Shortlists for the 2017 British Composer Awards announced

Record number of entries for this year's competition

Composer Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian

The shortlists for the 2017 British Composer Awards (BCA) have been announced. This year's line-up features thirty composers and 33 works in 11 categories, from Solo to Stage Work, Wind Band to Contemporary Jazz.


Just four years after the annual competition caused a stir when all its winners were men, women make up 42 per cent of the shortlist. Half of the nominees are under the age of 40, and half of the shortlisted composers have been nominated for the first time.

This is the second year that the shortlists have been judged anonymously – with the exception of the Sonic Art, Community or Educational Project and Stage Works categories – and that composers, rather than publishers, have been able to submit their own pieces. It's also been the BCA's most popular year, with entries up 18.5 per cent.

Composers Sally Beamish, Emily Peasgood and Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian have all been nominated twice. For the first time in the competition's 14-year history, the Orchestral category features an all-female shortlist, with pieces by Helen Grime, Tansy Davies and Emily Howard. 

Followers of the Awards may also notice that a familiar name is absent from the shortlists. Sir Harrison Birtwistle is the BCA's most-awarded composer, with seven wins to date as well as 14 nominations, but doesn't appear this year. However, his late contemporary Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has been honoured posthumously for his community opera The Hogboon, written in the last year of his life.

'The works nominated here speak to politics, ecology, art and history and somehow manage to distil the disorder about is into form,' says Crispin Hunt, chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. 'It's inspiring to note a significant uplift in submissions this year, especially to see so many first-time nominees and young composers shortlisted – further testimony to the pioneering musical spirit of today.'

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 6 December 2017.

The shortlist in full:

Amateur or Young Performers
The Feast That Went Off With A Bang by Ed Hughes 
The Hogboon by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Who We Are by Kerry Andrew

Chamber Ensemble
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian 
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy 

Affix Stamp Here by Leo Chadburn 
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton 
The Temptations of Christ by Barnaby Martin 

Community or Educational Project
Anything but Bland by Brian Irvine 
BIRDS and other Stories by Emily Peasgood
Crossing Over by Emily Peasgood 

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Loop Concerto for jazz trio & large ensemble by Benjamin Oliver
Muted Lines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
You Are My World by Robert Mitchell

Forest by Tansy Davies 
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard
Two Eardley Pictures by Helen Grime

Small Chamber
In Feyre Foreste by Robin Haigh 
Omloop Het Ives by Laurence Crane
Tuvan Songbook by Christian Mason 

Solo or Duo
Inside Colour by Deborah Pritchard
Merula Perpetua by Sally Beamish
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Stuart MacRae 

Sonic Art
cloud-cuckoo-island by Hanna Tuulikki
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde 
Untitled Valley of Fear by Sam Salem 

Stage Works
4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables
Empty Hand, Peaceful Mind by Ben Gaunt
The Tempest by Sally Beamish 


Wind Band or Brass Band
Anemoi by Joseph Davies 
Four Études by Edward Gregson 
In Ictu Oculi by Kenneth Hesketh