DMU composers win prestigious international prizes

Two celebrated composers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have won prestigious prizes at international music and audiovisual festivals.

John Young, Professor of Composition at the MTI², was awarded the inaugural Francis-Dhomont Prize at the 2022 Akousma Festival in Montreal.


Professor John Young won a top prize in Montreal

While Bret Battey, Professor of Audiovisual Composition at DMU’s Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI²), saw his latest audiovisual composition Estuaries 4 win the “Best Music (Europe) Award” from the International Computer Music Association.

Professor Battey was also awarded the “Best Video” prize for Estuaries 4 at MuVi6, an event in Spain involving artists, musicians, designers and performers from around the world.


 Professor Bret Battey's audio visual composition has won two prizes

Professor Young's work—Le Chant en Dehors—was created in the MTI² Diffusion Studio. He then spent four days in McGill University, Montreal, rehearsing before performing live using a system made up of 64 loud speakers.

Professor Young said: “Montreal is something of a world centre for electronic music so it is really exciting to have won this award.

“I suppose the compositions are niche in a way but you do not deliberately set out to make music that is niche or arcane or intellectualised for people to understand.

“It is just about exposure. If people come to listen they should have an experience that means something to them. I want to reach out and move people using ideas that are original and innovative.

“The whole process of working with something you have created and then putting it into a space containing 64 loud speakers was really interesting.

“I worked in a rehearsal space with other composers around me prior to performing live and that made it interesting. There was a sense of camaraderie and it was a great experience to talk to each other and see the different ways we work.

“Performing the piece live did make me slightly apprehensive as there is one set back when performing electronic music and that is if the equipment fails and you have to start over. I suppose it is a bit like violinist breaking a string. But everything was fine and it is wonderful to have won.”

Professor Battey’s work melds music, mathematics and abstract art to create compositions and was judged the best out of 362 works submitted to the International Computer Music Association’s annual conference  at the University of Limerick. 

Professor Battey's audiovisual composition Estuaries 4

He said: “Visual music is a technique that is a little over a century old and works on the idea that we can shape the moving image in the same way that we can shape music.

“The abstract art movement was exploring the idea that painting could function more like music. They are two very different disciplines but the most familiar we are of this is music and cinema.

“Traditionally we think of the music as an add on but in reality it helps establish how we explore the film. What you see also affects what you hear.”

Professor Battey is currently looking at gaming engines as a means of creating audio visual art and live music performance.

You can find out more about MTI² and its work here

Posted on: Tuesday 22 November 2022

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