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Cambridge Young Composer of the Year 2016/17: Results

Young Musician
of the Year

Young Composer
of the Year



The composers, with winner Alexia Sloane extreme left, line up at the Finals of the competition in West Road Concert Hall, with members of the Hermes Experiment and Judge Ewan Campbell.

The Finals of the 2016/17 Cambridge Young Composer of the Year competition took place on Sunday 30 October 2016 at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge with an exceptional line up of entries by 13 young composers.

Judge Ewan Campbell said he found it particularly difficult to pick out winners as all the entries were so good.

The winner of the 15-17 age group and the new Cambridge Young Composer of the Year is 16-year-old Alexia Sloane – the first girl to win the competition since it began in 2006.

Alexia has been blind since the age of two and composes using a braille keyboard. Composing involves her in an extremely lengthy process of dictating every note for someone else to write down. Her winning composition, Passiflora, took eight hours to transcribe in this way.

Ewan Campbell described Passiflora as "an ambitious piece that makes excellent use of the available instrumentation, with some very interesting harmonies and unusual melodic scales. The piece attains its timeless, dreamlike feel with a loose sense of rhythm and flexible approach to meter."

Passiflora, was performed at the Finals by members of the Hermes Experiment – an unusual combination of harp, clarinet, double bass and soprano, which presented an interesting challenge for this year's composers. The group played all the entries and went on to give a concert in the evening.

Alexia, a student at Hills Road Sixth Form College, set Passiflora to the text of "Southampton Water", a poem by RG Gregory. She dedicated the work to the victims of the shootings in Orlando on the 12th of June, and to the LGBTQIA community.

Alexia was presented with the Young Composer of the Year cup and a cheque for £50. As part of her prize she will also be invited to compose a piece for performance at next year's event. A Highly Commended was awarded in this age group to Garrett Norton for his piece Baelcraft.

The 12-14 year age group was won by Oliver Mavaddat-Rhys, 12, for his piece The blurring of time, which Ewan Campbell said was a very quirky piece with constant surprises and unexpected new ideas. A Highly Commended in this age group was awarded to Jacob Fitzgerald for his piece Evolve.

The 11 and under class was won by Alfred Hopkins, 11, for his work Zen. Ewan Campbell said the piece was "very well imagined, and the composer has made excellent use of the creative freedom that comes with writing in free-time." Thomas Alban, 11, was awarded a Highly Commended in this age group for his piece Rippling Waters.

The Hermes Experiment specialise in contemporary music, and have commissioned new works from over 30 composers. They performed all the entries at the Finals with Ewan Campbell discussing each work in turn and he and the performers providing feedback and advice to the composers.

Competition details and rules

Young Composers' Concert
In the evening of 30 October the Hermes Experiment gave a short concert at West Road Concert Hall at which some of the winning entries from the competition were performed, together with other contemporary works.

The concert also included the world premiere of Bird Movements, a piece written by last year's Cambridge Young Composer of the Year 17-year-old Dominic Wills.






Competition Results

Alexia Sloane receives her prize from judge Ewan Campbell

Cambridge Young Composer of the Year 2016/17:
Alexia Sloane

Age group 15-17
Alexia Sloane

Highly Commended: Garrett Norton

Age group 12-14
Oliver Mavaddat-Rhys

Highly Commended:
Jacob Fitzgerald

Age group 11 and under
Alfred Hopkins

Highly Commended: Thomas Alban

The Hermes Experiment performing at the evening concert