Toru Takemitsu Composition Award

4 Finalists selected for Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2018
[Judge: Unsuk Chin]

4 Dec, 2017

Unsuk Chin, judge of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2018, has chosen the following 4 orchestral works out of 143 entries from 40 countries eligibly accepted by 29 September 2017. Screening was done with the anonymous scores having only their titles.
These 4 nominated works will be performed on 27 May 2018 at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall : Takemitsu Memorial for Ms. Chin’s final judgement. Here is the list of finalists in order of their entry.

Applications for 2018(PDF/191KB)

Year 2018 Unsuk Chin (Korea)
© Eric Richmond / Arena PAL

Finalists (in order of entry)

Barnaby Martin (UK)

Quanta for Large Orchestra

Born in Norfolk, UK in 1991. He is a graduate from Trinity College, Cambridge whose music has been performed across the UK and internationally by amateur and professional groups alike. Success in competitions has led to a variety of performance of his music by ensembles such as the Orchestra of Opera North, St Paul's Cathedral Choir, the Berkeley Ensemble, the Psappha ensemble and the Ligeti Quartet. In 2017, his 45-minute cantata, The Temptations of Christ, was premiered by Illuminare choir and soloists conducted by Christopher Stark. This particular piece has been nominated in the choral category of the 2017 BASCA British Composer Awards.

Photo: George Naylor

Lukas Hövelmann-Köper (Germany)

Quantum Vacuum for orchestra

Born in Kassel, Germany in 1989. He has been an active musician since his 16 years of age and a autodidact composer since 2013. He won many prizes, most recently the international "Indonesia Orchestra and Ensemble Prize" for his first orchestral piece "Aku Mau Hidup Seibu Tahun Lagi". He received piano lessons from Uwe Volkmer, guitar and composition lessons with Jürgen Fromm. He also participated in various composing courses, held by composer Prof. Brice Pauset, Prof. Diego Feinstein and Cornelius Schwehr.In February 2017 the musical theater "Hans im Glück", based on the fragment of Bertolt Brecht, was premiered at the Klosterbühne Wennigsen. In March 2017, he received a composition commission for a double wind quintet from the NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts) in Singapore, which will be premiered in the summer 2018. In April 2017, he was selected for the internationally renowned "Swatch Art Peace Hotel" artist residency, which includes a six-month stay in Shanghai.

Photo: Andrew Reid

Bo Li (China)

SLEEPING IN THE WIND for orchestra

Born in Jilin, China in 1988. He is an accomplished composer who has gained extensive recognition for his work through success in several international competitions and music festivals. He is currently pursuing his D.M.A. in the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the U.S.A. In 2017 he was appointed a member of the Executive Board of the China Traditional Instrumental Orchestra Music Society in Beijing. ‘Wen Hua' Gold prize 2011 by ministry of culture of the people's republic of China; Prizes include: the Paul Hindemith Prize 2012; First prize at the ‘Con Tempo' international composition competition 2012; First prize at the 2017 Dr. Gerald Kemner Orchestra Composition Competition; Excellent Composition Award of 2017 Music From China International Composition Prize. His score "Mondlicht-Stadtmaur-Prosadichtung" chamber music for eleven instruments was published by Sikorski Music Publishers, Germany.

Photo: Li Zihe

Paulo Brito (Brazil / USA)

STARING WEI JIE TO DEATH - Symphonic Evocation based on an Episode from Chinese Antiquity for orchestra

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1987. He is composer and pianist. He grew up in the United States, and has also lived in France and Ukraine. His musical training and liberal arts education have taken him to Kiev, Paris, New York, Chicago, and Toronto. Holding a B.A. in Classics from Columbia University and M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, he is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in Composition at the University of Toronto. His path has always been interdisciplinary, and, as a composer, he is drawn to opera as the most intricately cross-disciplinary art-form. In his own projects, he unites different artistic disciplines as well as different cultural traditions, informed by his interest in Chinese music and theater.

Shengyu Wang

Comments for the Final / as a single judge
for the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2018

Out of the 143 submissions, which could stylistically be divided into five different groups, I found 35 scores to be of considerable quality and it was not an easy task to decide on merely four finalists.

The following principles were especially crucial for me: a developed sense of structure and form, craftsmanship, personality, distinct ideas, consistency of style and a capability of writing for symphony orchestra.

While imagination and technical skills were the main criteria, I was also keen to make sure that all four scores would be sufficiently different from each other. As is well known, no common denominator can be defined for the music of our time: hence my hope that this selection could provide at least a slight glimpse of the plurality of compositional styles in the world of contemporary music.

At the end, the following four scores (in entry order) piqued my interested and matched these criteria in particular:


What I was particularly impressed about is the composer's readiness to fearlessly and open-mindedly explore a cornucopia of different compositional approaches. At the same time, the composer is able to command and develop complex structures and to write music that evolves in an organic manner. Full advantage is taken of the potential of the orchestra and the use of orchestral colours makes an immediately striking pictorial impression.

Quantum Vacuum

This work reflects a strong will: one central idea is being rigorously pursued and exploited to the fullest. But despite the work being mathematically structured, the result is not theoretical: the listener is being overwhelmed by masses of sounds which are equally visceral and controlled. The composer does not care about 'traditional' musical parameters; instead, the form in this avant-garde work is being created by different degrees of density.


This is thoroughly musical, colourful and idiomatic orchestral music which has an immediate visual impact. The relation of the stark textural contrasts to the overall structure is convincing. The composer possesses a keen ear, he has full control over what he writes. The use of the orchestra is imaginative and the notation is practical and economic.


This work possesses an almost Webernian compactness: the filigree and transparent textures have been finely tuned, and it contains no unnecessary information. At the same time, however, the music is highly expressive and each movement brings something new. Despite the textures being condensed, the composer succeeds in taking full advantage of the potential of a symphony orchestra.

Unsuk Chin
Berlin, 27th November, 2017

Final Concert

15:00, Sun. 27 May, 2018
Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall: Takemitsu Memorial

Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2018: Final Concert

Unsuk Chin, judge
Yoichi Sugiyama, conductor
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

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