Growing global reputation sees entrants from a record number of countries for 2009 University of Abe

The University of Aberdeen Music Prize is hitting the right note with aspiring composers and the competition has now earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious contemporary composition prizes across the globe.

The University of Aberdeen Music Prize is hitting the right note with aspiring composers and the competition has now earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious contemporary composition prizes across the globe.

The 2009 contest reflects the growing status of this unique collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO), attracting a worldwide response with entrants from a record 36 countries.

Hundreds of scores have been whittled down to a shortlist of five and the finalists will go head-to-head in a dramatic climax comprising a weekend of workshops, performances and concerts in November.

The biannual event will be judged by the pre-eminent Scottish composer James MacMillan.

There is much at stake as the winner will be awarded £5,000 in the form of a commission to write a full piece for symphony orchestra, which will be premiered by the BBC SSO at The Music Hall in 2010, before being broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The University of Aberdeen Music Prize has become one of the most talked-about music competitions in the world and has brought both acclaim and success to previous winners.

Jun Lee, who was victorious at the 2007 event, has established himself within the contemporary music scene and has since worked on a variety of projects, including a recent commission to re-orchestrate Apollo for a screening of For All Mankind at the Science Museum in London.

The 2009 finalists are David Elliott (USA), Hiroshi Nakamura (Japan), Yuko Ohara (Japan), Jonas Valfridsson (Sweden) and May Kay Yau (Hong Kong).

David Elliott is a graduate of London’s Royal College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He is a former clarinet specialist and was selected to perform with the National Youth Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, New York, aged just 10. He will be hoping for success with his piece,The Pavilion.

Lux, mea crux, Crux, mea lux! has earned Hiroshi Nakamura his place in the final. Hiroshi has taken part in a number of composition competitions world-wide, including The Kazimierz Serocki 10th International Composer's Competition ISCM Polish Section 2006, Concorso Internazionale di Composizione "Settimane Musicali di Stresa" 2007, and the fifth International Prokofiev Competition 2008.

Hispieces have been performed by the Polish Radio Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and at SNG Opera and Balet Ljubljana, among others.

Japan will be well represented with Yuko Ohara also through to the final with Shade <--> Light. The Royal College of Music, London, graduate has already enjoyed competition success, winning the United Music Publishers Prize for Composition in 2006.

She has also been short listed for prizes at several composition competitions in Japan, UK, Italy and USA.

Jonas Valfridsson, from Sweden, is one of a new generation of young Scandinavian composers. With a mix from both modernistic and other traditions, Valfridsson’s music is appreciated for its colourful instrumentation, subtle textures and mysterious beauty.

He was selected for his piece entitled You Live on My Skin.

Completing the final line-up is Hong-Kong born May Kay Yau, with Vernarrtheit. Her compositions have been performed in various music festivals in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Israel, Portugal, Greece and UK. She has also collaborated with the London Sinfonietta, the BBC Singers, National Theatre, RAM Harp Ensemble, and the Gemini Ensemble. She is the composer-in residence with the Wuji Ensemble.

Under the patronage of Dame Evelyn Glennie, the competition forms the centerpiece of a weekend of workshops and concerts in the Granite City, running from November 20-22.

Doctor Paul Mealor, Director of the University of Aberdeen Music Prize, said: "Since it was first launched, this search for creative talent has helped to develop Aberdeen's role as one of the major cultural centres in the UK.

“We have been delighted by the response to the 2009 University of Aberdeen Music Prize and this reflects its growing status within musical circles.

“Entrants came from 36 countries worldwide and the standard this year has been higher than ever. The final promises to be a fantastic event.

"We are also honoured to have such a well respected judge in James Macmillan, and in the BBC SSO we have a body of musicians that understands the techniques of modern music better than anyone.”

Gavin Reid, Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, said: "The BBC SSO has an international reputation for promoting new music and developing the work of young composers, and so we're delighted to continue our successful partnership with the University of Aberdeen Music Prize."