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Composition Prize’s Digital Make-over

Mon 30 March 2020

Amid London’s lock-down, new music is still thriving at Trinity Laban as the Daryl Runswick Competition goes virtual for 2020. 

Named after a former Head of Composition at Trinity Laban, the annual Daryl Runswick Competition is one of the Conservatoire’s premier platforms for showcasing brand new work.

This year the competition, which celebrates the diversity and creativity of our composition community, underwent a digital make-over with current Head of Composition Dominic Murcott presenting an exclusively online edition for the first time in the Conservatoire’s history.

The virtual showcase, streamed on our YouTube channel at 2pm on Friday 27 March, saw finalists Assyl Almakhanova, Christopher Charlton, Mathieu Robert, Jan Stevuliak, Anders Waller and Harry Weir introduce their compositions before theremin virtuoso Lydia Kavina – former pupil of the instrument’s inventor Léon Theremin – performed extracts from the works. Composer-conductor Gregory Rose then discussed the orchestration and practicality of each score.


Lydia Kavina playing the theremin

(Image: Lydia Kavina)

The competition was adjudicated remotely by composer, musicologist and performer Dr Lauren Redhead, Senior Lecturer and Head of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Goldsmiths University.
Lauren praised the six finalists’ work, commending their strong ideas and individuality, before naming Harry Weir the overall winner for Chromatic Aberration.

Awarding the prize, Lauren described Harry’s piece as “sensitively written” and “gestural”, praising the composer’s effective use of orchestration as stand-out.

On winning this year’s competition, Harry comments –

“I am deeply honoured that my piece ‘Chromatic Aberration’ was selected as the winner of this year’s competition, however the real victory here is the opportunity Trinity Laban gives us to write for an ensemble of this size and guarantee a recording or a premiere of our work. I must thank Soosan Lolavar and Gwyn Pritchard for their expert teaching, and to Gregory, Lydia, and Dr Redhead for their helpful comments today.”

Harry Weird conducting an ensemble at an outside event

(Image: Harry Weir)

Lauren also gave an honourable mention to Anders Waller’s Falling Objects, praising the composer’s willingness to experiment and ability to create different textures and colours within the ensemble.

Trinity Laban’s Head of Composition Dominic Murcott commented –

“In previous years we’ve held this event at the National Portrait Gallery, at Southbank Centre and at the Brunel Museum, but today’s ‘socially-distanced’ version was in the ether. All six pieces were of an incredible standard – a testament to the creativity and flair within the Composition Department at Trinity Laban. Thank you to all the staff who supported this project.”

As London’s Creative Conservatoire, Trinity Laban provides a playground for the creative mind where experimentation combines with technical excellence.

Learn more about the Composition Department on our study pages.

The Daryl Runswick Competition 2020 is available to watch on our YouTube channel. Congratulations to all our finalists.


Finalists and Repertoire

Jan Stevuliak Idyll of Justice for Everyone
Mathieu Robert Confession
Assyl Almakhanova Foggy Introduction
Anders Waller Falling Objects
Christopher Charlton The Movie Night Suite
Harry Weir Chromatic Aberration