Ivors composer awards

Ivors Composer Award winners announced

Six of the category winners are 30 and under, highlighting the vibrancy and talent of the UK’s composing scene.

  • 2 Dec 2020
  • min read

Last night (1 December), The Ivors Academy revealed the winners of 14 Ivor Novello Awards as part of The Ivors Composer Awards 2020, celebrating exceptional new works by composers writing for classical, jazz and sound art.

The ceremony was broadcast exclusively on BBC Radio 3, hosted by Kate Molleson and Tom Service.

The awards, supported by PRS for Music, were presented to eleven composers for categories covering classical, jazz and sound art compositions, in addition to three Gift of The Academy Awards. All eleven category winners were commissioned by different venues or organisations, ranging from the Vortex Jazz Club to the BBC Proms.

Jonny Greenwood picked up his seventh award from the Academy for his Large Orchestral Work Horror Vacui which was commissioned by the BBC Proms and premiered by Daniel Pioro, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Proms Youth Ensemble.

Greenwood explains: ‘Horror vacui is the fear of empty space, usually in paintings. For this music, I’ve focused on all the different ways there are to electronically create reverb and echoes and translated them into the complexities of a string orchestra.’

Written to mark the occasion of National Windrush Day, Renell Shaw’s The Vision They Had picked up the award for Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble. Commissioned by the Vortex Jazz Club, Shaw’s work included words and audio recordings from his grandparents who are members of the Windrush Generation.

Renell said: ‘When I was writing The Vision They Had the goal was simple - tell my grandparents’ story authentically and honestly. I didn't want to just talk about Caribbean people who'd come to England. I wanted to talk about the deeper stories. I wanted to talk about love and loss, triumph, adventure and success.’

In addition to the eleven category awards, three composers were awarded Gift of the Academy awards from The Ivors Academy. Cecilia McDowall, who celebrates her 70th birthday in 2021, was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Works Collection, recognising her exceptional body of classical works.

British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed was recognised for her approach to jazz composition with an Ivor Novello Award for Innovation. Yazz brings together the sounds of her mixed heritage through her music, explaining that ‘I hope that through my music I can bring people together, building bridges between cultures, and changing perceptions about women in jazz and people of Muslim heritage.’ The Academy has recognised Ahmed for ‘her unique creative voice that smashes the boundaries between jazz and electronic sound design by drawing on her heritage to create intoxicating musical worlds.’

Genre-defying composer Julian Joseph OBE becomes an Academy Fellow, the Academy’s highest honour, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to music in the UK. Julian is the 21st Academy Fellow, joining a prestigious list which includes Kate Bush CBE, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Academy said: 'We’re delighted to honour Julian for his incredible achievements in music as an educator and as a truly unique and exceptional voice in jazz and classical composition.’

Andrea C. Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, said: ‘Congratulations to all the winners at The Ivors Composer Awards. We are incredibly proud that two of the composers nominated for awards this year have taken part in PRS for Music development workshops, and 26 received funding from our charity partner, PRS Foundation. Now more than ever, it is important to celebrate and support composers and the dedicated teams that help bring their works to life. While the classical, jazz and sound art communities have all faced their own unique challenges in recent months, creativity has not stopped, and we must ensure it continues to thrive. We hope that these accolades help to shine a light on the remarkable work of those honoured.’

See the full list of winners