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Pankhurst wins British Composer Award

Lucy Pankhurst has created a unique piece of brass band history by winning a prestigious British Composer Award.



Composer Lucy Pankhurst has created a unique piece of brass band history, by winning a 2011 British Composer Award at the prestigious ceremony held at Stationers’ Hall in London on Wednesday evening.

In Pitch Black

Her atmospheric work, ‘In Pitch Black’ which commemorates the tragic Pretoria Pit Disaster of 21st December 1910, at Hulton Colliery, Westhoughton, close to the home of the Wingates Band—members of which were killed in a disaster that claimed 344 lives, won the Wind Band & Brass Band category—the first time ever that a work for brass has taken the award since its inception in 2003.

Cloud nine

Understandably, Lucy was still on cloud nine when she spoke to 4BR, as she started to finally enjoy the feeling of creating brass banding history, and joining a formidable list of former winners that include internationally renowned composers Adam Gorb, Philip Grange and Andy Scott.

"It’s amazing—although still a bit surreal," she modestly said. "I can’t still quite believe it. It hasn’t really sunk in yet."

Great and good

Sponsored by the Performing Rights Society and presented in association with BBC Radio 3, the great and good of the British compositional world sat back as Lucy’s name was read out accompanied by her image projected onto a large multi media screen with other nominees, Tom Davoren and Emily Howard for their works, ‘Looking In’ and ‘Obsidian’.

Moments later her name was read out, and she was presented with a framed certificate to commemorate her achievement.


"It was a bit like the Oscars," Lucy laughed. "I had to give a little thank you speech and about 30 seconds of the work was played to the audience. I just wasn’t expecting it, but the response from all the other composers on the night was amazing. I was later told it was the first time a brass band work had won, so that makes it even more special."

Lucy is hopeful that the award will not only lead to ‘In Pitch Black’ to be performed more regularly in concert, but will help raise the profile of contemporary brass band music too.

The British Composer Awards juries are consistently looking for contemporary classical music which shows flair, originality and power of communicationSarah Rodgers, Chairman of BASCA

Great talent

"I played on the original recording with Wingates for the CD release, but haven’t yet heard it as a live performance. Hopefully that will take place in the near future as it is such a powerful and emotional work that is very special to me."

New work

In the meantime, Lucy’s new composition ‘Petrichor’ will be premiered at the RNCM Festival of Brass in January, whilst she is also putting the finishing touches to a flute trio.

"Petrichor is inspired by the smell of the earth after it has rained, and is in one continuous movement of around nine minutes in length," she said.

"It's been written for the RNCM Brass Band to play as part of my prize in winning the John Golland Festival Award last year."


The quality and importance of the award to Lucy was summed up by Sarah Rodgers, Chairman of BASCA and Chair of the British Composer Awards.

"The British Composer Awards juries are consistently looking for contemporary classical music which shows flair, originality and power of communication."

The awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in ‘Sunday Concert’ on December 4th from 2pm.

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