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Winners of the NCEM 2013 Composers Award

29 April 2013

The NCEM Composers Award 2013, presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and Florilegium, has been won by Lilly Vadaneaux (aged 11) in the 18 years and under category -  the youngest winner and youngest entry to the competition to date - and by Joseph Howard (aged 20) in the 19 to 25 years category.

Lilly Vadaneaux's Sarabande in F sharp minor (18 and under category) and Joseph Howard's Move! (19 - 25 category) will be premièred by Florilegium at the prestigious Bath International Music Festival at St. Mary's Church Bathwick on Saturday 1 June at 5.00pm and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show on Sunday 23 June. 

Young composers, resident in the UK, were invited to create a contemporary response to one of the predominant chamber music forms of the Baroque, the dance suite. They were asked to write a new three to four minute instrumental 'dance' for the four core players of Florilegium to play, scored for: flute or recorder; violin or viola d'amore; cello or piccolo-cello; harpsichord or organ. They were encouraged to base it on any dance-form they wished and to consider all eras and cultures - old or new, from the reel to the rumba. Seven finalists were selected and invited to the National Centre for Early Music in York on Saturday 27 April, when their entries were work-shopped by Florilegium and Christopher Fox, composer and Professor in Music, Brunel University, London.

At 7.30pm on the same day, Florilegium performed each of the pieces at a public concert. The concert was given in front of a panel of judges comprising Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music, Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer BBC Radio 3 and Ashley Solomon, Director of Florilegium.

Delma Tomlin said: "Yet again we have been astonished by the consistently high standard of entries and wealth of ideas around the given theme. It is inspiring to witness these young composers collaborate with each other and clearly enjoy their time at the NCEM with members of Florilegium and Christopher Fox. We look forward to the winning pieces' premieres at Bath International Music Festival, which is a great honour for these young composers at the outset of their careers. As the National Centre for Early Music, our partnership with Bath broadens the geographical significance of this Award for young composers across the UK and follows NCEM Composers Award premieres in Durham in 2012 and London in 2011."  

Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer, BBC Radio 3 added: "BBC Radio 3 is delighted to be a partner - for the fifth year running - of this increasingly successful and creative award for young composers. Our popular weekend Early Music Show provides the ideal platform with which to bring Lilly Vadaneaux and Joseph Howard's imaginative new works, for period instruments, written especially for the prestigious early music group Florilegium, to a wide audience. Radio 3 is committed to supporting new talent and encouraging active engagement with the arts. Our partnership with the National Centre of Early Music gives a dynamic illustration of this at work."

Ashley Solomon, director of Florilegium said: "We have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this unique competition in collaboration with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM. From over 70 entries to have selected the final seven was a challenge in itself. All of the compositions presented in this evening's performance deserve to win accolades for their inventiveness, creativity and unique take on the original remit. As an ensemble we have enjoyed the process of learning these short new works, collaborating with the composers in the workshop today and delivering this final performance.

"Whilst all the finalists clearly understood the challenge set in writing a contemporary work for period instruments, the two winning works stand out as exceptional compositions and we look forward to their official premiere as part of the Bath International Festival in June."

The concert performance was streamed live and is available until 20 May 2013 at: 

The shortlisted entries were recorded by music technology students from the University of York and will be available to listen to on the NCEM website


Press Contact: 
Shona Galletly, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music 
m: 07813 796 733

Notes to Editors:
1. The National Centre for Early Music is administered by the York Early Music Foundation and funded by Arts Council England, Yorkshire. 

2. BBC Radio 3 is the home of classical music and broadcasts a wide range of distinctive classical and cultural programming including jazz, world music, arts and over 30 new drama programmes a year. The station broadcasts more live classical music programming than any other and is the home of the BBC Proms, broadcasting every Prom live and over 600 complete concerts a year. Radio 3 is also committed to supporting new talent; composers, writers and new young performers through schemes such as World Routes Academy, New Generation Artists, New Generation Thinkers and is the most significant commissioner of new musical works in the country.

3. Florilegium: 
Ashley Solomon flute, recorder, director
Bojan Čičić violin, viola d'amore
Jennifer Morsches cello, piccolo cello
Julian Perkins harpsichord

Florilegium has established an international reputation for its stylish and exciting interpretations of music, from intimate chamber works to orchestral and choral repertoire. The 2011/12 season included a tour with Arakaendar Bolivia Choir, the Bolivian choir that Ashley Solomon formed to perform Bolivian baroque repertoire, and included performances at York Early Music Festival. Highlights this season include three concerts in the 'Bach Unwrapped' series at Kings Place; Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Bach's Brandenburg concertos at Bath International Festival; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the Three Choirs Festival. Florilegium has held a number of residencies, including Ensemble- in-Residence at the Wigmore Hall 1998-2000, and since 2008 has been Ensemble-in-Association at the Royal College of Music. Its 25 recordings for Channel Classics have been awarded many prizes in the UK and abroad, including a BBC Music Magazine award nomination, Gramophone  Editor's Choice and an Edison Award (Netherlands).

