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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Finnissy shortlisted for two British Composer Awards

Published: 3 November 2015

Southampton Chair of Composition Professor Michael Finnissy has been shortlisted in two categories of the British Composer Awards 2015. These awards are unique in making contemporary music, jazz and sonic art the focus of their annual celebration. Created by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 2003, the Awards promote the art of composition, recognise the creative talent of composers and sound artists, and bring their music to a wider audience. Michael has previously won two awards, both in 2005, for Molly-House and his Verdi Transcriptions Book 4, and was also nominated in 2010 for Transgressive Gospel.

Professor Finnissy’s work John the Baptist for SATB and organ, nominated in the Liturgical category alongside James Macmillan’s Little Mass and Kerry Andrew’s Salve Regina, was commissioned by Saint John’s College Cambridge for Advent 2014. It is a setting of short episodes from one of the older texts of the York Mystery Play Cycle (number 21: Barbours), which is predominantly based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 3 verses 1 - 17. It has a very simple musical structure, alternating boisterous, jig-like, 2-part homophony with much slower, reflective, polyphony. The harmonic nuances are intended to recall the folkmusic of the Middle East (the actual location of John’s nervously hesitant baptising of Christ).

Beat Generation Ballads for solo piano and was commissioned (with funds from the Britten-Pears Foundation) for a programme in honour of American composer Christian Wolff’s 80th birthday. It received its world premiere on 22nd November 2014 at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival St Paul’s Hall by pianist Philip Thomas. The work was also performed by Thomas in the Music Department Professional Lunchtime Concert Series last December. Beat Generation Ballads is shortlisted in the Solo or Duo category of the awards alongside works by Judith Weir (Day Break Shadows Free) and Sohrab Uduman (Glitschig).

The British Composer Awards take place on Wednesday 9th December at BFI Southbank, London, and will be hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Andrew McGregor.


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