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NCEM Composers Award Launched

21 November 2008

The National Centre for Early Music is working in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble The Tallis Scholars to offer the new prestigious NCEM Composers Award.

This is the first year of this new partnership and the winning pieces will receive the honour of being premiered and sung by The Tallis Scholars in the opening concert in the 2009 York Early Music Festival at York Minster. BBC Radio 3 will record this concert.

The new NCEM Composers Award is a national competition open to young composers aged up to 18 years and 19 to 25 years who are invited to compose a new a cappella piece (unaccompanied) for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.

Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music, is delighted with the new partnership and this fantastic opportunity for young composers. She commented: "It is a huge privilege to be working with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars on this National Award. The partnership will really help to develop young talent and will give the winners the amazing chance to listen to some of the best singers in the world perform their pieces in one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world."

The selection process of the NCEM Composers Award involves an outstanding comprehensive development programme for the shortlisted finalists, who will work alongside the well-known composer Christopher Fox, in a series of workshops at the NCEM next May. The compositions will then be performed by York's own Ebor Singers at a public performance on Thursday 14 May in the presence of the young composers. The pieces will be recorded by music technology students from the University of York and will be available to listen to on the NCEM website.

Director of The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips adds that it was a very exciting development for The Tallis Scholars: " The Tallis Scholars are delighted to further their initiative of holding a national composition competition by joining forces with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM. For us as performers, the competition offers a thrilling way to celebrate and encourage young composers to develop modern a cappella writing."

To enter these Awards, the following rules apply:

  • The piece should be scored for SATB or SSATB.
  • The piece should be between 3 and 4 minutes' duration.
  • The lyrics should be of a text that is suitable to be presented in York Minster; should be in Latin/English (written after Shakespeare's time ie not medieval English); and should be clear of copyright.
  • The composition should be entirely your own work and not previously published/performed. Proof of identity will be required by all those shortlisted.
  • Only one piece per entrant is permitted.
  • The NCEM Composers Award is not open to employees or family members of the National Centre for Early Music, The Tallis Scholars or the BBC.
  • The NCEM Composers Award is intended as an educational project and preference will be given to those who have not yet embarked on a professional career.
Young composers must submit expressions of interest to the NCEM by 27 March 2009 and final scores must be submitted by Friday 3 April 2009. The Award will be judged by Peter Phillips, Director of The Tallis Scholars; Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer BBC Radio 3 and Delma Tomlin, Director of the NCEM and the winners will be announced from the NCEM on Thursday 14 May.

Information and applications are available to download from or
Alternatively you can contact the NCEM on 01904 632220 or email

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