Three Faber Music composers celebrated success at last night’s British Composer awards.
Thomas Adès’ quartet The Four Quarters took the chamber prize, his second BASCA award. The work – commissioned by the Carnegie Hall and premiered there by the Emerson Quartet in 2011 – charts the arc of a single day across four movements: Nightfalls, Serenade: Morning Dew, Days & The Twenty-fifth Hour. The judges were unanimous in their decision and their citation is unequivocal: “For the sheer elegance and poise of the composition, the eloquence and certainty of its expression and the real sense of chamber music at its heart.”
In the vocal category Colin Matthews’ haunting evocation of World War I, No Man’s Land, took the top prize. Scored for tenor, baritone and chamber orchestra, and using a text by Christopher Reid, the piece conjures the ghosts of two of two soldiers hanging on barbed wire. At its BBC Proms premiere in 2011, with Ian Bostridge, Roderick Williams and the City of London Sinfonia, the work was heralded as ‘strikingly atmospheric’, filled with ‘deeply affecting compassion’ and yet ‘darkly humorous.’ The BASCA judges agreed and found the winning work tackled its subject with “sensitivity, inventiveness and originality, employing a fascinatingly wide range of colours and techniques to convey a powerful and moving message.”
Finally, Simon Dobson took the award in the Brass & Wind Band category for his virtuoso brass band score A Symphony of Colours, which will be published by Faber Music in December 2012. It was inspired by the condition of synesthesia, where the response to music is to see colours, and derives some of its musical ideas and processes from the music of French composer Olivier Messiaen, who, like Dobson himself, experienced this reaction to music.The judges commended the work for its “virtuosity, imaginative scoring and impressive sense of structure”, remarking that “this is clearly a composer with something to say." Dobson, who has been nominated for a BASCA award twice before, is the only the second recipient of a British Composer Award for a brass band work in the 10 year history of the award.
The ceremony will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 9th December.