Toru Takemitsu Composition Award

4 Finalists selected for Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2020
[Judge: Thomas Adès]

4 Dec, 2019

Thomas Adès, judge of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2020, has chosen the following 4 orchestral works out of 93 entries from 32 countries (Countries & Regions) eligibly accepted by 30 September 2019. Screening was done with the anonymous scores having only their titles.
These 4 nominated works will be performed on 19 January 2021 (Rescheduled from 31 May 2020) at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall : Takemitsu Memorial for Mr. Adès’s final judgement. Here is the list of finalists in order of their entry.

Applications for 2020(PDF/134KB)

Year 2020 Thomas Adès (UK)
© Brian Voce

Finalists (in order of entry)

Xinyang Wang (China)

BORÉAS for orchestra

Born in Guangyuan City, Sichuan Province, China in 1989. He is a composer of classical music, currently based in Pittsburgh, USA. Holding a bachelor's degree from Sichuan Conservatory of Music and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music both major in music composition and theory, he is completing his Ph. D. in the same area at the University of Pittsburgh.
He takes inspiration from a broad spectrum of influences, such as traditional Chinese arts and its Western counterpart. He is awarded prizes in composition and has worked with eminent interpreters.

Francisco Domínguez (Spain)


Born in Alcolea de Calatrava, Spain in 1993. He studied composition with Gabriel Erkoreka at Musikene, where he finished his Bachelor degree with an honorific mention. Afterwards he continued his studies with Beat Furrer and Klaus Lang at the Kunstuniversität Graz. He also had classes and masterclasses with Helmut Lachenmann, Ramon Lazkano, Héctor Parra, and Rebecca Saunders, among others. He has been awarded numerous prestigious international prizes, and in 2016 he participated in the Academy of the Foundation Peter Eötvös, where he received classes from Peter Eötvös and Toshio Hosokawa. In the same year he was selected by Peter Eötvös to participate in the Gargonza Arts Artistic Residence.

David Roche (UK)

SIX PRAYERS for orchestra

Born in Tredegar in South Wales, UK in 1990. He has composed pieces for vacuum cleaners and orchestra, epic planetarium shows, customised Dutch street organs, rock bands, video games, films, theatre shows, international orchestras, and anything beyond and in between. His music tends to inhabit one of two worlds. It is either celebratory and bright, consciously in opposition to the world in which it was written, or manic, detailed, and violent in response to the poverty and politics of our time. Roche’s compositions have been broadcast, televised, written about, and performed internationally to millions of people. He is the recipient of over 30 academic and professional awards.

© Tim Hillel

Carmen Ho (UK/Hong Kong)

Saṃsāra for large orchestra

Born in Hong Kong, China in 1990. She is a composer of orchestral, instrumental and choral music. She was the Winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in 2018. She has worked with musicians such as BBC Singers, Bristol Ensemble, Bristol University Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 360, Ensemble Variances, Kokoro ensemble and Ensemble Musikfabrik. She has participated in the Summer School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (2016), Kyiv Contemporary Music Days (2016), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Composers' Day (2017 & 2019), Bristol New Music (2018) and Takefu International Composition Workshop (2019). She studied for her BA at Hull University and she has completed an MA and a PhD in composition at Bristol University, under the supervision of Professor John Pickard. Her new orchestral work will be workshopped and performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as part of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Composers’ Scheme 2019/20.

Comments for the Final / as a single judge
for the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2020

I am delighted to present my selection of four finalists for the concert. They are:

BORÉAS for orchestra
SIX PRAYERS for orchestra
Saṃsāra for large orchestra

Any such process of comparative selection in art is inevitably highly personal. I have tried to keep my aesthetic taste out of it as far as possible; but I did follow my preference for a balance between personal expression and practical imagination, between freedom and precision, between ambition and a rounded experience, in whatever idiom the piece was in. In these inexpressible things I believe artistry can be found. In the interplay and control of these tensions is where the music takes life.

One aesthetic dominated most of the entries: around eighty of the scores were in a similar vein, where it might be said that sonic or onomatopoeic effects were favoured over musical substance. Musical substance may be identifiable within every different form or style; however, it is always clear to me when it is absent, or too deeply buried to survive. A piece may be dead for any number of reasons: often because it is merely an imitation of an existing surface, whether a straight pastiche of, say, Beethoven (of which one was submitted), or a reproduction of empty orchestral effects held together by little more than a descriptive title (of which there were dozens).

It was my judgement that the four pieces selected, which are in a relatively wide range of harmonic and expressive idioms, all reach a level where I was able to detect the composer's artistry and skill beyond the mere realization of a simple goal, and their dawning recognition that the art of composition is an endless process of listening and learning beyond one's own limits, to the music itself.

With pleasure, here are my comments on each of the four pieces.

BORÉAS balances an onomatopoeic soundworld with a delicate harmonic sophistication and witty, imaginative, capricious orchestration.

POÈMES DE MIDI achieves a strong, forceful and striking personal expression in a densely and accurately imagined orchestral texture.

SIX PRAYERS bravely uses unusually specific melodic material in an excitingly direct way, with passages of intense expressive power.

Saṃsāra is a precise miniature landscape, creating a real sense of journey with a delicate, refined harmonic sense and orchestral sensitivity.

Thomas Adès

Final Concert

19 January, 2021 [Tue] 18:30
(Rescheduled from 31 May 2020 [Sun] 15:00)
Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall: Takemitsu Memorial

Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2020: Final Concert

Thomas Adès, judge
Yoichi Sugiyama, conductor
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

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