Once again, Harrison Birtwistle’s (above) name looms large over the British Composer Awards (BCA). In the shortlists for the 2014 awards, announced today, Birtwistle is nominated in two categories: the Vocal category for his Songs from the same Earth and the Choral category for his The Moth Requiem.


Birtwistle has featured regularly in the awards since they were launched in 2003, and this year’s nominations take his tally up to 12 in all. His success rate at converting nominations into wins is fairly impressive too. He has won five awards so far, though interestingly, the work with which he has had the greatest impact in recent years, 2009 opera The Minotaur, did not win.

Two other composers have been nominated twice in this year’s awards. John McCabe will be hoping that his Sonata after William Byrd’s Haec Dies and Joybox will bring him success in the Instrumental Solo and Orchestral categories respectively, and Kerry Andrew has nominations with Dart’s Love (Stage Works category) and Woodwose: A Community Chamber Opera (Community or Educational Project category).

Familiarity does not breed contempt among BCA juries, as Birtwistle is one of several past winners to appear again in the 2014 shortlists – Kerry Andrew, Thomas Adès, Lucy Pankhurst, Luke Bedford, Jonathan Dove, Judith Weir, Lynne Plowman and Helen Grime have all previously enjoyed the taste of BCA winners’ champagne.

Slightly enigmatically, meanwhile, the BCA press release tells us that ‘both Samuel Bordoli (aged 27) and Tom White (aged 28) are the youngest shortlisted composers’ in this year’s awards. And undoubtedly the oldest is Elliott Carter, who was 103 when he died in November 2012 – his Epigrams is nominated posthumously in the International Award category.

Held each year in December, the British Composer Awards ceremony is broadcast on Radio 3. The shortlists and winners are chosen by a range of juries comprised of fellow composers plus other influential members of the classical music community.

Full details of the 2014 shortlists can be read here.


Women absent from winners of the 2013 Composer Awards


Winners of the 2012 British Composer Awards announced