British Composer Awards shortlist unveiled

Shortlist unveiled for the 11th Year of the Awards

The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) is delighted to announce the 39 works shortlisted for the 2013 British Composer Awards. The winners in each of the 13 categories will be unveiled at a ceremony at Goldsmiths' Hall on Tuesday 3 December.

Three works have been shortlisted in each of the following categories:

  • Instrumental Solo or Duo
  • Chamber
  • Vocal
  • Choral
  • Wind Band or Brass Band
  • Orchestral
  • Stage Works
  • Liturgical
  • Sonic Art
  • Contemporary Jazz Composition
  • Community or Educational Project
  • Making Music Award
  • International Award

The British Composer Awards have passed their tenth birthday and there is every sign that the next ten years will be as rich and rewarding as the first. BASCA is delighted to continue its successful association with PRS for Music and BBC Radio 3 and deeply committed to serving Britain's composers by providing this annual platform for the celebration of new classical and jazz music.

British Composer Awards Chairman, Sarah Rodgers

The British Composer Awards (BCA) are unique around the world in making contemporary classical and jazz music the focus of their annual celebration. Created by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 2003, the Awards seek to promote the art of composition, to recognise the creative talent of composers who live and work in the UK and to bring contemporary classical and jazz music to a wider audience.

The BCA celebrate the music of today's composers living and working in the United Kingdom and also UK premieres of work by composers from outside the UK. Qualifying works must have been completed within the five years prior to 31 March 2013 and received a public performance - either live or broadcast - in the year leading up to 31 March 2013.

With the exception of the International Award, shortlisted composers must be born in the UK or resident for at least 5 years. Each category is judged by a different jury, with members appointed by BASCA and more than 70 music professionals are involved, the majority of whom are composers working in collaboration with performers, conductors, promoters and festival directors.

This year over 300 works were submitted by over 200 composers and, no doubt reflecting the diversity of modern British composition, the shortlist of 39 is the work of 38 different composers, with only Gabriel Jackson shortlisted in more than one category. Jackson's works have appeared on many previous shortlists and he won the Choral category in 2009 (for The Spacious Firmament) and 2012 (for Airplane Cantata). His A Choral Symphony (Choral) is a celebration of London and explores all sides of this city, from the Grandiose architecture, the bustling life of Fleet Street, to the darker aspects of today's poorer neighbourhoods.

Three works in the shortlist were written for the Cultural Olympiad: Stephen McNeff's The Chalk Legend (Making Music), a large scale multi-media event inspired by the discovery of a Viking grave in Weymouth; James Redwood's Pass The Torch, An Olympic Symphony (Community or Educational Project), a work for 3 Youth Orchestras, Orchestra, Rock Band, Saz Ensemble, Steel Band and massed primary school choirs, and Oliver Searle's Technophonia (Community or Educational Project). Searle’s work uses three new cuttingedge technologies (the Brainfingers system, Soundbeam and Skoog) that enabled disabled musicians to perform music on an equal footing with their peers.


The nominees for this year’s British Composer Awards truly showcase the magnificent contemporary classical and jazz talent we have in the UK. As British compositions continue to play a crucial role in underpinning and influencing the creative industries I’m proud that PRS for Music will again sponsor these prestigious awards, recognising exceptional talent.

Guy Fletcher, Chair of PRS for Music

This year’s shortlist spans a wide age range from those in their twenties to those in their seventies. Some of the younger composers include Benjamin Wallfisch, Edward Nesbit, Joseph Phibbs and Raymond Yiu. Yiu's work in the Orchestral category, The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured, is his first major orchestral composition.

Sadly, two nominated composers works were submitted posthumously: Jonathan Harvey and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Jonathan's Harvey's Cirrus Light (Instrumental Solo or Duo) was one of his last compositions. He wrote the work from a wheelchair while suffering from Motor Neurone disease, inspired by the changing colours of cirrus clouds in a summer sky.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first time Sir Richard Rodney Bennett has been nominated. His Colloquy with God (Choral) is the last work he composed, and is quite different compared to his other choral works. It is a poignant setting of a very moving poem by Sir Thomas Browne for four male voices and was dedicated to the vocal chamber ensemble 'New York Polyphony'.

Other new names to the shortlist include David Bruce, nominated in the Stage Works category for his chamber opera The Firework-Maker's Daughter based on a book by Phillip Pullman, and Benjamin Wallfisch, nominated in the Chamber category for Chopin's Waterloo, a work inspired by the artworks of French-American painter and sculptor Arman.

The categories that have the greatest number of new nominees are Contemporary Jazz, Wind/Brass Band and Sonic Art. In Sonic Art, all three shortlisted works are from first-time nominees including Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver with No Such Object (Speed of Light), a mass-participatory public artwork combining movement, light, sound and landscape. New nominees in Contemporary Jazz are Trish Clowes, Radio 3’s New Generation Jazz Artist 2012-14, and the first woman to be given the role, and Tim Garland with his Songs to the North Sky, a work inspired by the big skylines of the North East.

