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Benjamin Rowarth

Benjamin Rowarth (born 1992) began his musical life as a chorister at Hexham Abbey, where he later went on to sing bass and became organ scholar in 2009. Currently a second-year music student at Durham University, he sings with a number of choirs both in and outside Durham. He took up the post of Interim Director of Music in University College in 2011, and is currently the assistant director of Durham Polyphony and the director of Renaissance, a small choir that he founded in 2011. As a composer, he specialises in choral music and has premiered many of his recent works with Renaissance this year. He has twice been commissioned to compose music for theatre, and his soundtracks to Dr Faustus and The Bacchae were both performed in Durham in 2011. After winning the prize for the best documentary soundtrack at Leeds 24-hour Film Festival last year, he is currently working on two commissions for two short films under the direction of David Anthony-Thomas, one of which will be premiered at the Cannes and Paris Film Festivals later in 2012.
Winning piece: Where is thy God? 
"The inspiration for this piece came from two motivic elements of the 'In Nomine' theme. The first is the melodic rising third falling back to the original note via the major second and this can be seen most obviously in the alto part at the beginning of the piece and indeed with almost every return of the verse sections. I chose to accompany this with a soprano line above, which gave the motive a new dimension and allowed the theme to develop into a number of different eventualities that reflect the differing mood of the words from verse to verse. The second motive used is the fall from the sixth note to the fifth note of the chord that I use harmonically in my refrain, creating a suspension or appoggiatura from the sixth to the fifth note of the chord. This motive in particular is expressive enough to reflect the anguish, the pleading and the questioning in the words 'Where is thy God?'"

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
While they say daily unto me:
Where is thy God?
(Verses 1-3 of Psalm 42)