Congratulations to the 2017 Camerata Composition Prize winner, Anthony Esland! His winning entry “Winter” caught the ears of our jury with its lush, romantic harmonies and sensitive text setting. A short excerpt follows, along with comments from the composer.
Excerpt of winning composition
The excerpt recording was provided by the composer.
Comments from the composer:
How did your work on “Winter” begin? What inspired it?
I discovered Walter de la Mare’s poem “Winter” quite by chance. I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for poems to set for SATB choir and he suggested de la Mare’s poetry. I read a book of his collected verse and was immediately taken with the imagery in “Winter”, with its bleak and harsh world; I thought it would lend itself well to word-painting and subtle harmonic movement.
What aspects of the text led you to structure the musical setting as you did?
The text has a chronological timeline, starting with a robin singing alone on a ‘leafless bough’ and ending with the dark gradually drawing in. This narrative seemed to suggest a throughcomposed structure rather than strophic and I therefore tried to tell a story through my music, as de la Mare does with his poem, so that the listener feels as though they’ve been on a journey by the end of the piece. I used divisions for all of the vocal parts at various points to help generate a richer, more sonorous quality, and there are moments in the text, such as ‘on fields in leagues of beauty spread unearthly white’, where I deliberately tried to create an aural impression of a vast landscape.
Your background in Organ and then expanding into scoring for film / TV is interesting. How has that affected your writing style in works like “Winter”?
I trained as an organ scholar at Cambridge University and I’ve worked with numerous choirs of all abilities and ages since my student days, so choral music is in my blood. I’ve branched out into writing music for film and TV over the last few years however and I have a Masters in composing for film and TV from the National Film and Television School in the UK. I think my film and TV composing has given me a looser, more intuitive way of writing than I had previously, but I think the end result is often the same with film and choral music – as a composer you’re always striving to engage the audience and tell a story.
Anthony Esland is a prize-winning composer for stage and screen, writing music across a broad range of styles – from cutting-edge electronica to cinematic orchestral music. He has scored several films, TV shows, documentaries and games in the last few years, recently collaborating with double BAFTA-winning editor, Mark Towns, and Icelandic recording artist and Broadchurch composer, Ólafur Arnalds. Anthony is currently writing his first feature film score and composing tracks for several production music libraries.
Anthony is increasingly in demand as a concert music composer, with several commissions to his name. His music has been performed by ensembles such as the BBC Singers and he has received bursaries from the BBC, the PRS for Music Foundation and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust; he is currently a London Symphony Orchestra Soundhub Associate and Bliss Trust Award holder. Performances of Anthony’s concert music scheduled for 2018 include premieres of a choral piece, a five-movement organ suite, a work for two pianos and a song cycle.
Anthony studied music as an organ scholar at Cambridge University and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; he recently graduated from the National Film and Television School with an MA in Composing for Film and TV.
You can find out more about Anthony’s work by visiting his website: www.anthonyesland.com