A work that causes people to be culled in a darkly dystopian world has won the 5th European Composers Competition in Rotterdam.
The brilliantly crepuscular composition from the pen of 32 year old English composer Paul McGhee claimed the 3000 Euro first prize, after he beat off the challenge of a trio of talented rivals at the De Doelen Hall on Thursday evening.
Entitled ‘Lullaby’, the work takes its inspiration from the horror satire novel of the same name by the American writer Chuck Palahniuk, which sees a vivid recitation of a poem imbue it with the malevolant ability to cull the people to whom it is read — men, women and children.
Regarded as a highly influential novel it was nominated for a Bram Stoker publishing award in 2002.
Despite the downbeat outcome of the original book, there was nothing but celebration to be found in the air at the conclusion of the results ceremony on Thursday after Paul was read out as the winner.
"I’m delighted but totally surprised," he told 4BR. "It’s a work that does have a very dark heart, but I believe it's an uplifting story in many ways."
On a night when four highly talented compositional voices were heard by an appreciative audience, Paul’s work caught the fancy of the international panel of judges, which included Philip Sparke, Oliver Waespi and Ed de Boer, who has written the set test for the Championship Section contest at this year’s event.
..the work takes its inspiration from the horror satire novel of the same name by the American writer Chuck Palahniuk, which sees a vivid recitation of a poem imbued with the ability to cull the people to whom it is read4BR
However, the panel also revealed that they were not all in agreement in their choice of winner – although they were agreed that the overall standard this year was excellent.
In a keenly fought contest, it was the Swede, Joel Engstrom who was declared runner up, and in the process won 2,000 Euros for his pulsating composition entitled, ‘Impact’.
Welsh representative Tom Davoren was placed third with his intriguing musical self portrait, ‘Looking In, a Self Portrait for Brass Band’ which won him 500 Euros, whilst the audience prize of 500 Euros plus another 500 Euros for coming fourth, went to Marc Jeanbourguin of Switzerland with his kaleidoscopic, ‘Red Mountain.’
With both Brass Band Rijnmond and Brass Band Groningen providing excellent performances of all four works, and with LSO Principal Trumpet, Philip Cobb on simply sensational form as guest soloist, the event provided the championships with a highly enjoyable aperitif before the main competitive action on Friday afternoon.
Nobody celebrated quite like Paul McGhee though, watched with admiration by his partner and award winning composer Lucy Pankhurst.
They had hired a barge in Rotterdam harbour with fellow finalist Tom Davoren to stay for the festival – so as Paul later told 4BR, "When we get back there, we’ll make sure it will be rocking..."
Further live coverage plus video interview can be found at:
1. Paul McGhee (England) — Lullaby
2. Joe Engstrom (Sweden) — Impact
3. Tom Davoren (Wales) — Looking In, a Self Portrait for Brass Band
4. Marc Jeanbourguin (Switzerland) — Red Mountain
Audience vote: Marc Jeanbourguin