THE MURIEL DAWSON COMPOSITION AWARD
Several years ago the Society received a bequest from the estate of Muriel Dawson, stipulating that the legacy should benefit young people.
There are already many awards available to young performers, and a few available to young composers. But we felt that a new type of scheme was needed, in which young composers and performers would be rewarded for working together. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music work with us for the benefit of their students and fellows.
The winning composer is commissioned to write a new piece for the Richmond Concert Society in collaboration with an ensemble of students. The composer and performers are paid from the Muriel Dawson legacy. Besides the financial benefit they gain experience presenting a new work to the RCS audience.
Each autumn the schools solicit applications from composers. Each application includes scores of three previous compositions, and recordings of at least two of them. The composer submits the application knowing which student performing ensemble he/she would work with.
A panel of judges reviews the applications. The award is given to one composer based on their previous work.
The composer writes a new piece of about ten minutes’ duration, and works with the performers to devise a well-rounded programme of about 40 minutes of music. This is performed following the RCS Annual General Meeting in July.
We receive several applications per year, which indicates that the young composers are very interested in the opportunity we provide. Risk-taking is an integral part of creative work, and there’s been the expected variety of opinions within the RCS audience, but composers who have won the award have gone on to prove their abilities in additional ways; one has been signed on with a major publisher and received commissions in other countries, for example. And the RCS audience has been delighted with the young performers.
We’re grateful to Muriel Dawson for having made all this possible.
In Memoriam – Alastair Putt
Alastair was the winner of this award in 2011. We are saddened to hear of his death.
Our former music director, Kevin Raftery, writes:
“Those who were present at the premiere of Alastair’s wind quintet ‘Halazuni’ in 2011 may remember the sprightly young man in blue jeans conducting – because at the last minute the musicians felt the need for a conductor, however dressed. We can all be proud that the RCS commissioned this piece, which was performed again as part of the 2019 Proms. It’s worth another hearing on his SoundCloud page, where other delights can be found.
Alastair’s music is marked by vivid imagination, fine textures, intriguing rhythms and lovely harmonies (or, as he described on his website, “new forms of consonance”). Alastair the man will be remembered for his enthusiasm, laughter, unerring musicianship and perfectionism. In recent years it became harder for him to laugh, as life dealt him a series of hard blows. We have lost a beautiful voice.”