British Composer Awards 2018 nominees revealed

From world’s first ‘recovery’ orchestra to opera reviving work by forgotten female composers, nominees bring marginalised voices to the fore

British Composer Awards logo

The best new works by Britain’s contemporary composers have been announced today, with thirty-seven composers nominated for the 2018 British Composer Awards across 12 categories including orchestral, jazz, sonic art, chamber ensemble, stage works and wind or brass band.

Highlighting the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary composition in the UK today, the 2018 British Composer Awards nominees include: numerous works demonstrating the ways in which today’s composers give a voice to marginalised groups in society; compositions inspired by poetry and other artforms such as visual art and literature; and works that breathe new life and meaning into history.

Nominees giving a voice to disenfranchised groups in society include: a work by the world’s only ‘recovery’ orchestra (Conall Gleeson), composed and performed by an orchestra in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; an opera reviving forgotten music by history’s overlooked female composers (Tom Green); and music composed for disabled performers (Oliver Searle; Liam Taylor-West).

Compositions taking inspiration from poetry and other artforms include: a piece drawing on world music and Indian poetry to build musical bridges between cultures (Roxanna Panufnik); a reimagining of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to apply to refugees in the world today, first performed by children who are refugees themselves (Dee Isaacs); and a brass band composition based on coal mining strikes and inspired by poet Mervyn Peake (Gavin Higgins).

Nominated composers reinterpreting and breathing new life into history include: a brass band piece inspired by the life of Alan Turing (Simon Dobson); an orchestral work exploring the notion of ‘Deep Time’ through music (Harrison Birtwistle); a sonic art installation celebrating the rediscovery of a forgotten Baptist Burial Ground (Emily Peasgood); and a full-length string concert inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953 (Oliver Coates).

A record-breaking year for entries, 2018 saw over 560 submissions, demonstrating the volume of quality new music being composed and debuted in the UK. This year all categories have been judged anonymously for the first time, and a second jazz category has been added. In 2018 51 per cent of the composer are aged under 40, and are first-time nominees. 

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.


In this record-breaking year for entries, BASCA is delighted to celebrate the breadth of works for the British Composer Awards, representing a wealth of UK talent. As ever it’s hugely exciting and inspiring to see the fresh passion represented by our first-time nominees. Congratulations to everyone nominated today.

Crispin Hunt, Chair at BASCA

I am delighted for PRS for Music to once again be supporting the British Composer Awards, with its impeccable record of recognising the best contemporary classical works. It is inspiring to see that over half of this year’s nominated composers are aged under 40 and first-time nominees, showing that the UK classical music landscape is truly continuing to flourish. Congratulations to you all and I look forward to celebrating with you at the ceremony in December.

Nigel Elderton, PRS for Music Chairman

Broadcasting the outstanding work of composers from across the UK - throughout our schedule - is an intrinsic part of our role to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture. We look forward to sharing highlights of this year’s awards and some of these marvellous new compositions on the station.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Presented by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the ceremony will include a performance in memory of nominated composer, Oliver Knussen and the presentation of two Gift of BASCA awards – the British Composer Award for Innovation and the British Composer Award for Inspiration, presented in association with the Music Publishers Association.

British Composer Awards 2018 Nominees:

Amateur or Young Performers
Works for voluntary, amateur or youth choirs and ensembles 
Fiery Tales by Richard Bullen 
Microscopic Dances by Oliver Searle 
The Caretaker's Guide to the Orchestra by Jeremy Holland-Smith 

Chamber Ensemble
Six or more instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part 
Libro di fiammelle e ombre by James Weeks 
O Hototogisu! by Oliver Knussen 
Tanz/haus : triptych 2017 by James Dillon 

A cappella or accompanied, except works for choir and orchestra 
In the Land of Uz by Judith Weir 
Mielo by Raymond Yiu 
Unending Love by Roxanna Panufnik 

Community or Educational Project 
Works demonstrating a composer’s work in community engagement alongside compositional craft 
Solace by Conall Gleeson
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- a retelling for our times by Dee Isaacs
The Umbrella by Liam Taylor-West
Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble 
Nine or more instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element 
Afronaut by Cassie Kinoshi 
Rituals by Matt London 
Time by Finlay Panter 

Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Up to eight instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
Close to Ecstasy by Simon Lasky 
Vegetarians by Ivo Neame 
You've Got to Play the Game by Johnny Richards 

Deep Time by Harrison Birtwistle 
Recorder Concerto by Graham Fitkin 
The Imaginary Museum by Julian Anderson 
Small Chamber 
Three to five instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part 
Chant by Charlotte Bray 
Lines Between by Robert Laidlow 
Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders 
Solo or Duo
Instrumental or vocal music performed by one or two players or voices 
A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women by Laura Bowler 
Belmont Chill by William Marsey 
The Harmonic Canon by Dominic Murcott 
Sonic Art 
Sound art installations, electronic music and works with live electronics 
Halfway to Heaven by Emily Peasgood 
The Otheroom by Rolf Wallin 
Two Machines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Hugh Jones as ‘Crewdson & Cevanne’ 

Stage Works 
Works specifically written for the stage, including opera, dance and musical theatre 
Shorelines by Oliver Coates 
The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès 
The World's Wife by Tom Green 
Wind Band or Brass Band 
Dark Arteries Suite by Gavin Higgins 
Mindscapes by Lucy Pankhurst 
The Turing Test by Simon Dobson

Works eligible for the 2018 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Works are also composed by a composer born in the UK or ordinarily resident in the UK.

For more information on this year’s British Composer Awards visit or follow @ComposerAwards.


The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) exists to celebrate, support and protect the professional interests of all writers of music. We are the voice for music writers; the independent professional association representing music writers in all genres, from songwriting, through to media, contemporary classical and jazz and can trace our history back over 70 years.

Whilst we are well known for putting on the British Composer Awards, the Gold Badge Awards and The Ivors every year, there is far more to us than these events. BASCA campaigns in the UK, Europe and throughout the world in order to protect the professional interests of our members. We count on the best songwriting and composing talent in order to do this important work and are entirely self-funding, relying on the continuing support of our members, who include The 1975, David Arnold, Gary Barlow, Harrison Birtwistle, Kate Bush, Coldplay, Howard Goodall, Calvin Harris, Imogen Heap, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, John Powell, Dizzee Rascal and many more. 

About BBC Radio 3

Since it launched in 1946, the Third Programme/ BBC Radio 3 has been a bold pioneer in the cultural world. It is one of the world’s foremost presenters, creators, commissioners and curators across classical, folk, world, jazz and contemporary music as well as drama, philosophy and ideas. The station is also the most significant commissioner of new and contemporary music in the UK, with 35 new works commissioned annually and broadcasts over 600 concerts a year, including live broadcasts from the greatest classical music festival in the world (BBC Proms). Radio 3’s In Concert programme alone reaches the equivalent of 250 packed concert halls a week, and the BBC Performing Groups give around 400 concerts a year in over 60 UK locations. The station has always nurtured extraordinary artistic talents, provided a platform for important scientific and political debates/announcements, and broadcast ground-breaking experimental drama – always while delivering its core aim of connecting audiences with pioneering music and culture.

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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