers in recognition of their contributions to new music throughout their careers to date:
The Ivor Novello Award for Innovation was awarded to Anna Meredith MBE, whose work straddles the genres of classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock, and who is often described as ‘uncategorizable’ and ‘genre-defying’. This award acknowledges Anna’s innovative approach to composition, with the diversity of her recent projects spanning commissions for the Aurora Orchestra and Scottish Ensemble, to scoring feature film Eighth Grade and designing sound installations for sleep pods in Singapore and park benches in Hong Kong. Her recent album FIBS was released last month on Moshi Moshi.
Erika Fox was presented with the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement, in association with the Music Publishers Association. A prolific composer whose music was a familiar presence on concert stages in the 1970s, 80s & 90s, Erika Fox’s music highlights her natural affinity for the human voice and theatre and is suffused with East European folk music. This year, at the age of 83, NMC released the first full length recording of her music, Paths by the Goldfield Ensemble. Shining a new light on her exceptional talent the Sunday Times hailed it as 'refreshingly unusual ... a ritual of untethered lines' and others rejoicing in the rediscovery of ‘one of the 20th and 21st century’s most significant compositional voices in the UK’.
During the awards ceremony Sally Beamish, the recipient of the 2018 Inspiration Award, performed Exequy for solo viola, in memory of composer John Joubert who passed away in January 2019.
BBC Radio 3 will broadcast a programme dedicated to The Ivors Composer Awards at 9pm to 11pm on Sunday, 8th December.
The Ivors Composer Awards 2019 Winners:
AMATEUR OR YOUNG PERFORMERS
The Salamander and The Moonraker by Edward Gregson
Flute Concerto by Dai Fujikura
Pocket Universe by Geoff Hannan
COMMUNITY OR EDUCATIONAL PROJECT
Convo by Charlotte Harding
JAZZ COMPOSITION FOR LARGE ENSEMBLE
Jumping In by Laura Jurd
JAZZ COMPOSITION FOR SMALL ENSEMBLE
There is a Crack in Everything by Alison Rayner
The Book of Miracles (Trombone Concerto) by Gavin Higgins
Leafleoht by James Weeks
SOLO OR DUO
Invisible Cities by Charlotte Bray
Aeons: A Sound Walk for Newcastle by Martin Green
Harriet (‘Scenes in the life of Harriet Tubman’) by Hilda Paredes
Anna Meredith MBE
For more information visit www.ivorsacademy.com or follow @IvorsAcademy