Winners of 2021 Ivors Composer Awards address climate change and isolation in their pioneering new works

Thomas Adès, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Alex Paxton are among this year's winners, with the jury praising the striking originality of their new vocal, orchestral and chamber works

Published: December 9, 2021 at 10:46 am

The winners of this year's Ivors Composer Awards have been announced, with Thomas Adès, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Alex Paxton among the line-up. For the first time in Ivors history, the awards included works premiered on recording or livestream to allow for the works that were given their debut during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Advertisement

Thomas Adès picked up an Ivor for his vocal composition Gyöker (Root), commissioned by conductor Oliver Zeffman as part of his 'Eight Songs from Isolation' project. The text from Adès's new work comes from the final poems of Miklòs Radnóti during his imprisonment in a forced labour camp at the end of the Second World War. The jury praised the work as 'gut-wrenchingly beautiful, deeply poetic and strikingly original.'

Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's CATAMORPHOSIS won the Large Scale Composition Award. The orchestral work was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic and its chief conductor Kirill Petrenko earlier this year, exploring the 'fragile relationship between humankind and the planet'.

Caroline Kraabel has won this year's Sound Award Award for a new work written for a 40-minute film, London 26 and 28 March 2020: Imitation: Inversion. Scored for double bass with baritone, alto and sopranino saxophone, the piece is set to a film which features shots of London's deserted city centre during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Kraabel took the footage herself while cycling around the city.

Alex Paxton was this year's youngest winner, taking home the Small Chamber Award for his work for keyboard and drums, Sometimes Voices. Written for Hyper Duo, a Swiss experimental duo, the new piece was created and premiered during lockdown via livestream.

Andrea Czapary Martin (CEO PRS for Music) presents Alex Paxton with the Small Chamber Composition Award at The Ivors Composer Awards in the British Museum on Wednesday 8 December 2021. Photo by Mark Allan
Alex Paxton wins the Small Chamber Composition Award

Paxton's new work was praised by the dury as being 'a highly innovative work of exceptional creative imagination and musical energy.'

Martin Iddon won the Ivor for Solo Composition for Lampades, his new work for tuba and fixed media.

Fenella Humphreys presents the award for Solo composition to Martin Iddon at The Ivors Composer Awards in the British Museum on Wednesday 8 December 2021. Photo by Mark Allan
Martin Iddon wins the Solo Composition Award

The work was commissioned and performed by tuba player Jack Adler-Mckean, with an 'original soundworld creating an immersive, mysterious sense of space.'

The Ivors Academy also celebrated the career of Alexander Goehr in its Award for Outstanding Works Collection, while vocalist and composer Cleveland Watkiss received the Innovation Award.

Julian Joseph presents Cleveland Watkiss with the Innovation Award at The Ivors Composer Awards in the British Museum on Wednesday 8 December 2021. Photo by Mark Allan
Cleveland Watkiss wins the Innovation Award

The nominations for this year's Ivors Composer Awards shared a few common themes, with many of the nominated works focusing on lockdown, mythology and nature.

The Ivor Novello Awards have been running since 1956, celebrating excellence in composing across classical, jazz and sound art. Six of this year's winners received an award for the first time.

The winners of this year's Ivors Composer Awards were announced at a ceremony at the British Museum hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Tom Service and Sara Mohr-Pietsch.

The ceremony will be broadcast in a special edition of the New Music Show on BBC Radio 3 on 11 December at 10pm.

The full list of winners

JAZZ COMPOSITION
THE CAGED BIRD by NIKKI ILES
for jazz band

LARGE SCALE COMPOSITION

CATAMORPHOSIS by ANNA THORVALDSDOTTIR
for orchestra

SMALL CHAMBER COMPOSITION
SOMETIMES VOICES by ALEX PAXTON
for keyboard and drums

SOLO COMPOSITION
LAMPADES by MARTIN IDDON
for tuba and fixed media

SOUND ART

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

VOCAL OR CHORAL COMPOSITION
GYÖKÉR (ROOT) by THOMAS ADÈS
for mezzo-soprano and four percussionists

IMPACT AWARD
Zoe Rahman

INNOVATION AWARD
Cleveland Watkiss MBE

OUTSTANDING WORKS COLLECTION
Alexander Goehr

Advertisement

VISIONARY AWARD
Sarah Angliss

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

Sponsored content