The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Jem Finer wins first New Music Award 

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Congratulations to Jem Finer, sound artist and ex-Pogue, on winning the first New Music Award. The prize is a cheque for £50,000, which is to be spent on realising Score for a Hole in the Ground, his 'post-digital' submission piece.

Commiserations also to the two shortlisted finalists, Terry Mann and Craig Vear who - despite the size of the winning pot - get zilch. This seems like a bit of a flaw in the concept of the contest. The idea was - at least implicitly - to set up a Turner or Booker prize for composers, but the important difference between the PRS award and other examples in the other arts is that they are awarded for work already done; the PRS award is for the realisation of a proposed composition. This is, I'm sure, why the shortlist at least was made up of ambitous (read: expensive) sound art works, and not chamber music scores. If you're bidding for a pot of up to £50,000, you want to spend it all, right? The shame about this is that both Terry and Craig's ideas, dreamt up with this financial support in mind, have virtually no chance of ever being realised, and so all their compositional work has been for nought. £50,000 is a very large arts prize - it matches the Man Booker Prize for fiction, but since all shortlisted books get a big kick in sales, the love is spread a bit; the Turner Prize on the other hand is 'only' worth £25,000, and another £5,000 is available for the three runners-up. Again, all four artists also get the immediate benefit of a headlining Tate show in the weeks before the prize announcement. Other than some intangible press coverage, New Music Award nominees still get nothing. This is only the first year of the award though, and hopefully oversights like this can be ironed out. Congratulations again to Jem Finer, whose work will be presented to the public some time before September next year.

More details on the award are at the PRS New Music Award homepage, including Finer's own film presentation of his piece.

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