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Black Dahlia murder inspires A4 success

Cornish composer Daniel Hall's investigation into the psychological make up of the unknown killer in the infamous 'Black Dahlia' case brings him A4 Brass Quartet composition success.

  The infamous 1947 murder still retains a strong hold on the imagination in America

A musical retelling of one of the most gruesome murders in post war America history has won the inaugural A4 Brass Quartet composition competition.

Daniel Hall's sinister take on the infamous 'Black Dahlia' case — the unresolved 1947 murder of 22 year old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short (above) in Los Angeles, claimed the £350 first prize against a strong field of entries from all around the globe.

Unknown killer

The gifted young Cornish composer was inspired by the tale after playing a video game called 'LA Noire' at his girlfriend's house, and wanting to try and recreate the thoughts and actions of the unknown killer as he commits and lives with the immediate aftermath of his crime.

"Yes — it's light-hearted stuff," he laughed nervously as he told 4BR about the four and half minute work. "It's a terrible tale, but it has also inspired so many books and films.

It's a very disturbing story that still captures the imagination, so I thought I would try to create a short retelling from the killer's perspective. Knowing the talents of the quartet it's very difficult — but I hope they enjoy the challenge of trying to resolve my take on the case!"

Worldwide response

The competition was judged in partnership with David Horne, the renowned composer and head of the RNCM's International Artist Diploma (a scheme which the A4 Brass Quartet currently fly the flag for), and euphonium virtuoso, conductor and Head of Brass Band Studies, Dr David Thornton.

Coincidentally, this is the second time Daniel has found competitive success in writing for the group, after winning the 2016 John Golland Trust Composition Award at the RNCM Festival of Brass with a work entitled 'The Rite of Marie Laveua', in which entrants were asked to compose works for the quartet.

In keeping with the international scope of the competition, the runner-up prize went to Jared McCunnie, a talented young Australian composer and tuba player currently enjoying his time at Salford University, with a melancholic take on current world affairs entitled 'Just Cause'.

It's a story that still captures the imagination, so I thought I would try to create a short retelling from the killer's perspectiveComposer, Daniel Hall

Fantasy winner

With both prize-winners both under the age of 24, the separate under-24 prize designed to encourage a new generation of writers to take up writing for brass instruments went to Toby Carswell, a composition student at Trinity College, London for a characteristic work simply entitled 'Fantasy'.

All of the award winning works will be performed by the group in concerts across their 2018/2019 season, and also will be recorded by the group later in the year.


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