The Ivors Academy reveal works nominated for The Ivors Composer Awards 2020

Many nominated works tackle the turbulence of our times as composers address issues around climate change, Brexit, the Windrush Generation, universal suffrage, bird conservation, nuclear proliferation, and homophobia in Northern Ireland.

The Ivors Composer Awards logo

The Ivors Academy today announce the nominations for The Ivors Composer Awards 2020, celebrating the best new works by composers writing for classical, jazz and sound art. The winners of these prestigious Ivor Novello Awards will be revealed on 1 December as part of a two-hour ceremony broadcast exclusively on BBC Radio 3.

This year’s nominated works demonstrate the wide diversity of settings, styles and themes of contemporary music being composed in the UK. The theme of protest is seen throughout a number of this year’s nominated works, exploring topics such as climate change (Rachel Portman’s Earth Song set to words by Greta Thunberg), the fight for universal suffrage (Emily Howard’s The Anvil), the homophobic rhetoric of the DUP in Northern Ireland (Conor Mitchell’s Abomination, a DUP opera), the Windrush Generation (Renell Shaw’s The Vision They Had), Brexit (Alex Hitchcock’s Calvados), bird conservation (Kathy Hinde’s Twittering Machines) and nuclear proliferation (Caroline Devine’s On Common Ground).

Now in their 18th year, The Ivors Composer Awards (formerly British Composer Awards) have nominated 53 works across eleven categories with over 50% by first-time nominees. Each category includes a broad range of talent representing both established and emerging composers of all ages. This year’s nominations include composers such as Sally Beamish, Harrison Birtwistle, Anne Dudley, Jonny Greenwood, Rachel Portman, Gabriel Prokofiev, Judith Weir and Ryan Wigglesworth.

Peer recognition is at the centre of this unique annual celebration. Each of the eleven categories had a separate judging panel of composers and music practitioners who anonymously reviewed all works entered for consideration. The identity (name, gender, age, demographic) of the work’s composer was removed from all materials given to the jury. All of the nominated works received a UK premiere between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 and were composed by a UK born or ordinarily resident composer.

The list of nominated works also highlight the importance and breadth of commissioning in new music. Seven of the nominated works were commissioned or co-commissioned by the BBC, and four works are associated with the PRS Foundation New Music Biennial 2019. Other commissioners include leading UK performers from Britten Sinfonia, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, LSO, Nash Ensemble, London Sinfonietta and The Belfast Ensemble to Birmingham Royal Ballet, Music Theatre Wales, Choir of St John’s College Cambridge and venues such as Wigmore Hall.

In addition to the eleven categories, three Gift of the Academy Awards will be presented as part of the BBC Radio 3 broadcast on 1 December. These will include an Academy Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by The Ivors Academy, the Innovation Award and the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Works Collection.

The Ivors Composer Awards are sponsored by PRS for Music. The awards presentation is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.


The works nominated for this year's Composer Awards perfectly illustrate how contemporary classical, jazz and sound arts respond to the world around us and shape our understanding of the contradictions, uncertainties and hopes that create the fabric of our lives. On behalf of music creators and The Ivors Academy I would like to congratulate all nominees on their achievement. As our world feels increasingly uncertain, we must treasure what makes life so wonderful – music, inspiration and escape.

Gary Carpenter, Chair, The Ivors Academy Awards Committee



We are proud to continue our support of The Ivors Composer Awards. Without question, this year has been incredibly difficult for our industry. While the classical community has faced its own unique challenges in recent months, the vitality of your compositions has remained a constant in our lives. Retaining their ability to truly inspire, move and affect emotion. Congratulations to all the nominees, especially those nominated for the first time, and we look forward to honouring the winners in December.

Andrea C. Martin, CEO, PRS for Music


One of our main commitments here at BBC Radio 3 is to put a spotlight on contemporary composers, supporting their work and giving audiences the chance to discover it. This is true in normal times, but it is much more relevant at the moment – while the careers of so many performers and composers are challenged due to the pandemic. We are therefore delighted to host The Ivors Composer Awards as a broadcast only ceremony on our airwaves, broadcasting all this amazing new music, and showcasing the brightest and most creative musical minds on our vital contemporary UK music scene.

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and classical music


Winners of Ivor Novello Awards at The Ivors Composer Awards will be announced on Tuesday 1 December from 7.30pm on BBC Radio 3 during an exclusive live broadcast hosted by Kate Molleson and Tom Service.

The Ivors Composer Awards 2020 nominations:

* first time nominee


  • GRIN by ROBIN HAIGH for chamber orchestra
  • HOVER by SALLY BEAMISH for two oboe, two horns and strings
  • PIANO CONCERTO by RYAN WIGGLESWORTH for piano and chamber orchestra
  • PROMETHEUS SYMPHONY by STUART MACRAE for soprano, bass-baritone and chamber orchestra
  • UNE SAISON EN ENFER by JOSEPHINE STEPHENSON* for tenor and string orchestra


  • I SING OF LOVE by BERNARD HUGHES for SATB choir (with divisi)
  • PIETÀ by RICHARD BLACKFORD* for mezzo soprano, baritone, SATB chorus, optional children’s chorus and string orchestra
  • PIOUS ANTHEMS AND VOLUNTARIES by MICHAEL FINNISSY for soloists, organ, flute, violin and choir


