THE MARY RYAN COMPOSITION AWARD
In 2007 the Society received a bequest from the estate of Mary Ryan, with no stipulation on its use. The committee discussed many possible uses for it. We were sure of two things:
- It should benefit the members of the Society
- It should benefit young people
There are already many awards available to young performers, and a few available to young composers. But we felt that a new type of scheme was needed, in which young composers and performers would be rewarded for working together. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama agreed to work with us for the benefit of their students and fellows.
The winning composer is commissioned to write a new piece for the Richmond Concert Society in collaboration with an ensemble of Guildhall School fellows. The composer and performers are paid from the Mary Ryan legacy. Besides the financial benefit they gain experience presenting a new work to the RCS audience.
Each autumn the Guildhall School solicits applications from composers. Each application includes scores of three previous compositions, and recordings of at least two of them. The composer submits the application knowing which Guildhall performing ensemble he/she would work with.
A panel of judges reviews the applications. The award is given to one composer based on their previous work.
The composer writes a new piece of about ten minutes’ duration, and works with the performers to devise a well-rounded programme of about 40 minutes of music. This is performed following the RCS Annual General Meeting in July.
We receive several applications per year, which indicates that the young composers are very interested in the opportunity we provide. Risk-taking is an integral part of creative work, and there’s been the expected variety of opinions within the RCS audience, but composers who have won the award have gone on to prove their abilities in additional ways; one has been signed on with a major publisher and received commissions in other countries, for example. And the RCS audience has been delighted with the young performers.
We’re grateful to Mary Ryan for having made all this possible.