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Finnissy wins two British Composer Awards

Published: 14 December 2015
Professor Michael Finnissy
Professor Michael Finnissy at the British Composer Awards 2015

Southampton Chair of Composition Professor Michael Finnissy has won both categories in which he was shortlisted in for 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 voices and organ won the Liturgical Category. 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 won the Solo and Duo category. The piece 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.

The British Composer Awards took place on Wednesday 9th December at BFI Southbank, London, and were hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Andrew McGregor. Highlights from the ceremony were broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now programme on Saturday 12th December, and are available on the BBC iPlayer:




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