After receiving applications from across the length and breadth of the UK, Britten Sinfonia and mentor Sir James MacMillan are pleased to announce the shortlisted composers for OPUS2018: Patrick Gardner, Geoff Hannan, James Moriarty, José Guillermo Puello and Robert Singer. Britten Sinfonia received applications from composers living in every part of the United Kingdom (including from Sir James MacMillan’s hometown of Cumnock), with an age range of 17-65 years old. The winner of OPUS2018 will receive a commission fee and a UK tour of their winning work, part of Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning At Lunch series.
The shortlist was drawn up by Sir James MacMillan and composers were judged only on the quality of their submission – all works were reviewed anonymously. The five composers will be at Saffron Hall on Sunday 13 January, where their pieces will be workshopped by Britten Sinfonia musicians Jacqueline Shave, Miranda Dale, Clare Finnimore, Huw Watkins and Caroline Dearnley, and folk singer Hannah Rarity. They will receive mentoring from Sir James MacMillan. For the first time ever the workshop will be open to the public (tickets are free – book here) and the winner of the Audience Prize and the overall winner of OPUS2018 will be announced on the day. The panel of judges will feature Sir James MacMillan, Jacqueline Shave and Huw Watkins.
Find out a little bit more about the five shortlisted composers below.
London-based composer Patrick Gardner received a music degree from Durham University in 1980, having studied composition, analysis and electronic music with resident composer David Lumsdaine. His progress as a composer has been characterized by periods of intense activity, and long periods of listening and waiting. A burst of song-writing in the late 80s was followed in the late 90s by the development of a flexible compositional system based on chains of triad cells. The 9 Virtuous Pieces (piano) made the SPNM shortlist and Forager Chiffchaff Sings (baritone/organ) was also workshopped by the same organisation.
2008 saw the composition of several orchestral scores, after which Patrick turned his attention back to electronic media: The Passion according to Schäflein (2012) was presented twice – with a 12 minute section being played on BBC Radio 3. Over the same period, a number of musicals for schools have been performed.
Patrick Gardner has twice won the Norwich Baroque Losh-Atkinson Historic Sounds Competition. He continues to write in a wide variety of styles, including a reworking of Stockhausen’s Tierkreis for Traverso, Spinet and Digital Media, a number of electronic Jazz Stretches, much piano music and, more recently, several choral works.
Geoff Hannan was born in London in 1972. He studied composition privately with Michael Finnissy before reading Music at Manchester University where he graduated in 1993. 2009-10 he was the Alan Hawkshaw Foundation Scholar at the National Film and Television School. In 1998 he was awarded the Gaudeamusprijs for Rigmarole, his first mature work, and in 2007 the 5th International Marenco Prize for Lifeblood. In 2013 he orchestrated Miss Christina which won a GOPO Award (Romania) for Best Original Score for a Feature Film. His music has been performed at many festivals in the UK and abroad, including the Huddersfield Festival and SOUNDINGS at the Austrian Cultural Forum, and been heard on British, French and Dutch radio, notably Hear and Now, and Sounding the Century. He has been performed by, among others, the London Sinfonietta, IXION, the Ives Ensemble (Netherlands) and CONTINUUM (Toronto). His most recent commissions are Pocket Universe for EXAUDI and Time Is A Prison for percussionist Ying-Hsueh Chen (Denmark). He is also an avid arranger, having completed, with the composer’s blessing, Birtwistle’s Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum for percussion quartet and Elgar’s Enigma Variations for clarinet, violin, cello and piano.
James Moriarty is a London-based composer and workshop leader. His work exhibits an extraordinary breadth, including everything from experimental new music to collaborations with young musicians, and has seen him work with organisations such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Academy of Music, and Royal Albert Hall. Fuelled by a belief that everyone is capable of meaningful creative activity, he seeks to develop powerful artistic work in the widest possible range of contexts.
James studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was fortunate enough to receive the Regency Award, Pullen Memorial Prize, Charles W Black Fellowship, Howard Hartog Scholarship,
and the Eric Coates composition prize – the latter for a first version of his work ‘Windows’, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra. After graduating James became a fellow with the Academy’s creative learning and participation department ‘Open Academy’. This was followed by postgraduate study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a Headley Fellow on the ‘Teaching Musician’ programme.
Recent projects have included work at home and overseas. An innovative new project with the London Symphony Orchestra led to the premiere of a specially commissioned work for symphony orchestra and a massed ensemble of GCSE music students. A commission for the Setúbal Youth Ensemble, a unique group that includes drummers, classical instrumentalists, jazz musicians, and young people with special needs, was premiered at the Setúbal Music Festival, Portugal in May 2017. A project celebrating cultural links between Britain and Armenia, supported by the British Embassy, has led to James composing new works based on Armenian poetry that have been premiered in Yerevan, Armenia. Other projects have included the founding of a creative choir for adults, ongoing work delivering music education for young refugees and migrants with the charity Fairbeats!, and creative music projects in schools across London.
José Guillermo Puello
José Guillermo Puello is a composer from the Dominican Republic based in Manchester. He completed a Bachelor of Music at the University of Birmingham (2009) before completing his Masters and PhD at the University of Manchester (2010, 2015) under the supervision of Dr. Camden Reeves. He was awarded the National Music Prize (Dominican Republic) in 2017 for his orchestral piece Cruces d´Atabal. In 2012, he was awarded the ‘Premio Personalidad Cultural 2011’ by the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic.
José Guillermo´s music has been performed in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic by a variety of ensembles (Manchester Camerata 2010, Psappha 2011, Constella Orchestra 2012, Manchester Chamber Choir 2016). His music has been featured during the World Event Young Artists in 2012 as well as programmed in various festivals including soundSCAPE Exchange (2014), the Atlantic Music Festival (2011) and North West New Music Festival (2012, 2013). He has received commissions from The Fourth Wall Ensemble (2013), the Dominican National Youth Orchestra (2014) and Resound Duo (2017). Jose Guillermo has also collaborated with theatre makers and choreographers in different projects (PUSH Festival2017, REACT 2018, Turn Festival 2015).
Robert Singer grew up in the English Lake District where music became an integral part of his life from the start. When he was five, an inherited piano became his creative instrument. He attended Westmorland Youth Orchestra as percussionist, and played in the National Theatre in London as part of a school show.
He studied music at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, where he wrote for dance and theatre, working alongside professionals Steve Nestar and award-winning theatre director, Mark Babych. He was asked to write the music for his graduation ceremony, hosted by Paul McCartney.
During his Masters in Music Composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Robert further studied classical and electroacoustic music. He led an independent project with choreographers from Ballet Cymru to create and perform an original full-scale ballet with orchestra (the first to be performed at the college).
Since graduating Robert has worked with soprano Chanae Curtis (praised for her attractive singing by the New York Times) and Jakob Grubbström (conductor of the Cantores Amicitiae choir). Robert’s musical creativity continues to grow with a strongly elemental voice emerging.
You can come to the finalists workshop with all five shortlisted composers, mentor Sir James MacMillan, folk singer Hannah Rarity and Britten Sinfonia musicians at Saffron Hall on 13 January – entry is free but ticketed. Tickets can be booked here.
Find out more about the OPUS2018 competition here.