Composers battle for the final in series of four summer concerts

Rothbury Music Festival'Alistair Anderson
Rothbury Music Festival'Alistair Anderson

Three finalists have been announced in the national composers competition, organised by the Alwinton concert series.

Opening this year’s concert series on Saturday, May 7, will be all three finalists, musical hero Kathryn Tickell and her new band The Side.

The challenge was to compose a short piece of music specifically for the instruments played by Kathryn and the band – the folk fiddle/Northumbrian pipes, piano accordion, Scottish Lever Harp and cello.

The brief was to engage with the musical tradition from which Kathryn Tickell and The Side take their inspiration – the folk-music tradition of the British Isles.

More than 20 entries were received from all over the UK and the three finalists – High Aldons by Ian Lawson; A Loose Canon by Phil Taylor and Gather Here by Helen Walker –represent a strong and diverse response to the brief.

The finals will be held at St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Alwinton, on the Saturday at 2pm when Kathryn Tickell and The Side will rehearse each of the pieces in a public workshop.

John Casken

John Casken

Kathryn and her fellow judges Alwinton Concert Series’ Artistic Director John Casken and musical catalyst Alistair Anderson will choose the winning entry, which will then be performed at Kathryn’s concert at 7.30pm that evening. The winner will also win £500.

John Casken said “The afternoon’s free workshop which will not only demonstrate expert musicianship but will give a fascinating insight into rehearsal and interpretive processes.”

Ian Lawson is a composer, record producer and recording studio owner. He’s also one half of the TV and film music writing partnership Heneghan and Lawson - responsible for the music of many well-known animation series including Fireman Sam.

His orchestral work has been performed by the Hallé, BBC NOW, and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera.

Phil Taylor lives in Leeds and plays clarinet, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano and has played with the Northern Wagner Orchestra, CoMA Leeds, Leeds Haydn Players, the Halifax Symphony Orchestra and chamber groups in the Leeds area.

Lancastrian Helen Walker is a musician, composer, songwriter, recording artist and record producer. Her music is inspired by the British countryside and nature including settings of Shakespeare’s ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and James Hogg’s ‘The Skylark’.

For more, see