The Ivors Academy reveal 53 works nominated across 11 categories for The Ivors Composer Awards 2020


THE IVORS Academy have announced the nominations for The Ivors Composer Awards 2020, celebrating the best new works by composers writing for classical, jazz and sound art.

The works nominated for this year’s Composer Awards perfectly illustrate how contemporary classical, jazz and sound arts respond to the world around us

Gary Carpenter, Chair of The Ivors Academy’s Awards Committee

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, the fight for universal suffrage, the homophobic rhetoric of the DUP in Northern Ireland, the Windrush Generation, Brexit, bird conservation and nuclear proliferation.

Now in their 18th year, The Ivors Composer Awards (formerly British Composer Awards) have nominated 53 works across eleven categories with over 50 per cent 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 1st April 2019 and 31st 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.

The piece ‘The Vision They Had’ was premiered on 21 November 2019 at the Vortex Jazz Club as part of the London Jazz Festival.

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.

To mark the occasion of National Windrush Day, composer and arranger Renell Shaw was asked by the Vortex Jazz Club to write a new body of work.

“The Vision They Had” is the first of four Jazz suite pieces inspired by the men, women, and children, who latterly became known as the ‘Windrush Generation’.

The music pays homage to the complex origins of the people: Their lives ‘away’, their longings, loves, disappointments, and will to survive.

The rich diasporic musical traditions of the Caribbean finds a contemporary expression in the work, as well as a new home in a new melting pot of bubbling creativity.

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.

Gary Carpenter, Chair of The Ivors Academy’s Awards Committee, said: “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.”

Andrea C. Martin, CEO of PRS for Music, said: “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.”

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3 and classical music said: “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.”

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

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