British Composer Awards 2015 shortlist announced

Harrison Birtwistle, Julian Anderson and James MacMillan all nominated

James MacMillan
Published: October 29, 2015 at 11:40 am

The shortlist for this year’s British Composer Awards has been announced.


Six-time award winner and six-time nominee Harrison Birtwistle has once again been shortlisted, this year for his orchestral work Responses: Sweet disorder and the carefully careless. The line-up of 36 nominations in 12 categories also includes previous winners James MacMillan and Kerry Andrew, but 40 per cent of the nominees have been shortlisted for the first time.

Two composers have double nominations. James MacMillan has been chosen in both the Liturgical and Choral categories, for his Little Mass and St Luke Passion, respectively. And Julian Anderson has been shortlisted for his String Quartet No. 2 in Small Chamber, premiered by the Arditti Quartet, and Thebans in the Stage Works category, first staged by English National Opera. His opera is competing with Gabriel Prokofiev’s electroacoustic homage to the ballet La bayadère and Brian Irvine’s Things We Throw Away, which was premiered around the streets of Belfast. And a science fiction opera, Tycho’s Dream by Luke Styles, features in Community or Educational Project.

Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir has been nominated in the Solo or Duo slot for her Day Break Shadows Flee, a two-part piano invention written for pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. She’s up against Michael Finnissy’s solo piano work Beat Generation Ballads and Sohrab Uduman’s bass clarinet and piano work Glitschig.

For the statisticians, the age of the composers ranges from those in their twenties (Samuel Bordoli and Kate Whitley) to 81-year-old Birtwistle. 420 works were submitted by over 270 composers – 33 per cent more entries than in previous years, which chair Stephen McNeff attributes to a new digital application system. 60 composers, musicians and producers judged the entries.

Two years ago the British Composer Awards caused controversy when no women won awards. This year just six of the 33 shortlisted composers are women.

The results will be announced at a ceremony at the British Film Institute on Wednesday 9 December, and will feature in a Hear and Now special on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 12 December.


The full shortlist can be found here.


Rebecca Franks
Rebecca FranksJournalist, Critic and former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine

Rebecca Franks is the former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine and a regular classical music critic for The Times. She is currently writing her first children's book.

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