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Anna Disley-Simpson wins competition to be 2019/20 five15 composer in residence

23-year-old Anna Disley-Simpson from Manchester announced as winner of the competition and becomes five15 composer in residence for the 2019/20 season

  • Winner chosen from four finalists at London concert on Sunday 30th June

  • Judges included composer Cecilia McDowall, conductor Suzi Digby and Tim Brooke from Faber Music

The London Oriana Choir has announced that Anna Disley-Simpson (23) from Manchester is the winner of its competition aimed at 18-25-year old women to find its next female composer in residence, as part of its five15 project in support of women composers.

The four short-listed finalists all had their pieces performed by the choir at its end-of-season concert at the Stationers’ Hall in London on Sunday 30th June. (Photos from the concert here). Anna will now be commissioned to write two five-minute pieces for unaccompanied choir and one ten-minute piece with orchestral accompaniment to be delivered over the year and to have those pieces performed in public by the choir during its 2019/20 season.

The three other finalists were Lillie Harris, Shruthi Rajasekar and Anna Ho.

Dominic Ellis-Peckham, musical director of the London Oriana Choir and chair of the judging panel, said: “We would like to thank all the young composers who took part in our competition for their originality, skill and enthusiasm. It is very refreshing to see how much talent is flourishing in the next generation of women composers. The choir is looking forward to working with Anna and to performing her music in the coming year. Her word setting and harmonic colours are enticing and her voicing very sensitive.”

Anna’s winning entry “In Their Gold Coats” featured text drawn from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She said: “My contrasting backgrounds in both choral and popular music feed intrinsically into my compositions. In my choral works, I love to explore harmony and I feel like oftentimes this is the place from which my individual compositional ‘voice’ stems.”

A previous student of the Purcell School, Anna is in her final undergraduate year at the Royal Northern College of Music studying Composition with Dr Laura Bowler and has written works for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, the RNCM Symphony Orchestra, the RNCM Chamber Choir, the No Dice Collective, and the BBC Singers. Prior to starting her degree, she was a composer with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Figures such as Kerry Andrew, Nico Muhly, Imogen Heap, and Bjork have fuelled her fascination with blurring the lines between the genres, including working with multimedia and theatrics. Anna is also an avid singer performing with many professional choirs around Manchester alongside her studies. Later in 2019, Anna is releasing a podcast under the name Sister Sounds which aims to celebrate women composers, songwriters, and producers, interviewing various guests about their work as well as discussing the current contemporary music landscape.

Entrants were asked to submit a piece of mixed-voice choral music up to five minutes long, with entries judged by a panel of industry luminaries which included composer Cecilia McDowall, conductor and educationalist Suzi Digby, Tim Brooke, head of Repertoire Development at Faber Music Ltd and Dominic Ellis-Peckham. The four finalists had the chance to work with the choir to refine their piece before the final judging.

Picture: Anna Disley-Simpson is presented with her certificate by outgoing five15 composer in residence Jessica Curry [credit: Kathleen Holman]

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