Over the Easter holiday, I was thrilled to be pronounced the winner of the under-18 category of the Benslow Young Composers’ Competition for my composition Very Early Spring. With a choice of five poems centering around Spring, applicants from across the United Kingdom were tasked with writing a five-minute-long song for soprano Sarah Leonard and pianist Stephen Gutman. My composition was heavily inspired by the colours and harmonies found in the French art song tradition of Fauré, Debussy and Boulanger. By contrasting floating, wintry piano arpeggios with recurring rising piano lines underpinned by warmer harmonies, I ventured to use the music to illustrate the relationship between the lingering squalls of winter and the ‘golden fingers’ of the sun in the poem by Katherine Mansfield. The final workshop of the competition was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, as the five shortlisted composers were able to hear each other’s works and receive comments and advice from the judge of the competition and Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir. To win the competition was such a pleasant surprise, and I look forward to hearing my composition performed as part of the Benslow International Concert Series in August.
Christopher Churcher, Divisions
You can read more about the competition here.