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NCEM Young Composers Award 2016

Congratulations to Alex Dakin (18 years and under) and Kristina Arakelyan (19 to 25 years), winners of the 2016 NCEM Young Composers Award presented in association with BBC Radio 3. 

NCEM will celebrate BBC Radio 3's 70th anniversary with a premiere of the winning pieces at the Southbank Centre, London on Saturday 24 September at 12.30pm .  Alex Dakin's Sonnet 147 and Kristina Arakelyan's Penelope will feature alongside music by Dowland, Holborne and Morley in a performance by Theatre of the Ayre, directed by leading lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, with mezzo-soprano Anna Staruschkevych and tenor Charles Daniels. This concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show the following day, Sunday 25 September at 2.00pm.



Watch the recording featuring the eight pieces shortlisted for the 2016 Award. The performance took place at the NCEM on Thursday 12 May.

The new pieces were performed by Theatre of the Ayre, directed by one of Europe's leading lutenists Elizabeth Kenny , with tenor Nicholas Mulroy and mezzo soprano Anna Starushkevych . The winners were announced after the concert by Les Pratt, BBC Radio 3 Producer, one of the three judges. The other judges were Elizabeth Kenny, Director of Theatre of the Ayre and Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music. There were two awards: one for composers aged 18 years and under, won by Alex Dakin and one for composers aged 19 to 25 won by Kristina Arakelyan.

The shortlisted pieces were:

19 to 25 years:

Kristina Arakelyan        Penelope (Winner)

Alan Barclay                  Persephone in Repose

Christian Drew              Sonnet 147

Robin Haigh                  Three Littul Ayres

18 years and under:

Alex Dakin                     Sonnet 147 (Winner)

Oscar Ridout                 Demeter

Felix Saward                  If love make me forsworn

Katrina Toner                 Demeter

Find out more about the composers and their pieces here

Their Recordings can be heard below

Now in its 9th year, the annual NCEM Young Composers Award attracts composers from across the UK. The 2016 Award, presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and Theatre of the Ayre, invited composers to create a contemporary response to one of the most intimate musical forms of the Renaissance, the lute song, and the music had to set one of four selected poems by William Shakespeare or Carol Ann Duffy

The composers were invited to take part in a workshop of the shortlisted pieces, presented by Theatre of the Ayre and led by composer Christopher Fox, Professor in Music at Brunel University. This was followed by the evening performance, which was recorded courtesy of music technology students Davide Cuoghi and Jed Fulwell from the Department of Electronics at the University of York. The recordings will be available to listen to on this page shortly.

If you would like to receive details of the 2017 NCEM Young Composers Award when they become available, email us at

For further information see:

BBC Radio 3 Early Music Show

Elizabeth Kenny and Theatre of the Ayre

2016 Terms and Conditions.pdf

Writing for the Lute.pdf

Selected poems and recommended recordings.pdf

The 2016 NCEM Young Composers Award is supported by the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust