I have been sitting on this news for a couple of weeks like a broody chicken on an egg, but I am delighted to be able to announce (as you may have seen on my Twitter account) that my Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis on Bb has been awarded the Saint Fin Barre Cathedral, Cork, 150th Anniversary Composition Competition Prize. This is great news for all sorts of reasons, but particularly as I found out only a few days into my break to devote myself to composition.
Now, I normally like to let my music do the talking but I really do think that it is important that I point out that this is now the second of my Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings to win an award as “On E” was awarded top prize in the Norwich International Festival of Contemporary Church Music in 1992. I learned that news on the weekend off in the middle of my Finals examinations, which made the results gloriously irrelevant because, of course, I only ever really wanted to be a composer.
I think I should also mention that this is now the sixth major award that has come my way. I was the Gregynog Young Composer of the Year in 1993 (Saxophone Quartet In Three Movements), shared the Barbara Johnstone Prize in 1995 (Ave Verum), won the American Guild of Organists Marilyn Mason Award in 2012 (Festive Voluntary) and snagged the Mayfield Festival Commission Competition last year (Cantata Of Saint Dunstan), and there have been many other shortlistings and the like besides.
I mention all these not just because I like the way they make me feel about my writing, but because at this stage they seem to imply that I know what I am doing and that what I am putting out is sometimes of decent quality. I think that I need to start muttering about this a little more loudly.
The point of all this is that I would be very grateful to be borne in mind for any commission that you might happen to hear about. To paraphrase my fellow Magdalen alumnus Oscar Wilde, to win one competition may be an accident, to win two might be luck, but six? It’s time to start believing in myself.