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NCEM Young Composers Award 2019 with Liam Byrne

The performance of the 2019 winning pieces was broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Early Music Show - listen again here .    

Joint winners (19-25 years) Dream Fever by Sarah Cattley and Walls of Brass by Derri Joseph Lewis were premiered by virtuoso viol player Liam Byrne in a concert at Glitch in Bristol (photo credits Paul Blakemore (c)). 

2019 NCEM Young Composers Award
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  • Sarah Cattley

    Sarah Cattley

  • BBC Radio 3 presenter Hannah French

    BBC Radio 3 presenter Hannah French

  • Having fun with the venue!

    Having fun with the venue!

  • BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt

    BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt

  • NCEM Young Composers Award 2019 - Glitch Bristol

    NCEM Young Composers Award 2019 - Glitch Bristol

  • Hannah French interviews Derri Joseph Lewis

    Hannah French interviews Derri Joseph Lewis

  • Liam Byrne

    Liam Byrne

  • Sarah Cattley and Derri Joseph Lewis

    Sarah Cattley and Derri Joseph Lewis

  • NCEM Young Composers Award 2019 - Glitch Bristol

    NCEM Young Composers Award 2019 - Glitch Bristol


The award was judged in May when the shortlisted composers were invited to the NCEM for two days of workshops and rehearsals with Liam Byrne, led by composer Christopher Fox, which culminated in a public concert of their pieces. The judges were Les Pratt, Producer, BBC Radio 3; Delma Tomlin, Director of the NCEM; and Liam Byrne.

Watch the performance of the shortlisted pieces below:

The shortlisted pieces were:
19 to 25 years
Sarah Cattley Dream Fever (joint winner)
Liam Connery Piangere, Affogare
Zakia Fawcett You were a great comfort to me
Matthew Fox Fantasy
Sam Gooderham Sonnerie 1982
Derri Joseph Lewis Walls of Brass (joint winner)
Caitlin Nolan Canonic duet for solo bass viol

18 years and under
Stephen Jesse Rees Fantasy Nocturnal (Highly Commended)

These recordings of the NCEM performances were made courtesy of music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York - Jacob Cooper, Tom Ewing, Luke Harte and Will Pitchfork. 

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. For the 2019 Award, composers were 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. It's also a type of piece where anything can happen, and for this year's award we wanted to encourage composers to think about augmenting the sound of the viol through the use of electronics. We also considered compositions for solo viol that do not involve electronics.

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

What composers 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

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.