Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And the Award Goes To... ME

Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: 0
Reading: John Lanchester's Fragrant Harbour
Hair Day: just like Tansy Davies', apparently...
Things I Can See From My Flat Window No. 5: a snow-bespeckled wonderland

Last night saw the British Composer Awards in the shadow of St. Paul's; I trudged through the slush in full-on outdoor walking gear, dashed into the loos of the Stationers' Hall to reappear,  superhero-like, as Glam Composer Girl nominated in the Making Music category for community-commissioned composition. In illustrious company such as Thomas Ades, Howard Skempton, Rolf Hind, Michael Finnissy, Sally Beamish et al, I was one of the much-trumpeted newish composers with the double whammy of being both a) 33 or under (phew, just) and b) a GIRL. Bonus! What they didn't parp on about so much was the wonderful plethora of composers with different ethnic backgrounds, due to the company being almost exclusively WHITE.  Hhm, rather a long and more important way to go there, then. Still, a fairly unknown quantity I was, except to the person in the cloakroom who exclaimed brightly to the back of my head 'hello Tansy!'. Ahem. It probably IS confusing that there are two female composers in their 30s with mad real short haircuts. I spent the next half an hour wondering if anyone who looked my way was thinking 'Ooo, is that Tansy Davies?' before realising it was someone far less important and turning back to their champagne. Hur hur.

As much as I'd just been excited about the free bubbles and general hobnobbery, it was hard not to harbour and mould, as the awards went on, a small nugget of hope that I could actually win my category. Particularly as Peter Broadbent, the conductor of the Joyful Company of Singers who had commissioned my piece Fall had introduced me to a judge as 'Kerry has won- I mean, been nominated for -' etc. We had a heartfelt speech about the value of the arts from Jude Kelly of the South Bank, before the likes of Raymond Yiu, Cheryl Frances-Hoad (getting two awards), Sasha Siem, Ryan Wigglesworth and others won their categories. I was crossing my fingers for James Redwood and Jack Ross, of Firefly fame, to win the Community and Education Award but alas, it wasn't to be. I managed to miss the most memorable speech of the night (James Hamilton - Contemporary Jazz Composition: 'I haven't had a poo for a week')  by being in the Ladies' wondering if saying 'wicked and chris' in my speech would be too  much.

Finally it was my turn: up with Ian Farrington and John McLeod, there was a brief spiel from the presenters for the night, Radio 3's Sarah Mohr-Pietsch and Andrew McGregor, during which my heart started hammering on my breastplate like a particularly fervent Jehovah's Witness. So extreme was its palpitations, that as my name was called out (YESYESYES!) I managed to get onto the stage before it burst through, John Hurt in Alien-style, and slathered bloodily onto the stage for the handshake and photo opp. Andy and I had joked about me using my spotlit moment to a) give a two-fingered, anarchistic speech about STICKING IT TO THE MAN b) speaking only in aforementioned The Wire quotes ('either you in the game, or you out, you feel? In-deed' etc) or just c) standing there for 5 minutes giving the Black Power salute, but of course in the end I just smiled sweetly, stumbled slightly over a word or two and made my thanks to Peter, Robin Robertson my poet, and 'my spectacularly lovely husband Andy'. 

Post-ceremony was a whirlwind of congrats, photos and Radio 3 interview. I met the MPA/Making Music head honchos (who will be commissioning me to write a new choral piece next year off the back of this award) then tackled the assault course of people wanting to shake hands and give me their business cards as I fought my way to the bowl-food and wine. It was brilliant fun and is partway to my aged-14 dream of winning an Oscar for best score... hurrah!

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