4. Winners Biographies

18-and-under category 

Lilly Vadaneaux b. 2002
Sarabande in F sharp minor
'The viola d'amore and its resonating sound inspired me to build on a theme that came to me one day at the piano. Just like the key of F sharp minor, the theme is bright and sad at the same time. The flute and the viola d'amore carry the melody together, supporting each other like dance partners. The cello anchors the harmony with its deep, extended notes, while the harpsichord part glides up and down the keyboard in rhythmic waves. As the piece progresses, there are many changes, and the melody travels between major and minor harmonies and moves to different rhythms. The viola d'amore eventually breaks away and is alone for a moment before it is re-joined by the flute and moves towards the opening theme once again. But when it returns, the melody is never exactly as it was - the musicians are in a new place, playing echoes of something from the past, like a memory.'

Lilly Vadaneaux lives in London and is a joint-first-study composer and pianist at the Guildhall School of Music junior department, where she studies composition with Paul Whitmarsh and piano with Stephen Coombs. A number of her compositions have been performed in public - most recently Mirage, a piece for string orchestra that was performed by the St Paul's Sinfonia at St Alfege Church in Greenwich. She won the Own Composition Prize for Faraway Bells Sonata, which she performed at the Wigmore Hall, in November 2011, in the Winners' Concert of the Jacques Samuel Piano Festival. Her composition Trapped, for viola and piano, was selected by the Yorke Dance Project Young Composers' Competition to be choreographed with a youth dance group and was performed in November 2012 at Swindon Dance.

19 - 25 category

Joseph Howard b.1993
'The starting point for my piece was the baroque suite and its cross-national styles and influences. Initially I took one of the core dances of the baroque suite, the sarabande, which was originally a Spanish import from Latin America (the zarabanda), and was a lively and outrageous dance for its time; the dance only later developed a slower and more serious style in France and Germany that is most recognisable today. This later style I have fused with the modern Latin American salsa, whose characteristics reflect the original zarabanda.'

Joseph Howard began his musical studies aged 12, studying piano under the tutelage of composer Edd Caine. The first public performance of his work was given as part of York Late Music Festival 2011. He is currently a second-year music student at the University of Birmingham, where he is studying acoustic and electroacoustic composition.

5. Finalists in the 2012 NCEM Composers Award

18-and-under category:
Lillie Harris b. 1994
The Dahomey Amazons Take a Tea Break
'This piece is a fusion between a baroque gigue and an African dance called the adzogbo. The title is inspired by a female military war unit that existed in the part of Africa from which this dance comes, and the fusion is represented by putting these warriors together with the idea of having tea. I wanted to marry the different dances together as closely as possible, so what becomes a ground bass in the cello is based on an African rhythm that remains constant throughout the piece. Similarly, in the second half, the freer moments that are like solos are inspired by both the baroque melody-dominated style and a lead drummer's improvisations in African drumming.
Above all I wanted the piece to have movement, so at various points the players are
required to tap their feet, clap and use their instruments percussively.'

Lillie Harris completed her A-levels last year at Kent College, Canterbury, and began studies in composition at the Royal College of Music in September 2012. Having had a strong interest in music for most of her life, she became particularly interested in composition at around 15, and in 2010 and 2011 attended the Sound and Music Summer School. After the first year, she was invited along with four other attendees to take part in the 'Young Xenarchitects' project, and her piece Nineteen-to-Twenty-Hundred AD was performed at the Southbank Centre in April 2011. She has Grade 8 distinction in both piano and flute, and has always enjoyed creative writing. She particularly enjoys the existence of stories in music, and works that inspire strong emotional reactions, and so pays close attention to the emotive qualities of her music.

Kethaki Prathivadi b. 1998
Vivimos el Tango
'This piece is aimed at capturing the essence of the rhythmic movements and passionof the tango. The contrapuntal texture and the distribution of the melody and accompaniment among the various parts provides a conversation between the musicians of Florilegium.'

Kethaki Prathivadi is a student at the North Halifax Grammar School. A keen singer, both as a soloist and in choirs, she is also very interested in composing, and enjoys playing the piano and violin. She is a member of Yorkshire Young Musicians,Yorkshire Youth Choir and Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra, and is also actively involved in many musical groups in school. In addition to her musical activities, she is also very interested in science and languages and enjoys creative dancing.

