The Ivors Classical Awards 2023: celebrating creative excellence

The Ivors Academy have today [18 October] announced the 34 composers who have been nominated for an Ivor Novello Award as part of The Ivors Classical Awards 2023, celebrating the best new classical music and sound art.  The Ivors Classical Awards take place on 14 November at BFI Southbank in London, where 11 Ivor Novello Awards will be presented to eight category winners and three Gift of the Academy award winners.  One of the Gift of the Academy Awards goes to John Rutter CBE who will be awarded the prestigious Academy Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by The Ivors Academy.  BBC Radio 3 will broadcast the ceremony on 18 November in a special edition of the New Music Show and the episode will also be available on BBC Sounds. The Ivors Classical Awards are supported by PRS for Music.

  • 36 works nominated for an Ivor Novello Award across 8 categories
  • Thomas Adès, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Joby Talbot amongst those nominated
  • Brett Dean, Brian Irvine and Hannah Kendall are each nominated twice
  • Nearly half of the shortlist are first-time nominees, including Jasdeep Singh Degun,
  • Simon Knighton, Angela Elizabeth Slater and Dobrinka Tabakova

BBC Radio 3 presenters Hannah Peel and Tom Service will host the awards ceremony on 14 November from BFI Southbank, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show and on BBC Sounds on 18 November at 10pm

The opera works nominated this year include Brian Irvine (for Least Like The Other: Searching for Rosemary Kennedy, centred around JFK’s sister’s lobotomy AND The Scorched Earth Trilogy, three projected street art operas); Jasdeep Singh Degun (for Orpheus, an opera for Indian classical continuo and Baroque orchestra reinventing the ancient story of Orpheus and Eurydice), and Tom Coult (for Violet, a one-act opera telling the story of a village where time starts to disappear, hour by hour).

Tom Gray, Chair of The Ivors Academy said, “The Ivors Classical Awards celebrate the very best new compositions and this year’s nominations are no exception. From first-time nominees to Ivor Novello Award winning composers, the shortlist showcases a remarkable diversity of talent and creativity, reflecting the vibrancy and innovation of contemporary classical music. Judged by composers from The Ivors Academy, each Ivor Novello Award symbolises the respect and appreciation music creators have for each other. I look forward to celebrating with the nominees and winners on 14 November.”

Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO, PRS for Music, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with The Ivors Academy for these prestigious awards which see 34 remarkable composers and sound artists nominated – talented individuals who will no doubt shape the musical landscape of the classical industry in the UK. For the first time, music publishers also receive greater recognition and credit for their continued belief and support in the contemporary classical community. Congratulations to all the nominees, we look forward to celebrating with you at the ceremony in November.”

Sam Jackson, BBC Radio 3 Controller said: “We are thrilled to be the broadcast partner for The Ivors Classical Awards once more, supporting the creative endeavours of some of the best talent in classical music and sound art – and demonstrating BBC Radio 3’s commitment to new music. We congratulate all the nominees, and look forward to sharing this celebration of the UK’s vibrant music scene with our diverse audience.”

Poetry plays an important role in some of the nominated pieces, including Thomas Adès’ Növények which is a setting of seven poems by four Hungarian poets, Omri Kochavi’s Kishtatos | קישתתוס which features a new text by Israeli poet Amira Hess and Naomi Pinnock’s Landscape takes inspiration from Louise Glück’s set of five poems. Similarly,Elliptics by Emily Howard is a setting of a poem with the same name by Michael Symmons Roberts, and Comme l’espoir/you might all disappear by Josephine Stephenson is based on a short French poem by Antoine Thiollier. Scientific literature is also linked to some of the nominated works, with Brett Dean’s In This Brief Moment using The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin as a starting point, and Newton Armstrong was influenced by Rachel Carson’s In The Sea Around Us for his work The Book of the Sediments.

In addition to the winners of the eight nominated categories, three Gift of the Academy awards recognising sustained contributions to music will be presented on the night. John Rutter CBE will be presented with the prestigious Academy Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by The Ivors Academy, in recognition of his excellence and impact in the art and craft of music creation. The recipients of the Ivor Novello Awards for Outstanding Works Collection and Innovation will be revealed on the night.

Nearly all of the nominated works were commissioned, highlighting the importance of the commissioning process through orchestras, festivals, venues and funding organisations, all of which play a pivotal role in the future of new music. Commissioners of this year’s nominated works include Britten Pears Arts, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Proms, Irish National Opera, Opera North, Music Theatre Wales, West Sussex Music, Nonclassical, Southbank Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra and many more.

This is the first year that The Ivors Academy has presented The Ivors Classical Awards to celebrate the best new classical music and sound art by British, Irish or UK resident composers. Previously known as The Ivors Composer Awards, they were established in 2003 as the British Composer Awards.