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Winners Announced for the First NCEM Instrumental Composers Award 2011

The first NCEM Instrumental Composers Award, presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and the internationally acclaimed viol consort Fretwork, has been won by Bertie Baigent (16 ) and Sarah Gait (17) in the under 18 years category, and by Chris Roberts (22) in the 19 to 25 years category.


The winners of this prestigious new Instrumental Composers Award were announced at a special finalists' public concert on Tuesday 25 October at All Saints Church, North Street, York, where all seven shortlisted works were performed by Fretwork. 


The winning pieces - 'In Memoriam In Nomine' by Bertie Baigent, 'Death-Fires' by Sarah Gait and 'my o'erflowing teares' by Chris Roberts will be premièred in a concert to be given by Fretwork on Wednesday 21 December 2011 at Kings Place, London. This concert will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 and broadcast on The Early Music Show at 1.00pm on Sunday 15 January 2012.


Bertie Baigent from Oxford commented after the event: "I'm thrilled to have won and was really pleased with the performance which sounded so different from what I had envisaged, but better. I'm very excited about Fretwork performing my work in London and the broadcast."


Sarah Gait from Wigton, who had also been a finalist in the 2010 NCEM Composers Award, added: "I was both shocked and thrilled to have won and very happy that all the work I've put into this piece has had such a great result. It has been really inspiring to work with Fretwork and share the experience throughout the day with the other finalists."


Chris Roberts from Teesside, winner of the 19 - 25 age category said: "This was a great opportunity for me and it was a fantastic experience to work with such an amazing ensemble. I am currently doing a PhD in musicology at Leeds University where I'm an active member of the early music department and play the viol myself which I think has helped enormously in understanding the viol consort. I really enjoyed writing for Fretwork's particular collection of instruments. The workshop process was very helpful, it was a bit nerve-racking hearing my piece performed but as the day went on the piece just got better. I think competitions such as these are a really good way to develop as a composer."


Prior to the concert the finalists took part in a day-long workshop led by the composer Christopher Fox and Fretwork. The competition was judged by Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer, BBC Radio 3, Richard Boothby of Fretwork and Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music.


Delma Tomlin said: "We were extremely pleased by the response we've had to the Award and were delighted by the overall high standard and level of invention these young composers have applied to these new compositions."


Chris Winesadded: "BBC Radio 3's involvement demonstrates how important our commitment is to the artists of tomorrow. The gauntlet thrown at the feet of young composers this year represents the most challenging test to date, and yet the wide-ranging and imaginative response to the challenge has shown remarkable resourcefulness and creativity on the part of the young musicians. We are pleased, with our partners - the world renowned viol consort Fretwork and the NCEM - to be able to share the winning pieces with the wider Radio 3 audience."


Richard Boothby, Fretwork said: "We are honoured to take part in this Award for young composers. Our commitment to new music has grown over the years, and we see it as vital that the viol consort has a future with a new repertory written for it by today's composers. The standard of composition is very high and we are extremely impressed by the response the composers have had to the challenge of writing for these instruments."

The finalists will receive a recording of their compositions made on 25 October by music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York.


The 2012 NCEM Composers Award featuring The Tallis Scholars will be launched on 15 January on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show. Outline details of the Award will be available on the NCEM's website at in the New Year.


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

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Notes to editors:


1.     Winners Biographies


18-and-under category:

Bertie Baigent (b.1995)                           In Memoriam In Nomine

Bertie Baigent (16) was born in Oxford and is in the lower sixth at The Cherwell School. He is a keen instrumentalist and is preparing for diplomas on the cello, piano and organ. He enjoys conducting, and conducts his school orchestra, this year performing his own orchestration of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. His first experience of the viol came from taking part in an early music group run by Oxfordshire County Music Service, in which he plays viols and other early instruments such as crumhorns. Currently he holds organ scholarships and sings at St Margaret's Church, and with the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford. As a composer, he is working on a commissioned anthem for St Margaret's Church and is on this year's shortlist for the National Youth Orchestra composing scheme. He hopes to become an organ scholar and read music at Oxford or Cambridge.


Sarah Gait (b. 1994)                                Death-Fires

Sarah Gait (17) is home educated and since the age of 12 has attended the Junior Royal Northern College of Music (JRNCM). She received the JRNCM Composition Prize in 2010 and 2011. In 2009 she was awarded the second prize in the up-to-14 category of the ABRSM International Young Composers' Competition, and the Peterloo Prize of the Malcolm Arnold Composition Prize. She was also a finalist in the 2010 NCEM Composers' Award. She has written for the Black Dyke Band, the JRNCM New Music Ensemble, Ensemble 10/10 and ensembles from the National Youth Orchestra (having been a composer with the NYO for 2010). Her compositions have been performed in the RNCM Chamber Music Festival and in venues including The Sage, Birmingham Town Hall, Snape Maltings, the Southbank Centre and in a Proms Plus event at the Royal College of Music. One of her works has been choreographed, which she performed herself with dancers in Leeds and Manchester. She has a DipABRSM in both cello and piano, and is a cellist in the NYO. As composer and cellist, she has worked with Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and performed at the Spitalfields Festival with musicians from Fifth Quadrant and the Palestinian group Dal'Ouna. She is the grateful recipient of a BBC Fame Academy Bursary (for the purchase of her cello bow) and of MBF, AYM and Music and Dance Scheme awards for her musical education.



19 - 25 category:


Chris Roberts (b.1989)                      my o'erflowing teares

Christopher Roberts (22) gained his BA Music degree from the University of Leeds in 2010. He has recently completed an MMus Musicology degree and begun his doctoral study at Leeds. He is the grateful recipient of the University of Leeds Stanley Burton Research Scholarship, and his PhD research will explore the social and cultural influences on amateur music-making in provincial Yorkshire between 1660 and 1720. Active as a conductor and performer (keyboard, cello and viol), and co-founder of a student viol consort, his compositions are greatly influenced by early music and integrating 'old' and 'new' styles. Earlier this year he completed a two-part project entitled Sinfonia Concertante, which involved a combination of period and modern instruments and the music of Antonio Vivaldi. The second part of this project was premiered and recorded by LSTwo (University of Leeds Contemporary Music Ensemble) in March. His Funeral Sentences, which explores the soundscape of Henry Purcell's sacred choral anthems, was awarded second prize in the Leeds University Liturgical Choir Choral Composition Competition 2011 and will be premiered later this year.


2. Alexander Campkin, winner of the 2010 NCEM Composers Award, has recently been shortlisted for the British Composers Award - an indication and re-enforcement of the success of the NCEM Award on the national stage.


3. Remaining finalists in the 2011 NCEM Instrumental Composers Award:


19 to 25 age category:


Timothy Cooper (b. 1987)          ...shadows that in darkness dwell     


Michael Cutting (b.1987)            Rippled Surface


John Evamy (b.1987)                Votive


Robert Peate (b.1987)                De Profundis


4. BBC Radio 3 broadcasts classical music, jazz, world music, arts programmes and drama. Last year BBC Radio 3 broadcast over 600 complete concerts and operas from venues and festivals across the UK and beyond. BBC Radio 3 is the home of The BBC Proms and broadcasts every concert live. It supports composers, writers and new young performers and last year broadcast over 40 new drama productions. See