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Winner Announced for the NCEM Composers Award 2009

19 May 2009

The prestigious NCEM Composers Award 2009, presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, has been won by 16-year-old Elizabeth Edwards and 23-year-old Michael Perrett.

The winners were announced at a special finalists' concert at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) in York, where all six short-listed pieces were performed by the York-based Ebor Singers. The competition was judged by Peter Phillips, Director of The Tallis Scholars, Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer with BBC Radio 3 and Delma Tomlin, Director of the NCEM.

The competition saw over 50 entrants from up and down the country, with the youngest aged 11 years old. The winning pieces written for four-part a cappella (unaccompanied) choir will be premiered by the internationally renowned Tallis Scholars at the opening concert of the York Early Music Festival on Friday 10 July in York Minster. Highlights of the concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show on Saturday 25 July 2009.

There were two age categories in this competition - under 18 years, and 19 to 25 years - and the six short-listed candidates had the opportunity to work with the Ebor Singers and the composer Christopher Fox prior to the finalists' concert.

Elizabeth Edwards from Camberley in Surrey was the youngest participant in the shortlist. She is part of the Colourstrings Saturday Music School in South London, where she learns cello with Miguel Calvo and piano with Shay Loya. At school, Elizabeth plays bass recorder in the recorder consort, string bass in the swing band and sings in the senior choir and has just won a place as a music specialist at Wells Cathedral School and will begin her A level studies in September.

Her entry was entitled Arise, with text from Isaiah chapter 60. She commented: "I have never entered a competition before but my musicianship teacher, David Viden encouraged me. I wanted a new experience and to concentrate on composition and this was an ideal way for me to gain experience. I began arranging music three years ago and moved from arranging to composing. It was fantastic to hear the piece performed live in the competition - it was just as I imagined it - the Ebor Singers' voices really did the piece justice. I am very excited to think that The Tallis Scholars will perform it in York Minster and looking forward to being there with my family."

Michael Perrett, a clarinettist, from Hampshire is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Michael has recently given performances of Carter, Birtwistle and Holt and his formal study of composition began only recently. He now studies privately with Matthew Sergeant. He hopes to study composition at postgraduate level.

His piece, entitled God, is a setting of a minstrel song from Isaac Rosenberg's
verse-play Moses published in 1916. Speaking about his success Michael said: "I have never entered a competition before, and wasn't sure if my piece was good enough. I only submitted it the day before it was due and was really surprised when it won. The inspiration for the piece comes from the text. I find Rosenberg poetry intensely visual and very inspirational - the words conjure up strange images for me. It was fantastic to hear the piece performed live and I felt the Ebor Singers really understood it. I am really excited to know The Tallis Scholars will sing it in front of hundreds of people in York Minster and that it will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3."

Peter Phillips, Director of The Tallis Scholars now has the task of preparing the winning compositions for their premieres in York Minster. He said: "I was impressed by the dedication and seriousness with which these young finalists tackled the compositional process and illustrated their individual styles. Every piece was idiomatically written for a cappella singing and I am really looking forward to performing Elizabeth's and Michael's winning entries. Michael's composition in particular will be a technical challenge for us, which will be exciting; and we relish the opportunity of being able to support such talented people at the start of their careers as composers."

Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music in York commented:"We were extremely impressed with the quality of all the short-listed composers and in particular the two winners. It was inspiring to hear such pieces of maturity and to see how those pieces developed and settled in during the workshop sessions. We are delighted to be able to offer the opportunity for the winning pieces to be included and performed as part of this year's York Early Music Festival and we look forward to uncovering more talent and celebrating the works of young composers throughout the country in future years."

Fellow judge Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer from BBC Radio 3 was delighted to be able to support this initiative and uncover new young talent. He added: "It has been a joy for BBC Radio 3 as a partner to see the richness and variety of imagination from the young composers who entered this competition. We are delighted that BBC Radio 3 can provide a platform for such inspirational work and be able to broadcast the achievements of the winning young composers to a wider national audience."

All compositions from short-listed candidates were recorded by University of York music technology students and are available to listen to on the NCEM website. Information about the 2010 NCEM Composers Award will be available from September 2009 on the following websites:, and

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


Press Contact:
Shona Galletly, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music
t: 0113 255 1308
m: 07813 796 733

Notes to editors

The shortlisted candidates were: William Blake (20yrs) from Beckenham, Kent, studying at Queens College, Oxford; Paul Edis (23yrs) from Durham; Thomas Neal (18yrs) from Stockton on Tees; Tom Harrold (17yrs) from Glasgow.