Finalists Announced: Commonwealth International Composition Award 2020/21

Finalists Announced: Commonwealth International Composition Award 2020/21


We are very pleased to announce that the following young composers have been shortlisted for The Commonwealth International Composition Award 2020/2021 Final. The Grand Final will be live-streamed from the Princess Alexandra Hall, Royal Overseas League on Tuesday 4th May at 5.00pm GMT.  Recordings of all the shortlisted pieces will be released 1 week before the final for an Audience Vote. 

To find out more about the Award, please see The Commonwealth International Composition Award website.

Amelia Wolf – UK

Amelia Wolf is a 17 year old pianist and guitarist living in the UK. She began playing piano at the age of 7, and within the past year has started learning the acoustic guitar. She is currently studying ABRSM Grade 7 Piano. From a young age, she had a passion for the arts, developing a particular interest in music performance, painting, and writing. Only recently did she take a specific interest in composition as another medium in broadening her artistic vision. She is an entirely self-taught composer, utilising nothing but experience, emotion and instinct in the creation of her pieces, alongside the vivid worlds within them. Her first taste of compositional guidance was at the recent Sound and Music Summer School, during which she composed the piece, ‘In the Streets of Stellora’.

Chia Ren Cher – Singapore

Ren Cher found interest in composing music at 11 years old.  His first composition was a violin-yangqin duet which he scribbled using his own notation and he got his brother to perform with him in public.  That prompted him to start learning music theory and then progressed into the study of classical music composition.

By 13 years old, he has composed an outstanding classical work, String Quartet No.1, Colour , comprising four movements of 30 minutes.

He went on to win first prize in composition in United States as well as second prize in Germany.  He is also talented in playing the violin and yangqin.  He was awarded Gold Award for violin solo at the “7th Singapore Performers’ Festival & Chamber Music Competition 2018”, plus multiple first prize awards for violin solo and yangqin solo competitions from 2017 to 2019.  

Ren Cher is also a very experienced orchestral violinist and yangqinist.  He has performed over 50 performances across 8 years in a philharmonic orchestra plus ensembles in major concert halls in Singapore and internationally such as in Vienna, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan.  Ren Cher is also the yangqin section chair of a Chinese orchestra, and has over 8 years of public performance experiences.  In addition, he has conducted string ensembles for public performances.

David Ingham  – UK

David Ingham, 15, lives in Swansea, Wales, and attends Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr. A passionate musician, he has been learning the flute since he was 7, and the harp since he was 10. He regularly competes in the National Urdd Eisteddfod and numerous local competitions, such as the Abertawe Festival for Young Musicians, having won on several occasions. He also enjoys playing in ensembles and orchestras, both within and outside of school. He is currently working towards his ARSM Performance Diploma on both instruments, and studying as a flautist in the Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Although having had an interest in composition for some time, David only seriously took it up in lockdown, thanks to his new-found spare time. Since then, he has been developing and improving his skills with the help of his harp teacher, Nia Keinor Jenkins. While David’s favourite music stems from the Romantic and Impressionistic eras, he is eager to explore new sounds and techniques in order to create something entirely new. He was thrilled to discover that his second serious composition had reached the shortlist of the CICA and is excited for the opportunities this may bring.

Devon Packer – Canada

Devon Packer is a 15 year old pianist who lives in Montréal, Canada. He has  been studying piano at the McGill Conservatory of Music since the age of 5.  His first major performance was at the age of 7 when he debuted as a soloist  with the Orchestre Symphonique de l’Isle playing Haydn’s “Divertimento in C Major”. He has appeared at multiple venues in Canada, Europe, and the United  States. Most recently, he has performed at New York’s prestigious Carnegie  Hall. 

Devon had his first composition published in 2015 called “The Fantastical  World of Camelot”. Since then, he has composed for numerous ensembles,  including a handpicked group of talented soloists, and a string ensemble. Devon  also plays many instruments, including trumpet, trombone, french horn, bass  guitar, and percussion.  He has recently begun exploring the world of acting, appearing on screen as  Ben Stiller’s piano prodigy son in the film Brad’s Status.

Eleanor Inn Rei Shuen – Malaysia 

My name is Eleanor Inn, and I am twelve-years-old, currently studying in Yamaha Music School for Trinity Grade 8. I reside in Malaysia; and have a burning passion for Music, Dance, and Writing. ‘Dear Fate’ is about the family member of a Coronavirus Victim appealing to Fate to spare his loved one’s life. Throughout the composition, the patient goes from being infected, to gradually recovering – leading the family member to gain hope, but in the end, his heart stills. The majority of citizens – especially students – have been very blase about the topic of Coronavirus – constantly joking flippantly about our friends or foes contracting the deadly virus, as we have not been affected personally by it. But this virus is no laughing matter, with over a million deaths and thirty-five million cases worldwide; and probably more, unrecorded. As responsible citizens, we should comply with the rules-and-regulations, remain unrelenting in the measures taken against the virus, and most importantly, go the whole nine yards to guarantee your family’s safety. Best Wishes; I hope you enjoy my creation. 

