Posted: 1 July 2009
This year, the Alan Bush Composition Prize held at the Royal Academy of Music, London was well supported and the standard was high. Five scores were submitted.
Richard Causton, the British composer, was the adjudicator. He has received several awards including the Mendelssohn Scholarship, a British Composer Award, and the Third International "Nuove Sincronie" Prize. His work, Phoenix, was the winner of the 2006 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber-Scale Composition, was subsequently recorded and released on the London Sinfonietta label (SINF-CD1 2008). He is currently writing new works for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and cellist Anssi Karttunen.
Richard Bullen won the Prize with a composition called Firewire, which was written for clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano and double bass. Firewire can currently be heard at Richard's website. Richard Causton wrote of the work that "it was highly inventive and full of vividly imagined gesture and colour; its sheer vitality and high-voltage energy marked it out and I am delighted to have been able to award this piece the Alan Bush Composition Prize". Richard Bullen is an SPNM shortlisted composer living and working in London. After receiving a BMus with 1st class honours from the University of Sheffield, he completed a Master's degree at the University of Birmingham. In August 2008 he received a scholarship to study with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on the Advanced Composition course at Dartington International Summer School. Recent works include Bacchae for voices, instruments and sacrificial audience, performed by CoMA, London and Ruins for large chamber ensembles performed in the Duke's Hall, Royal Academy of Music. Future projects include a song cycle for mezzo-soprano Loré Lixemberg and a violin concerto for Aisha Orazbayeva.
Nicholas Martin was Very Highly Commended for his composition called Air, which was written for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin and cello. Richard Causton writes of Air that Nicholas Martin's piece "begins with a single, rapidly flowing melody shared between seven instruments in a kaleidoscopic interplay of colour before dissolving, as the music moves towards its melancholic conclusion." Nicholas is currently a second year undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is studying composition with Simon Bainbridge. Next year he will be studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. An extract from Air can be heard at Nicholas' website.
The other three students who submitted scores were Christopher Lyons, whose composition Splinters was written for C trumpet and piano, Martin Georgiev, whose composition Midnight Prayers was written for flute and piano and Scott Lygate, whose composition Scottish Rhapsody was written for bassoon and piano.
Writing about the Alan Bush Composition Prize, 2009, Richard Causton said that it was "a great pleasure and an honour to be invited to adjudicate the Alan Bush Composition Prize." He added that he "very much enjoyed getting to know the scores and was impressed by the variety of styles and perspectives which they demonstrated. Although each of the entries was highly individual, the common element was that they had all clearly been motivated by a passionate desire to communicate."