Lucy Pankhurst wins 2011 British Composer Award

The Music Company (UK) Ltd takes immense pleasure in announcing that one of their key writers, Lucy Pankhurst, has won the 2011 British Composer Award for her evocative composition ‘In Pitch Black’. This prestigious national award, organised by BASCA (The British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) and supported by PRS for Music and BBC Radio 3 was formally announced at an auspicious awards ceremony held at Stationers Hall in London on Wednesday, 30th November.

This is the first time a brass band work has ever been selected as the winning nomination for the competition in the Wind Band/Brass Band category, offering substantial recognition of Lucy’s compositional talent and a landmark success for the development of brass band music in the UK. Further, Lucy is also the first female writer ever to have received this celebrated award in this particular section.

Clair Tomalin, Business Director of The Music Company (UK) Ltd who joined Lucy at the awards ceremony commented: “Lucy’s success in receiving this nationally notable award is such a significant step in acknowledging her musical talent. The room was filled to the brim with some of the UKs finest composers, many of whom have worked with orchestras, choirs and ensembles at the highest international level – Lucy now has a deserved position amongst such talent.

In winning this fantastic award, Lucy’s composition ‘In Pitch Black’, (written for the Wingates Band in tribute and memory of the tragic Pretoria Pit disaster of 1910 where many of the band members lost their lives), has demonstrated to the wider musical world the way brass band music can go beyond the stereotypical format that is so regularly misrepresented in the general media. This award has really put Lucy on the wider musical map and acts as a tangible acknowledgement that her writing talent should be readily embraced by brass bands and music-lovers of all forms throughout the world. In this nationally recognised success, she has broken many of the boundaries associated with the acceptability of brass band works and has greatly assisted in bringing a new respect from non-brass band musicians and organisations to this genre.

Lucy was amongst impressive company with nominees in the other categories including musical comedian Tim Minchin (Stageworks category) and prestigious composer and author Tim Payne (Chamber category). Her co-finalists in the Wind Band/Brass Band category include Emily Howard (Brass Band work – Obsidian) and Tom Davoren (Wind Orchestra work – Looking In).

Lucy was overwhelmed by winning the award and commented: “I was so thrilled to have been short-listed in the first place, so to actually win the award is an incredible feeling. This piece has such emotional ties for me because of my long-standing links with the Wingates Band, so the award gives me a huge sense of pride on so many levels. It brings obvious recognition and appreciation for ‘In Pitch Black’ and its inspiration, but to learn that this is the first time a brass band work has won the award also shows that it has stimulated awareness of the effectiveness and potential that brass band music can offer.

After the award announcement was made, they played an extract of my piece for the audience to get an understanding of the composition. So, it was particularly interesting at the reception following to be approached by so many of the other guests and hear their positive comments on the sounds, textures and emotion that can be conveyed by brass band instrumentation – all of whom seemed so pleasantly surprised by what they heard can be achieved in this form. It was wonderful that such esteemed and experienced musicians were so interested in the sounds a brass band can generate.”

Lucy gave a genuinely heartfelt acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, offering her gratitude to the Wingates Band for their assistance whilst she researched and developed the composition, and to her publisher, The Music Company (UK) Ltd, for their ongoing enthusiasm and support for her writing.

Lucy is already an award winning composer including the 2006 RNCM Festival of Brass Young Composers Competition (for Ascension), Best New Composition at the 2007 US Open (for Wicked), and more recently the John Golland Composers Award 2011 being presented to her earlier this year at the RNCM Festival of Brass for her work Alchemist’s Fire. She is the composer-in-residence for The Wingates Band and also an extremely accomplished tenor horn player. Her portfolio of composition and arranged works spreads from classical through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to modern pop and on to a unique contemporary style, with an eclectic writing interest that includes brass band, instrumental works, wind band, saxaphone ensembles and even a piece featuring a steam train! She is much in demand for commissions and has offered many memorable performance works at numerous key brass band events.

The British Composers Awards 2011 is now in its ninth year, celebrating the music of composers living and working in the United Kingdom and offering 13 independent categories of composition genres. The event is presented by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), sponsored by PRS for Music and in association with BBC Radio 3 who will be providing exclusive broadcast coverage of the Awards, scheduled to be aired at 2.00pm on 4th December.

Everyone at The Music Company (UK) Ltd offers their sincere congratulations for this landmark success for Lucy and the development of brass band music in general it represents.

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