No winner for the Musicians' Medal

9 August 2017

Tonight, it was announced that there was no winner for the Musicians’ Medal at the Anglesey National Eisteddfod.

The judges this year were Geraint Cynan, Branwen Gwyn and Philip Harper, and the task was to compose a piece for brass band on the theme of astronomy, planets and / or space that was no longer than seven minutes.

The prize was the Musician's Medal (Welsh Music Guild) and £750 (the Royal Astronomical Society) and a £2,000 Scholarship, donated by The Royal Astronomical Society to promote the career of the winning composer.

There were nine entries for the Medal, and when delivering the adjudication on stage on behalf of his fellow judges, Geraint Cynan said, "We as judges were hopeful that the theme of 'astronomy - the stars, the planets and space' would offer composers opportunities to inspire and challenge and we were expecting to hear imaginative responses to the task set.

"There have been some moments within pieces where the composers engaged their creativity to develop imaginative responses to the task. At times an effective otherwordly atmosphere and texture was created, and there were several touches of more conventional musical idiomes that are characteristic of film scores.

"It's no small task to compose a piece for a brass band and one of the biggest challenges is scoring. A few composers showed a good awareness of scoring and purposeful instrumentation was used that provided the challenge and interest required when composing for amateur musicians.

"But, above all, there were consistent shortcomings in composing techniques in each of the entriles. In the compositions that used sequencing, it would have been good to see more awareness of consecutive fifths and the basic rules of harmony. I would have expected to see more control of the overall structure and balance of the pieces, and more refinement and development of thematic and creative ideas. These can be studied and investigated in reference books that discuss composing techniques.

"The main disappointment of the three of us is to note that we did not have any pieces that, in our opinion, merit to be awarded the prize this year. The unanimous decision of the three of us is that the success threshold has not been crossed and as such we have decided to withhold this year's prize. BUT, we emphasize that this result should not be used to undermine the importance of the competition. The three of us believe that this is a blip - one year where, for some reason the candidates have not been inspired, and we are confident that the competition will go from strength to strength in future years. "

The Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau includes the full adjudication for this competition and the winners of all the other composition competitions at the Eisteedfod.  The volume si published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The Anglesey National Eisteddfod is held in Bodedern until 12 August. For more information go to www.eisteddfod.wales.