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Fellowship Update: Undergraduate student wins composition award


Shuyu Chen, a student in the School of Music, has been awarded a composition prize, jointly by the School and the Berlin-based new music ensemble, Ensemble Adapter.

Martin Iddon, Mic Spencer, and Scott McLaughlin are engaged in the LITE-funded project, ‘Teaching Musical Composition in the Twenty-First Century’, which aims to embed professional practice in composition teaching. Students write music as if for a real-world commission, and for a real-world ensemble, with whom they have contact during the module, in this case the German-Icelandic Ensemble Adapter.

Alongside ‘regular’ assessment, composition staff and ensemble members judged student submissions using the same criteria Ensemble Adapter use for their regular ‘Adoptions’ competition: the idea must be clear, the notation detailed, the piece look like it would be fun for the ensemble to work on and develop, and it must speak to the players. Shuyu’s piece, I am afraid, met all these criteria, imagining a complex set of romantic relationships between the players of the ensemble, which they work through (or don’t!) across the course of the piece.

The ensemble’s harpist, Gunnhildur Einarsdóttir, said the piece had “a clear idea, clear score, precise indications” and that the ensemble had enjoyed the narrative behind the music. Shuyu commented: “I am thrilled to hear that Ensemble Adapter liked my composition. It is an honour for me to win the prize; this experience truly motivated me to pursue a career as a composer.”