Competitions 2012

Competitions 2012: (UK) The Tallis Scholars Premier Winning Compositions From the NCEM Composers Award 2012 (18 may 2012) (RE-POSTED)

Contributed by Admin on May 21, 2012

Winners of the NCEM 2012 Composers Award

The NCEM  Composers Award 2012, presented in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and The Tallis Scholars, has been won by Alex Woolf (16) in the under 18 years category and by Benjamin Rowarth (20) in the 19 to 25 years category.

Lux Aeterna by Alex Woolf and Where is Thy God? by Benjamin Rowarth will be premièred by The Tallis Scholars in Durham Cathedral as part of its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations on Saturday 2 June 2012. This concert will be broadcast on BBC       Radio 3’s Early Music Show on Sunday 1 July 2012.


Young composers, resident in the UK, were invited to write a new piece of between three to four minutes’ duration specifically with The Tallis Scholars in mind, taking as their starting point the In Nomine theme from John Taverner's Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas. Seven finalists were selected and invited to the National Centre for Early Music in York on Thursday 17 May, when their entries were work-shopped by The Ebor Singers and Christopher Fox, Composer and Professor in Music, Brunel University, London.

At 7.30pm on the same day, The Ebor Singers, directed by Paul Gameson, performed each of the pieces at a public concert. The concert was given in front of a panel of judges comprising Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer, BBC Radio 3; Peter Phillips, Director of The Tallis Scholars and Delma Tomlin, Director of the National Centre for Early Music. 

Delma Tomlin said: “We have been absolutely thrilled, with not only the standard of entries, but the range and diversity of ideas around the given theme. It has been truly inspiring to see our youngest entrant so far, 12 year old Aidan Tulloch, compete on the same platform as composers twice his age and to witness the obvious enthusiasm amongst all finalists to work together to learn and enjoy their time at the NCEM. The winners’ pieces will sound spectacular in Durham Cathedral and have very obviously been written for The Tallis Scholars’ unique sound.”

Peter Phillips Director of The Tallis Scholars added: ““With The Tallis Scholars I have created an instrument which has a very distinctive sound. I can’t think of anything more useful than to put this highly trained instrument at the disposal of these inspiring young composers and am hugely appreciative that they have written so well for us. I find it thrilling to perform works by a 16 year old and a 20 year old and really hope this Award will encourage them to develop their styles and write for many different kinds of ensembles.”

Chris Wines, Senior Music Producer, BBC Radio 3 commented: “As the home of classical music, BBC Radio 3 is proud to partner again with such an inventive Award. The NCEM Composers Award and Radio 3 share the genuine desire to bring together classical music, talent and youth, with the award offering a crucial platform for young composers to create and express themselves through early music. This year's entries attracted a fantastically rich and broad range of imaginative entries and two very deserving winners. We look forward to sharing their music with our many listeners."

All compositions from the seven finalists were recorded by music technology students from the Department of Electronics at the University of York and will be available to hear on the NCEM website shortly at:

Tickets for the concert in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 2 June 2012 are available from the Gala Theatre Box Office, Durham.  T: 0191 332 4041 and

Winners Biographies

18-and-under category

Alex Woolf b.1995         Lux Aeterna
Alex Woolf (16) lives in Cambridge, and is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra and also an Aldeburgh Young Musician. He studies with Jeffery Wilson, and also receives tuition from Anna Meredith, Larry Goves and Charlotte Bray. In the last year his music has been performed at venues such as the Southbank Centre, The Sage Gateshead and the Britten Studio, as well as in Holland. In June this year his Fanfare will be premiered by Sir Antonio Pappano and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, and will be heard as an alternative to the interval bell at each opera/ballet of the 2012/13 season. His choral work Phoenix was recorded in Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge last year, and his music will feature at this year’s Snape Proms, when the Aldeburgh World Orchestra premieres a new piece to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, conducted by Sir Mark Elder.

