At the RTO Festival concert in Edinburgh on 13th August, we announced that Edwin Sung (seen left shaking hands with Alexander Mccall-Smith) was the winner of the £1,000 RTO Emerging Composers Competition. Edwin, age 24, is a mathematics graduate from Cambridge. His composition, A Wee bit of Irish Scottish Jig, uses Irish and Scottish themes to describe a journey through the landscapes of the two countries. It has strong Celtic influences, but suggests rather than reusing existing traditional tunes. It is immediately accessible both to our audience and the players. The scoring was very detailed, and has lots of music for all the instruments to play. The music still has enough challenge to make it satisfying for the players – but is by no means a pushover. It is both interesting and exciting. Alexander McCall Smith presented Edwin with his prize at the Edinburgh Festival concert.
It was too difficult to establish one runner-up from the remaining four short-listed entries, so we also announced that each would receive a runner-up prize of £250.
- Feyi Adebiyi – Sinfonia No 1. Feyi is a student at Birmingham University and has written a piece in Classical Mozartian style. It is very clever – very audience friendly and great fun to play – with little Scottish touches subtly woven in. It is what Mozart might have written while on holiday in Scotland!
- Jack McKenzie – A Tale of Old. Jack is 18 years old, has just left school in Livingston, the sole Scottish representative on the short-list. His music represents an epic battle and the victory thereafter, inspired by this love of Fantasy. Good imagery in the music, uses all the instruments to their strengths, good playability and delivers exciting music for the audience. The rhythms were particularly effective.
- Caroline Penn – The Witches. Caroline, 16 years old from Essex, is our youngest entrant. Her music is an adventure inspired by film music, influences Hans Zimmer and John Williams. She has cleverly chosen D minor, which is the best key for amateur orchestras, a great help for the playability. This was another exciting piece with interesting rhythms. A really full orchestral score, with especially strong percussion and without many difficulties for the players.
- Ryan Yard – River Travels Onwards. Ryan is a music teacher from Telford in Shropshire. His piece is about the simplicity of being amidst great stress and sadness and the universal quality of melody. Again the composition involves the whole orchestra in a piece that we felt we could play really well. Though structurally fairly simple, the layering of the sound was particularly effective and there is good texture to give it plenty of interest.
So congratulations to all the winners! We have a busy few months ahead of us as we start to rehearse their music. We still plan to play all of the five short-listed compositions in a special concert in the Spring. Watch this space to see how we are getting on and for further details for the concert nearer the time.