Skip to main content

Daryl Runswick Digital 2021

Fri 21 May 2021

Daryl Runswick Digital 2021

In a competition adjudicated by Stephen Fry, seven composers presented musical works inspired by social distance: these include responses to empty London architecture, the loss of a parent and the politics of wealth.

Following the success of last year’s online version, Trinity Laban’s annual Daryl Runswick Competition went virtual once again for 2021. The Head of Composition Dominic Murcott presented an exclusive online event celebrating brand-new pieces from finalists within the department.

The 2021 final, broadcast on Trinity Laban’s YouTube on Friday 21 May, hosted premieres from students Georgia Barnes, Martha Clayton, Nathen Durasamy, Emily De Gruchy, Franklyn Oliver, Leo Holder and Matthis Meyer and highlighted the diversity and creativity of our composition community.

This year, entrants were tasked with composing a new work for a 16-piece socially distanced chamber ensemble, combining the traditional challenges of orchestral writing with the added complexities of creating ensemble work during a pandemic.

Head of Composition Dominic Murcott comments –

“We usually like to hold the competition final in an unconventional venue – such as the Brunel Museum or National Portrait Gallery – but this year, Covid restrictions provided its own challenge, prompting many of the finalists to explore distance and space in their works.”

Building on the department’s established tradition of inviting guest artists from outside the musical sphere – such as philosophers, politicians, comedians, chefs and Turner Prize-winning artists – to lead workshops with students, this year’s adjudicator was none other than Stephen Fry.

Introducing the guest, Dominic Murcott explains –

“We thought it would be interesting if chose an adjudicator who represents the view of the audience, someone who can act as informed listener.”

On being invited to adjudicate, the English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director, writer and lover of music comments –

“Delighted to be asked to judge such a prestigious competition. It’s a marvellous thing to feel part of something that promotes, rewards, encourages and celebrates young musical talent.”

Stephen praised the seven finalists’ work, commending their musical understanding and orchestration skills, before naming Nathen Durasamy the overall winner for Enantiodromia: in loving memory of Dad.

The work conveys the experience of an anxiety attack, informed by the writings of Carl Jung, and is a homage to Nathen’s father who died in May 2020. Stephen described the composition as having intelligence and made from wonderful textures and colour.

Nathen, who is studying his Postgraduate Advanced Diploma in composition, comments –

“What an honour to have won. I am delighted! Studying composition and orchestration at Trinity Laban has been a remarkable experience. I’ve always wanted to write for a small orchestra and I’m so pleased that I got the opportunity to do so.

“Getting our pieces recorded by the fantastic players led by Gregory Rose has been an honour and a privilege. To then be involved with such an encouraging masterclass and competition is wonderful. Thank you to all involved in making this competition a reality.”

Dominic Murcott reflects –

“The Daryl Runswick Competition is one of the Conservatoire’s many platforms for students to showcase new works. It is central to our ethos that students learn by doing, which is why creating stimulating composition opportunities like this is so important. Core to our training is fostering the space for students to artistically explore their interests and musical styles from any genre, from poetry to Grime to video games, whilst underpinning that experimentation with contemporary classical techniques and orchestration skills.”

Watch the online event to hear Stephen’s detailed responses to the finalists’ works and listen to pieces in full on our YouTube.

Learn more about Composition at Trinity Laban.