Falak Suteri – India

Falak Suteri, 15, started her journey to discover music and arts, at a young age. She started with training in Indian classical vocals and then progressed to learn the piano. Through years, her love of music expanded as she started to learn music theory and further explored her skills in piano. In 2019, she achieved a distinction at ABRSM Grade 5 level Music theory.

To cater to her passion of music, she used multiple opportunities in her school. This included performing as a lead singer in the choir and being a key member of the orchestra for multiple years in school’s annual Broadway productions like Matilda, Beauty and the Beast, Wicked, Oliver, and Frozen. Besides this, as a part of her school curriculum, she learned to compose music and particularly got interested in instrumental music. And this led her to compose a few memorable compositions.

However she still has yearning for acquiring more knowledge in music and she would like to further sharpen her skills in the performing arts.

James Brew – Australia

James Brew is a 13-year-old Australian composer and musician who began composing at the age of 8 years and won his first Australian national composition competition at age 10 years with a work for solo piano called ‘Sorrowbird’. At age 11 years, he was privileged to conduct another of his compositions, ‘Starlight’ for strings, piano, recorders and tuned percussion, on the stage of the Sydney Opera House’s concert hall. Most recently, James had the honour of becoming the overall winner of the Commonwealth Resounds 2020 Commonwealth Composition Challenge with his trio for strings named ‘Pan-Xiety’, which captured his impressions of time in coronavirus lockdown and an anxious international mood during the pandemic. The prestigious Rising Stars program at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music admitted James as their first ever composition student and later in 2019 he was a winner of the Australian National ‘Artology – Fanfare’ composition competition with his piece, ‘Jubilation’.
He is currently a scholarship student in Form II at Sydney Grammar School where he studies singing, tuba, pipe organ and piano as well as being an active member of his school’s composition club. James has sung with Sydney Children’s Choir since the age of six and loves performing with them now as a tenor. James entered the Commonwealth International Composition Award with his orchestral work ‘Scenes From Shinjuku Station – Movements 1-3’ which was inspired by a trip to Japan in 2018. In Tokyo, he was amazed by the organised chaos that is Shinjuku train station – the busiest train station in the world. James is extremely honoured that he has been selected for the final short list of the 2020 Commonwealth International Composition Award.

Nathanael Koh – New Zealand

Determined to study and understand music, he is learning the piano, clarinet, cello and French horn to help hone his composition skills. Since 2017, he performs regularly for the public, and concerts organised by IRMT.

At age 9, Nathanael is one of the youngest to attain the Trinity Diploma in Music Theory (AMusTCL), and ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory. Recognising his talent in Music, the Ministry of Education (New Zealand) presented him with the Gifted Learner Award in May 2019. Besides music, his many other interests include Mathematics, Chemistry, German, crafting and playing with Lego.

Since CICA, Nathanael has been given the rare privilege of being appointed as the Composer-in-Residence for the Kids’ Philharmonic in Singapore in Nov 2019., as well as his piece, Tea Party/Vorfreude, was recently performed by a full orchestra at the Victoria Concert Hall on 22 Dec 2019

Tiara Oberoi – India

Tiara’s first public solo performance was at the age of five. She has since enjoyed singing and learning music at Harmony – The Music School, Bangalore, India. A soloist with the award winning Harmony Chorus since 2011, Tiara has performed across Russia, England, Scotland, across India at music festivals, and on Indian national television for a reality singing competition – Rising Star on Colors TV reaching India’s Top 8. Most recently, she was honored to sing at the Global Hope Festival – an online concert featuring Classical artists from around the globe performing to raise funds for the World Health Organization’s COVID 19 Solidarity Response Fund. Tiara also won the Young Adjudicators’ Prize at the Commonwealth Composition Competition.
In 2017, at the age of 14, Tiara won an international vocal competition and performed at Carnegie Hall, NYC. At 16, she became the youngest musician in India to earn an Associate Diploma from the London College of Music in Musical Theatre, also scoring the top mark. She was India’s ABRSM Grade 8 Classical Singing Examination topper for 2019.
With The Harmony Chorus, Tiara has been involved in several concerts promoting music from different cultures, singing to raise awareness on climate change, has generated funds for children with AIDS, mentally and physically challenged children, old age homes and orphanages. Through her music, she regularly supports the education of
lesser privileged children. She believes in ‘Music With a Purpose’ and has used her music
to entertain, educate and empower people during this pandemic.
Besides music, she has a keen interest in drama and has earned certificates for
short courses from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and Bristol Vic Old Theatre
School in the United Kingdom. She is a Year-12 humanities student who also coaches
young singers in Musical Theatre and singing technique at Harmony – The Music School.
In her free time, she enjoys composing choral music, playing the piano, and playing