Some of the composers share the shortlist with their own teachers this year: Edward Nesbit, one of the youngest composers on the list, is nominated for A Pretence of Wit (Vocal), while his teacher George Benjamin’s Written on Skin is on the list in the Stage Works category. And Richard Bullen and his teacher David Sawer are nominated in the Community or Educational Project and Vocal categories respectively.


As the home of classical music and the most significant commissioner of new music, BBC Radio 3 is once again delighted to be working with BASCA to support new talent and new work. We’ll be broadcasting these important awards to our millions of listeners in the UK and worldwide in a time that I believe is a golden age of composition. It’s heartening to see such a broad range of talent covered by these awards this year and I wish all of those on the shortlist the best of luck on December 3rd.

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 & Director, BBC Proms

The 11th British Composer Awards will take place on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at Goldsmiths' Hall, London. The event will include a performance of the winning work in the 2013 Student Competition.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. In association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage of the Awards on Saturday 7 December.

Thursday 24 October - BBC Radio 3, In Tune, 4.30pm - shortlist announcement

25-29 November - BBC Radio 3, Live in Concert Series - preview of BCA shortlisted works

Tuesday 3 December - British Composer Awards, Goldsmiths Hall, 5.30pm Saturday 7 December - BBC Radio 3, Hear and Now, 10.45pm

For further information please contact:
Jo Carpenter, Music PR Consultancy 
Tel: 07771 538868

2013 British Composer Awards Shortlist

Instrumental Solo or Duo

Cirrus Light by Jonathan Harvey

Darkness Visible by George Nicholson

Gigue Machine by Harrison Birtwistle


Chopin’s Waterloo by Benjamin Wallfisch

Fletch by Rebecca Saunders

String Quartet No. 4 by Colin Matthews


A Pretence of Wit by Edward Nesbit

Electra Mourns by Brian Elias

Flesh and Blood by David Sawer


A Choral Symphony by Gabriel Jackson

Colloquy with God by Richard Rodney Bennett

Since it was the Day of Preparation… by James MacMillan

Wind Band or Brass Band

Diversions after Benjamin Britten: Four Centenary Tributes for Brass Band by Simon Dobson, Gavin Higgins, Paul McGhee, Lucy Pankhurst

Mysteries of the Horizon by Nigel Clarke

Symphony in two movements by Edward Gregson


Rivers to the Sea by Joseph Phibbs

Tenebrae by John Pickard

The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured by Raymond Yiu

Stage Works

Imago by Orlando Gough

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by David Bruce

Written on Skin by George Benjamin


Cantate Domino by Gabriel Jackson

I saw the Lord by Matthew Martin

O Oriens by Cecilia McDowall

Sonic Art

5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun by Caroline Devine

Dart for Solo Cello, Delays and Digital playback by Tom Williams

No Such Object (Speed of Light) by Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver

Contemporary Jazz Composition

Iris Nonet by Trish Clowes

Lifelines by John Surman

Songs to the North Sky by Tim Garland

Community or Educational Project

Elemental Songs and Dances by Richard Bullen

Pass the Torch, An Olympic Symphony by James Redwood

Technophonia by Oliver Searle

Making Music Award

Dry Stone Walls of Yorkshire by Peter McGarr

Screech by Kerry Andrew

The Chalk Legend by Stephen McNeff

International Award

Symphony Number 8 by Per Nørgård

The Importance of Being Earnest by Gerald Barry

Woven Dreams by Toshio Hosokawa


BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, is the professional association for music writers in the UK. It is the single voice for British music creators.

BASCA works to foster a sense of community amongst songwriters, lyricists and composers, and to campaign on their behalf in the domestic, European and international political arenas. As the only association in the country made up entirely of music writers, the organisation has 5 an unparalleled insight into the issues affecting music creators in the UK today. We work closely with our members, keeping them informed in a constantly changing environment via our publications, websites, seminars and professional networking events.

BASCA also presents the Ivor Novello Awards, British Composer Awards and Gold Badge Awards annually.

Membership of BASCA is open to working songwriters and composers who are members of a royalty collection society, such as PRS for Music, BMI or ASCAP.

BASCA Fellows: John Adams, David Arnold, Malcolm Arnold, John Barry, Don Black, Pierre Boulez, John Dankworth, David Ferguson, George Fenton, Elton John, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paul McCartney, Peter Maxwell Davies and Tim Rice.

About BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 is the home of classical music. The station also broadcasts a wide range of cultural programming including jazz, world music, arts and over 25 new drama programmes a year. BBC Radio 3 features more live classical music programming than any other and is the home of the BBC Proms, broadcasting every Prom live and over 600 complete concerts a year. The station is also the most significant commissioner of new musical works in the country and is committed to supporting new talent, composers, writers and new young performers through schemes such as New Generation Artists and New Generation Thinkers.

About PRS for Music

Here for music since 1914, PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 175,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers. Redefining the global standard for music royalties, PRS for Music ensures songwriters and composers are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. 

For 110 years it has grown and protected the rights of the music creator community, paying out royalties with more accuracy, transparency and speed. In 2023, PRS for Music paid out £943.6m in royalties and collected a record £1.08 billion in revenues.

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