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NCEM Young Composers Award 2019

Liam Byrne
Launched on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show the 2019 NCEM Young Composers Award is presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and virtuoso viol player Liam Byrne.

This major national annual award is open to young composers up to the age of 25 and resident in the UK, in two age categories: 18 years and under; and 19 to 25 years. The winning works will be premiered by Liam Byrne in a public performance which will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show.

Composers are invited to create a Fantasy, for solo viol or for viol and electronics. The Fantasy is a form that has flourished since the Renaissance and is characterised by the elaborate spinning out of a musical idea; it is music that's all about invention. The Fantasy is also a type of piece where anything can happen and for this year's award we want to encourage composers to think about augmenting the sound of the viol through the use of electronics. We will also consider compositions for solo viol that do not involve electronics. Please read the Terms and Conditions for the full brief and details of how to apply, along with Liam Byrne's Notes on writing for viol and for electronics, downloadable below.

2019 Award schedule
Closing date for registration Friday 15 February, 11.59pm
Deadline for submission of scores Friday 15 March, 5.00pm
Successful shortlist informed Friday 5 April
Workshops and Award Day in York Wednesday 8 & Thursday 9 May

Applicants must register their interest in the award by 11.59pm on Friday 15 February by emailing the National Centre for Early Music at and stating which age group they wish to enter. Completed scores must be received no later than 5.00pm on Friday 15 March. The Award will be judged in York on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 May.

Composers whose works are shortlisted will be invited to the National Centre for Early Music in York on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 May, when their compositions will be presented by Liam Byrne in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox. At 6.30pm on Thursday 9 May, Liam Byrne will perform each of the pieces in the presence of a panel of judges, after which two winners will be announced, one for each of the two age groups.

The Terms and Conditions and Application Forms, along with Liam Byrne's Notes on writing for the viol and for electronics and some recommended recordings, can be downloaded below.

Email for information, or if you would like to be added to the NCEM Young Composers Award mailing list for the 2019 and future awards.

For details of the 2018 NCEM Young Composers Award and to listen to the shortlisted pieces click here

What finalists have said about previous Award Day workshops:
"I was delighted to have my composition treated as 'real music' rather than 'student experiments'. Really refreshing, encouraging and exciting!"
"I found having my work scrutinised in a practical setting both refreshing and enlightening"
"I learned how to make a piece that expresses my individuality while also catering to the needs and requirements of singers"
"Christopher Fox was gentle, kind and on-the-ball with all aspects that worked, and those that could be tweaked.... Excellent insights!"
"Composers are a special little community... it was fascinating meeting others... and I have no doubt some of us will be friends for life now!"

For further information see:

Downloads below

Terms and Conditions

Notes on writing for the viol and for electronics

Application form 18 and under

Application form 19 to 25 years

The 2019 NCEM Young Composers Award is supported by the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust and The Radcliffe Trust.

Mayfield Valley Arts TrustThe Radcliffe Trust

The annual NCEM Young Composers Award was launched in 2008 and is the only such scheme in the UK. It offers a unique opportunity for young composers to engage with the instruments and performance styles of early music, and to work with a leading professional early music ensemble. In bridging the worlds of 'early' and 'new' music, the Award complements the NCEM's education policy, to support and nurture young composers and demonstrates to all participants that the music of previous centuries is relevant to today's creative endeavours.