Composing Competition Finalists 2018

David Alexander-Barnes

David Alexander-Barnes

David Alexander-Barnes was born in 1993 and grew up in Sheffield. He began composing at the age of 14 and gained a first-class BMus degree from Birmingham University. David returned to study at Sheffield University and received a Master’s degree in Music Composition. He studied with composers Michael Zev-Gordon and George Nicholson.

Throughout both degrees he performed in brass and wind bands on cornet, but his main instrument is the piano; his favourite composers to play are Debussy, Satie, and Einaudi.

David has long maintained a strong interest in American music, in particular the works of Aaron Copland, John Adams, James Horner and John Williams; he hopes the bright, optimistic, and dramatic qualities of their music may be found in his own. His interest has inspired several visits to the United States.

David aspires to work as a professional composer.

Keep Moving

As one might guess from the title, Keep Moving is a fairly sing-minded piece; outside of the opening and closing minutes (a wistful introduction and a stately epilogue) the material rushes from section to section with barely a pause for breath; it swerves like a rollercoaster and changes keys on a whim; it is bombastic and restless.

The texture is driven by all manner of rhythms, and also by two melodies; the first (lyrical) is stated in the introduction and the second (angular) kicks off the faster tempo. An additional idea (fanfaric) drives the third minute of the piece and returns in the epilogue. Though the climax proper (there are two) introduces a new melody, its chord progression is derived from that of the second theme.

At the end the solo horn plays a melody reminiscent of the first, the second theme is recalled, and the piece ends quietly; its restless, searching quality has now been replaced with a serene calmness, and the ride has ended.

Jasper Dommett

Jasper Dommett

Originally from Devon, Jasper is a young composer studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he is exploring the diverse world of contemporary classical music. At the age of 9 Jasper started learning to play piano together with basic notation and harmony. His route into composition came from his development as a Baritone horn player for his local brass band. During practice, he would examine the harmonic and textural content of the music being played around him.

Now, Jasper's passion for music and new composition is shown through his other work, where he regularly attends concerts to develop his skills writing balanced critiques. With Thomas Adés, Kaija Saariaho, Oliver Knussen and Helen Grime as his biggest influences in his music, Jasper looks at the sound world he creates from an abstract perspective; with intentions of leading the audience down a journey with many twists and turns.

Last year after gaining a place on the composers' course with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, he worked closely with the established composer Mark Bowden. Here, Jasper's original piece Deep Waters gained him the title of "Most promising young composer of 2017" by the Welsh Music Guild.

Something in the Mist

The mist is thick with fear and tension. An unclear sense of location and co-ordination causes a journey full of twists and turns. An unsettled vision shrouds what is around the corner. The thick white cloud surrounds us within the discordant textures of the piece. The opening projects us into a world of uncertainty with piercing harmonics and fragmented melodies in the woodwind. Homophonic chords cut through the texture bringing focus to the vision of something in the mist.

Without warning the music moves into a quicker momentum with the orchestra pulsating thick ever-changing chords. With an ambiguous direction and inconsistent beat the driven music turns to a calmer projection of the opening. The harmony becomes more consonant with a clearer view in sight. The open orchestration gives a lighter sense with the mist rising and the surrounding area becoming more focused. In an abrupt shift the music returns to the dramatic section we heard before. The change in tonal centre adds intense apprehension to the music propelling us into the inevitable end.

Joseph Lim

Joseph Lim

Joseph Lim, possessing an insatiable appetite for all things musical, is a budding composer, saxophonist and educator. Esteemed composers like Dr Rob Keeley (KCL), Dr Edward Nesbit (KCL), Phoon Yew Tien and Benjamin Limyi have mentored him and have since written for varying ensembles.

His concert march The Little Red Squirrel was recognized for its 'Outstanding Merit' in the 2015 Singapore Wind Symphony Young Composer's Challenge and enjoyed its premiere by the Audioimage Wind Ensemble. A composition for Chinese Orchestra entitled Lenggang Kangkung entered the finals of the 2015 Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition. In 2017, his work for wind orchestra Galactic Dance was premiered by the Singapore Wind Symphony during a Young Composer showcase concert.

As an instrumentalist, Joseph studied the saxophone under Mr Leslie Wong and is currently under Professor Huw Wiggin from the Royal Academy of Music. He performs with the University of London Big Band and the Modern Music Society Saxophone Quartet.

Joseph is pursuing his undergraduate musical studies in King's College London and was awarded the Sambrooke Exhibition in Music Prize. He will be continuing his compositional education at the Royal Academy of Music.

Hearing a flute on a spring night in Luoyang

Hearing a flute on a spring night in Luoyang is inspired by a poem written by Li Bai.



From whose home secretly files the sound of a jade flute?
It's lost amid the spring wind which fill Luoyang city.
In the middle of this nocturne I remember the snapped willow,
What person would not start to think of home!

Sentiments of nostalgia and homesickness are evident in this succinctly and exquisitely fashioned literary work. In this musical setting, colourful dissonances pepper the work while the winds imitate the gentle presence of the spring wind as it suspends the flute melody. This composition joins the poet as an external aural stimulus by the flute prompts an inward psychological journey to introspection and melancholy.

Edwin Sung

Edwin Sung

Born in Hong Kong, Edwin's love of music was evident very early on, starting to compose from the age of 12. Although he has always been a self-taught composer, he was formally trained in piano, violin and trombone. Not considering this a wide enough variety, one of his hobbies is to collect and learn as many different instruments as he can to better understand them.

Since moving to England at 17, Edwin has travelled to many places such as around Europe and Asia. Travel, nature and the different cultures he meets form most of his inspirations in his music writing. He is specifically inspired by Celtic music such as jigs and reels, but also draws inspiration from British and French composers, such as Elgar and Debussy.

Now based in Cambridge, Edwin is a member of several local orchestras where he enjoys broadening his knowledge of music writing techniques. Despite his degree in mathematics and his career as a software engineer, composing music plays a crucial part in Edwin's everyday life.

Overture to the Proms

Inspired by the Promenade concerts, Overture to the Proms was written to express feelings of national pride and identity in a way that is also universal and unifying. While it has a distinctly British influence, it is overall a joyous piece which makes everyone smile, regardless of their national identity.

Imagine strolling around a pleasure garden in London, and suddenly hearing music from a nearby outdoor concert. This is how the Promenade concerts first started in the mid-18th century to attract people around the world to come together to enjoy listening to classical music. Overture to the Proms was inspired by this festival, sharing a desire to bring people together to enjoy classical music.

This piece references elements and musical ideas from the Romantic era of classical music, but not in a mimicking way - this is very much contemporary music, with elements such as polytonality. It makes use of short motifs which appear throughout the music but in different forms, creating familiarity but in ways designed to surprise and delight the listener. The bass section elongates these motifs during more reflective passages, leading the way to a grand and stately finish, bringing all themes together.