William Henderson – Antigua and Barbuda

My name is William D. Henderson am 17 years old and I live in the twin island state of Antigua and Barbuda. I started playing music when I was 14 years old. I started with the piano and guitar, and I had lessons for a few months, which taught me the basics of music, but for the majority of my relatively short time playing music I have been self-taught, always trying to find ways to improve and never giving up on anything that seems to be too difficult. My love for music is undying, and I believe that it is one of the most beautiful forms of expression, because not only is it a language that knows no barriers, but it also is a way of bringing people together; it is the harmony of mankind. Some of my most favorite genres of music include rock, country, blues, jazz, flamenco, pop, classical, salsa, bolero, bachata, and reguetón. I also love Christmas music. I also have many other things that I am just as passionate about as music, such as sports like soccer, karate and fishing.

Winners of the 2020 Commonwealth Composition Challenge Announced

Winners of the 2020 Commonwealth Composition Challenge Announced

The winners of the 2020 Commonwealth Composition Challenge were announced via an online Awards Ceremony yesterday at 7.00pm GMT.

Over 100 young people submitted pieces they had written, and this was shortlisted to 11 finalists. The range and quality of the submissions was outstanding. Listen to the shortlisted entries, and watch the awards ceremony on The Commonwealth Resounds YouTube channel.

Alison Cox, Founder and Director of The Commonwealth Resounds commented “There is so much musical talent in the Commonwealth. We were absolutely delighted by the quality of entries received.”

The three award winners are:

  • The Audience Vote: £250 – MALAYSIA – Eleanor Inn Rei Shuen aged 12, for her composition ‘Dear Fate’ for piano.
  • The Young Adjudicators’ Vote: £250 – INDIA – Tiara Michelle Oberoi aged 17 – ‘Lacrimosa’
  • The Commonwealth Composition Challenge Prizewinner Award: £500 and a commission to compose a piece for a professional ensemble and/or a special event – AUSTRALIA James Brew aged 13, for his composition ‘Pan-Xiety’ for string trio.

Commonwealth Composition Challenge Audience Vote Now Live!

Commonwealth Composition Challenge Audience Vote Now Live!

The Commonwealth Composition Challenge is a special project launched at the beginning of the lockdown in March/April 2020. The aim of the project is to offer online opportunities to school-aged musicians and composers all over the Commonwealth who have been stuck at home during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Many young people around the world were unable to communicate effectively with their own schools during the lockdown, and so this project has provided, in the words of a parent, ‘a wonderful, unexpected lifeline for them to continue their music education’.

Young people were invited to compose and submit a piece of music which reflected in some way their own feelings and experiences during this unusual time. We received more than 70 entries from a wide range of different Commonwealth countries.

To help support inexperienced young people further, we organised a series of one-day training workshops called ‘Go Compose Online’, during which school-aged composers worked online for a day with professional tutors and instrumentalists, who helped them to write and record their pieces. To date, we have managed to fund seven Go Compose workshops for over 80 young composers, at the same time creating badly-needed employment for the professional musicians involved.

Awards ceremony

An Online Awards Ceremony will be on Friday 30 October 2.00pm BST hosted on The Commonwealth Resounds YouTube channel.

The awards

There are three awards:

  • The Audience Vote: £250
  • The Young Adjudicators’ Vote: £250
  • The Commonwealth Composition Challenge Prizewinner Award: £500 and a commission to compose a piece for a professional ensemble and/or a special event

Audience vote

Listen and vote here

The Audience Vote closes at 10pm BST on Monday 26 October 2020.

Join Nathanael to perform HOPE!

Join Nathanael to perform HOPE!

HOPE! by Nathanael (Nat), a 10-year old composer from Singapore is a beautiful composition written to support front-line workers and everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nat has already encouraged musicians from New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia to perform in his piece and he would like to also invite other Commonwealth musicians to join in as well. Please see the video below for more details!
Nat is one of the Commonwealth Composition Challenge finalists, and he also attended one of The Commonwealth Resounds’ recent ‘Go Compose!’ workshops, run with permission from Sound and music and with the support of the ABRSM.