Chris James, a former member of academic staff in the department, died tragically in January 2007. In the short time that he worked in the department he was an inspirational teacher who shared his knowledge readily, particularly in composition. Chris was a talented composer whose work was just beginning to receive national recognition.

This award is given annually to a final year student composer who has displayed similar talent.

There is no application process as award winners are chosen by academic staff in the department after the final-year composition folios have been assessed.