Finalists announced for University of Aberdeen Music Prize

A composer who shot to fame when his work was performed at the Royal wedding in April has narrowed his search to find up-and-coming composing talent.

The biennial University of Aberdeen Music Prize is the brainchild of Professor  Paul Mealor, Professor of Composition at the University of Aberdeen, whose work ‘Ubi caritas’ was premiered at the marriage of the Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Five finalists have been selected for the 2011/2012 competition, run in collaboration with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO), which will allow the winning composer to bring their music to a worldwide audience.

Much is at stake as the winning composer will receive a prize of £5000 in the form of a commission to write a new piece for the BBC SSO which will subsequently be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Under the patronage of Dame Evelyn Glennie, the University of Aberdeen Music Prize competition forms the centrepiece of a wider celebration of contemporary musical creativity in the form of a weekend of hands-on events, workshops and concerts held in Aberdeen in November in association with the Sound Festival of Contemporary Music.

This will culminate in a concert at Aberdeen’s Cowdray Hall where the winner will be announced.

Finalists were selected by a panel of experts from more than 400 entries from 80 countries. The finalists are:

· Shai Cohen from Israel - the 2010 ‘Authors, Composers and Publishers Association’ winner for his work "Echoes of Eternity" - Fantasia for violin solo and orchestra.  

Among the performers of his music are distinguished musicians and ensembles like the SNU Symphony Orchestra (Korea), the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music 

Shai’s piece Circles of Time has won through to the final of the competition.

· Zvonimir Nagy from the USA is Assistant Professor of Musicianship Studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Zvonimir‘s piece Ayreshas been selected for the final. Science, neuroscience, and the world of digital media are major influences on the composer’s work.

Some of Nagy’s awards include the distinguished Croatian Music Institute Award; Concours National de Piano de Paris, 1st prize; and The Durington Composition Award.

· Christophe Looten from France is well known in the music world for developing the music scale called the bi-pentaphonic mode which allows a composer to use the atonal scale while maintaining the richness of the tonal scale which is normally used in composition.

Christophe, who has been composing since he was seven, will have his piece Quintet performed at the concert.

·25-year-old Marc Garcia Vitoria from Valencia, Spain, has been shortlisted for his piece Plastic Trio.

In 2007 he obtained the jury prize for his piece ‘L’union libre’ at the “6èmes rencontres internationales de composition musicale de Cergy-Pontoise”.

He recently received a commission for a piece for "Trio de Magia" by the "Insititut Valencià de la Música", and is now working on a new piece for "Ensemble Intercontemporain" to be premiered in October 2011.

·27-year-old Azusa Yomogida from Japan has been composing since she was 14. Autana III has won her a place in the final.

Her previous works include ‘The Bonfire’, a piano piece for four hands, and she recently performed in July 2011 IRCAM Stage Overview Program in Paris.

Professor Mealor 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. Hundreds of composers from every corner of the globe embraced the competition, many of whom wrote to us to express their gratitude that such an event exists.

"We are also honoured to have such a well-respected and world-renowned composer, Professor Julian Anderson, as our 2011 judge and, in the BBC SSO we have a body of musicians that understand the techniques of modern music better than anyone.”

The Music Prize links in with the Aberdeen sound festival of new music which will take place over the same weekend (4 to 6 November).

Professor Pete Stollery, Head of the School of Education and co-Director of the sound festival said, "The Music Prize is now firmly established in the new music calendar and the University is proud to host the competition and to showcase some of the best composers in the world."

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 we're delighted to continue our partnership with the University of Aberdeen Music Prize."