BBC names its Young Composer winners

BBC names its Young Composer winners


norman lebrecht

July 04, 2014

press release:


Six talented young composers have been announced as the winners of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition 2014 – the culmination of the BBC Proms’ annual scheme which gives the nation’s brightest young composers aged between 12 – 18 years old the opportunity to explore their musical boundaries and get a taste of what it means to be a composer in the 21st century.


Now in its sixteenth year, the competition continues to offer winners unrivalled opportunities to reach wide audiences on world-class platforms for classical music including the BBC Proms and BBC Radio 3, as well as receive a much sought-after BBC commission.


The entries were judged by a panel chaired by Fraser Trainer comprising composers Stuart MacRae, Anna Meredith, Martin Suckling, Judith Weir CBE, and Radio 3 Editor Jeremy Evans, who looked for pieces that were original, unique, and inspiring.



The winners of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition 2014 are:



(12-16 years):        

Harry Castle – La Trahison des Images

Rob Durnin – Study in Anarchy

Matthew Jackson – Mirror Mirror



(17-18 years):        

Nathaniel Coxon – Two Cells

Anna Disley-Simpson – Underneath

Harry Johnstone – Dis-Pulsed


  • “…….. who looked for pieces that were original, unique, and inspiring.”

    It is very difficult to find anywhere within the field of culture, or intelligence, a more pathetic and ridiculous utterance. This one should be on view in the Gallery of Honor in the Imaginary Museum of Musical Nonsense, to paraphrase Lydia Goehr’s book.

    Which serious composer writes ‘original, unique, and inspiring’ works before his 18th year? Mr Mozart – a historic exception! due to his sophisticated father – produced some, indeed, of which the notion of ‘original’ can be contested, given the general musical style in his days the practice of which rested on imitation. With the absence of any generally practiced craft, the stylistic variety and confusion all around, and the overall abject influence of pop culture, the cultural conditions in our times for young real compositional talents to develop are at a record low. No serious work of music came out of the blue, but is the product of mastering an extensive range of very specific abilities, which take time to develop. Within an existing strong cultural tradition, this takes less time because supported by a general practice; in our degenerate modern culture, a young talent would have to build-up everything for him/herself from scratch.

    What happened to the BBC? Which ‘winners’ of all those 15 years have meanwhile proven to be a Mozart? One should feel sorry for the ‘winners’ of this competition for being administered false expectations, about themselves and about musical life.

    • Anne says:

      It’s just the usual overstatement. No shades of meaning any more.

    • Gerhard says:

      You ask: “Which serious composer writes ‘original, unique, and inspiring’ works before his 18th year?” – Mendelssohn did, for instance, and at this age he may even have been at his absolute peak level.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed, but at that time there existed a living tradition with a clear body of practices. That has completely eroded in the last century.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    Mendlessohn in the last 200 years is probably the closest to Mozart. That anyone should have that expectation of any composer is unrealistic. And anyway, Mark Simpson won in the same year he won Young Musician and he largely demonstrated those qualities then – and continues to do so now.