19–25 category

Benjamin Rowarth b.1992    Where is thy God?
Benjamin Rowarth (20) began his musical life as a chorister at Hexham Abbey, where he later went on to sing bass and became organ scholar in 2009. Currently a second-year music student at Durham University, he sings with a number of choirs both in and outside Durham. He took up the post of Interim Director of Music in University College in 2011, and is currently the assistant director of Durham Polyphony and the director of Renaissance, a small choir that he founded in 2011. As a composer, he specialises in choral music and has premiered many of his recent works with Renaissance this year. He has twice been commissioned to compose music for theatre, and his soundtracks to Dr Faustus and The Bacchae were both performed in Durham in 2011. After winning the prize for the best documentary soundtrack at Leeds 24-hour Film Festival last year, he is currently working on two commissions for two short films under the direction of David Anthony-Thomas, one of which will be premiered at the Cannes and Paris Film Festivals later in 2012. 

Finalists in the 2012 NCEM Composers Award

18-and-under category

Samuel Pembery b.1996    Ascension
Samuel Pembery (16) has played the saxophone since the age of 9, achieving Grade VIII at the age of 14. He joined the Junior Music Course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2010 to specialise in jazz, and from September 2011 he also took up lessons in composition, having had one of his own compositions used in a school summer production that year. He will be attending Chetham’s School of Music in September 2012, to continue his music studies.

Aidan Tulloch b.1999    Bear the Bone Boat: St. Cuthbert’s Final Journey
Aidan Tulloch (12) is in Year 7 at Thirsk School, where he is a member of the school choir, string ensemble and string quartet. He has played the violin for four years and is currently preparing for his Grade VIII exam. He has played Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A minor as a soloist at The Sage in Gateshead, and enjoyed violin masterclasses with Tasmin Little and Bradley Creswick. He is also preparing for Grade IV piano. As well as loving early music, he is influenced by traditional fiddle music and he frequently goes busking in the hope of raising money to buy a harpsichord. Like his favourite composers, Byrd, Victoria and MacMillan, he enjoys composing music for use during the Mass. Outside music, his interests include nature conservation and supporting Durham County Cricket Club.

19–25 category category

Mark McCombs b.1989    Rex Iudaeorum
Mark McCombs (22) developed a love for choral music as a member of SFX Boys’ Choir, Liverpool and later as a Choral Scholar at St Matthew’s, Sheffield, where he has recently been appointed Organ Scholar. In 2011 he gained his BMus from the University of Sheffield, majoring in the study and performance of sixteenth-century English music, and has now begun a MPhil/PhD degree programme in choral and vocal composition. Since 2010 he has been conductor and student associate composer of the University’s Chamber Choir, who continue to premiere a number of his compositions. Recent projects and commissions have also been performed by trombonist John Kenny; The Steel City Singers; The Sonnen Quartet; the Choir of St Matthew’s, Sheffield; the Choir of St John’s Chapel, Southsea; and soprano Debra Finch. He has been musical director of the University of Sheffield Performing Arts Society and the Sheffield Hallam University Drama Society, and has also been involved in the PowerPlus Composition Scheme at a variety of Sheffield schools. 

Samuel Parsons
 b.1990    Out of the Heights
Samuel Parsons (21) is currently in his second year studying music at Hertford College, Oxford. His performance background spans classical guitar recitals, jazz performances from big band to small ensembles, and busking on the streets of his home town, Bath. He has accompanied singers with his own lute transcriptions, sings as a bass in Hertford College Chapel Choir and occasionally performs in smaller vocal ensembles around Oxford. As a composer and arranger, he won an award for best arrangement in the Oxford heat of Voice Festival UK for his version of Damien Rice’s The Blower’s Daughter for a female a cappella group. His other works include a string quartet, a song-cycle for mezzo-soprano, and several more choral works. At present he studies composition with Phillip Cooke, and cites Whitacre, Metheny, Pärt and Takemitsu as specific musical influences. Alongside his own work, he reviews concerts and recordings for the student newspaper Cherwell, and also teaches guitar and theory privately.

Lydia Jane Pugh b.1986    Á la Perchoine
Lydia Jane Pugh (25) was born and raised in Guernsey. Having completed her degree in music at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and her Masters in composition at Leeds College of Music, she now works as a freelance composer, performer and private music teacher. Her preference for setting and creating texts, and telling heart-felt stories, has made her very popular with choirs and choral societies, resulting in several commissions. Her music has been performed at several events and festivals in the Channel Islands, and also at the Praga Cantat Choral Music Festival in Prague.