  • I AM ALBAN by ANNE DUDLEY for mixed choir, soloists, narrator and orchestra, with libretto by Ian McMillan
  • MORE UP by OLIVER VIBRANS* for chamber orchestra and electronics
  • THE BIG PICTURE by JUDITH WEIR for two choirs (unison/SATB) and instrumental ensemble
  • TUQUS by BUSHRA EL-TURK* for multi ability symphony orchestra
  • WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN IDEA? by PAUL RISSMANN for orchestra, choir, narrator and dancer, with libretto by Kobi Yamada


  • A TALL TALE by TOM HAINES* for jazz orchestra
  • CREPUSCULE by CHARLIE BATES* for jazz orchestra
  • PRESENT by JONNY MANSFIELD for jazz orchestra, choir and soloist, with libretto by Ella Hohnen-Ford
  • WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING by JELLY CLEAVER* for ensemble and vocals


  • CALVADOS by ALEX HITCHCOCK* for saxophones, double bass, drums and synthesizers
  • ELEMENTAL UTTERANCES by MATT LONDON for alto flute, tenor saxophone, violin, double bass, drums and voice
  • NEW EARS SUITE by CALUM GOURLAY* for tenor saxophone, tenor trombone, double bass and drums
  • THE VISION THEY HAD by RENELL SHAW* for seven-piece band
  • WEIRD WEATHER by MARK LOCKHEART for saxophones, keyboards, bass violin and drums


  • GLEANN CIÙIN by CLAIRE M SINGER* for organ, violin, viola, four cello and two horns
  • HONEY SIREN by OLIVER LEITH for string ensemble
  • NO 50. (THE GARDEN) by RICHARD AYRES* for amplified ensemble, bass voice and soundtrack
  • SCAR by REBECCA SAUNDERS for 15 soloists and conductor
  • THE CENTRE IS EVERYWHERE by EDMUND FINNIS* for 12 string players


  • CLARINET CONCERTO by MARK SIMPSON* for clarinet and orchestra
  • HAWAII HAWAII HAWAII by JOE CUTLER for saxophone and orchestra
  • HORROR VACUI by JONNY GREENWOOD for solo violin and 68 solo strings
  • NIGHT MUSIC by JASPER DOMMETT* for orchestra
  • THE ANVIL by EMILY HOWARD for soprano, bass baritone, chamber choir, youth choir, chorus and orchestra, with libretto by Michael Symmons Roberts


  • AROHA by ROBERT LAIDLOW for string quartet
  • IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME by ELENA LANGER* for soprano, baritone and piano, with libretto by Glyn Maxwell
  • KRAKEN CELLO CONCERTANTE by AMIR KONJANI* for Kraken cello, trumpet, violin and Kraken piano
  • ...SHADOWS THAT IN DARKNESS DWELL... by TIMOTHY COOPER* for counter tenor, recorder, theorbo, baroque cello and electronics
  • SIX MOVEMENTS by DANIEL FARDON* for string quartet


  • A LINE ALONGSIDE ITSELF by NEWTON ARMSTRONG* for solo cello with four pre-recorded cellos and electronic sounds
  • CLOUD ENGINE by THOMAS GIBBS* for solo tuba with live electronics
  • DIARIES OF THE EARLY WORM by GARETH MOORCRAFT for solo alto recorder
  • KINDLY, SOFTLY by GEORGIA DENHAM* for violin and piano


  • INTACT by SOPHIE COOPER* vocal and trombone recordings edited and manipulated for the Huddersfield Immersive Sound System
  • ON COMMON GROUND by CAROLINE DEVINE abstract vocal fragments, synthesizers and electronic instruments, field recordings and voices
  • REQUIEM FOR THE 21st CENTURY by KHYAM ALLAMI* oud, 16-piece string section and SATB chorus
  • THE SCULPTOR SPEAKS by OLIVIA LOUVEL* electroacoustic resounding of a 1961 recording of Barbara Hepworth’s voice
  • TWITTERING MACHINES by KATHY HINDE bespoke vinyl, objects, live electronics, field recordings and video projections


  • ABOMINATION: A DUP OPERA by CONOR MITCHELL* opera: for chamber orchestra, six soloists and SATB chorus
  • DENIS & KATYA by PHILIP VENABLES opera: for mezzo soprano, baritone, four amplified cellos, tape and video, with libretto by Ted Huffman
  • SENSE OF TIME by GABRIEL PROKOFIEV ballet: for symphony orchestra and electronics

About The Ivors Academy 

The Ivors Academy is the UK’s independent professional association for music creators. We represent and champion a diverse, talented community of songwriters and composers. We are a self-funded not-for-profit organisation, relying on the continued support of our members and partners to carry on our work. The Academy is known internationally for The Ivors and The Ivors Composer Awards. An Ivor Novello Award is the pinnacle in the career of many songwriters and composers.

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.

About BBC Radio 3

We believe arts and music make the world a better place by bringing people together through shared experience and understanding, providing a place of inspiration, and a means to navigate a complex world.

At BBC Radio 3 we want to enable as many people as possible to have life changing musical and arts experiences. We aim to provide listeners with time out from a busy world through full-length artistic performances and slow radio that takes the time it takes. We pride ourselves on being a commissioner and interpreter of complex culture; shining a new light on well-loved artistic works and investing in new artistic talent to bring cutting edge work to audiences everywhere.

We are one of the most significant commissioners of contemporary classical music anywhere in the world and the biggest broadcaster of live classical concerts including the BBC Proms. From classical music to arts discussion, documentaries to essays, drama to sound art, video games and film music, to jazz, world, ambient, electronic and the avant-garde, there is a Radio 3 for everybody – we welcome you to join us on BBC Sounds, DAB, online, and on FM.

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