Yuanfan Yang b. 1997
Crushed Suites
'Based on an ABA form, this piece consists of three different baroque dances fused with two dances from a more modern era: I have 'crushed' all these dances together into a four-minute piece. The selection and fusion of these dances has helped create a piece that shows the turbulent mix of amusement, mischievousness, aspirations, sentimentality and perplexity in teenagers' minds and feelings.'

Yuanfan Yang was born in Edinburgh and now studies composition and piano at Chetham's School of Music. His Fantasy in G for piano was broadcast on BBC Two (2008) and his arrangement of 'Scarborough Fair' was premiered in the keyboard final of the BBC Young Musician 2010 and won his category in the 2010 EPTA-UK Composers Competition. In 2011 his piano composition Waves won the overall award in the EPTA-UK Composers Competition and was highly commended in the BBC Proms Young Composers Competition. His Haunted Bell won first prize in the junior group of the Golden Key Music Festival Piano Composition Competition in 2012. He started to learn the piano at the age of six and went on to pass Grade 8 with distinction at the age of eight, after which he gained the DipABRSM aged 10. He has won many competitions, including the keyboard category of the BBC Young Musician 2012, the 2010 RNCM James Mottram International Piano Competition (under 19),and the 2009 Manchester International Piano Concerto Competition for Young Pianists (age 16 and under). He was awarded the Walter Todds Bursary for his performance at the BBC Young Musician 2010 keyboard category final.

19 - 25 category: 
Seán Doherty b.1987
'Springar owes its genesis to the assorted instruments of Florilegium. The viola d'amore reminded me of the Norwegian hardanger fiddle, with whom it shares a set of sympathetic strings; I had been reacquainted with the sound of the hardanger fiddle during the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2012 held in my home town of Derry, which celebrated fiddle music from a vast geographical arc from northern Norway, through Scotland and Ireland, to Nova Scotia in Canada. I realised that the other instruments available in Florilegium could be made to resemble traditional Norwegian instruments through idiomatic writing: the voice flute mimics the sjørfløyte; the piccolo cello, the psalmodicon; the harpsichord, the langeleik. Though it would be surprising to see this particular group of instruments in a traditional Norwegian gathering, the effect is that of friends who have grabbed any instrument at hand to wile away a long winter's evening. A springar is a Norwegian folk dance, traditionally danced by a couple. After a small fugal section - a nod to the idealised form of the baroque gigue - the four instruments split into two groups, each of which enacts the courting ritual inherent in the dance. These two groups then interact and eventually combine to create a unison statement of the main theme before a recapitulation of the opening material. Foot stamping, so prominent in Norwegian traditional music, occurs throughout.'

Seán Doherty played the fiddle music of his native Derry and Donegal before reading music at St John's College, University of Cambridge, and completing his PhD at Trinity College, University of Dublin, where he now lectures in counterpoint and baroque music history. His research interests focus on seventeenth-century music theory, and, in particular, that of the Irish theorist William Bathe (1564-1614). His compositions have garnered many awards, including the Jerome Hynes Young Composers Award, the Feis Ceoil Choral Composition Competition, the St Giles' Cathedral Composition Competition and the Choir and Organ Magazine Composition Competition. In 2012 he was commissioned (by the Legacy Trust UK for the Cultural Olympiad) to write his first opera with the author Carlo Gébler. In 2013 he was commissioned (by the Culture Company for Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013) to write a second opera with the same librettist. His choral piece based on texts attributed to St Colmcille (commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland) will be premiered later this year by the chamber choir Codetta.

Marianna Filippi b.1992
The Charlatan's Masquerade
'This piece was inspired by Venetian masks and the masquerade ball. All my compositions are designed to tell a story, while also maintaining musical flow according to the subject or ensemble involved, so for this piece I decided to tell the story of a masked joker, or a charlatan. He presents himself as a noble and enchanting man and steals the attention of all the young ladies in the room, until - in   frenzy - he takes off his mask and reveals his true character, which is mocking and seems to laugh at how brilliantly he has fooled his audience. The piece then returns to a second variation of the main theme, which is much more manic and distressed then the original, depicting the joker trying on a different mask to see if he can cause more mischief. He soon gives up and returns to his true character, until he becomes out of control, which is musically portrayed by a second variation of the climactic moment when he takes off his mask, followed by the original main theme falling into chromatic chaos. The piece ends with a surprise D major chord, reiterating the jokerlike nature of the piece.'

Marianna Filippi has been inspired by music since an early age, particularly the work of Loreena McKennitt and David Arkenstone, as well as film scores and soundtracks by such composers as James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer. Alongside an ambition to become a film scorer, she also plays the accordion, and has composed many folk songs, jigs, reels, and aires. Now a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, she often incorporates folk song into her non-folk compositions, such as a recent orchestral piece that she completed in her second year at college.

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