Overall Winner of the Commonwealth International Composition Award 2022

We are delighted to announce the winner of the Commonwealth International Award 2022 is Devon Packer from Canada.

Devon Packer is a 16 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 Orchestra Symphonique de l’Isle playing Haydn’s “Divertimento in C Major”. He has appeared at multiple venues in Canada, Europe, and the United States, including New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.

Devon is also an accomplished arranger and composer. He had his first composition, “The Fantastical World of Camelot”, published in 2015 when he was 10 years old. Since then, he has participated in the Purcell School’s Online Composition Academy which offers training to young people all over the world. He has written for numerous ensembles, including the Dionysus Ensemble. In 2021 alone, he was shortlisted for two international composition competitions, being the only finalist to represent Canada in both. In May 2021, he won the Young Adjudicator’s Award in the Commonwealth International Composition Award for his composition “Oceania”. Also in 2021, he received a special commendation in the CICA Grand Final.

What it means to me:
This award means the world to me! It is a tremendous honour and a great validation of all the hard work that I have put into developing my own compositional voice. In previous works, there have been strong echoes of other composers that I admire. With this piece “…reaching…”, I feel I have finally written a piece that I can say is in my own style! I worked very hard to ensure that every single instrument had a rhythmic and a melodic purpose. In particular, I focused on the percussion, which doesn’t often get a big part in classical compositions.

Plans for the future:
I plan to keep composing! If any more opportunities arise out of this wonderful competition, I will embrace them wholeheartedly and dive straight in. There’s definitely a number of things I want to explore over the coming summer, like different instrumentations and compositional forms. I also want to work on my idiomatic writing; that is, writing pieces that play well on the instruments I write them for. Aside from that, I’ll keep pursuing my piano studies, as well exploring the world of percussion.

How composition is a part of my life:
I’ve been composing casually for around 6 years. I remember one of the first pieces I wrote came from improvisations on the piano, and I just HAD to write it down! Ever since then, I’ve refined my craft, from improvisations to fully planned out theme development. Until recently, I was focusing mostly on piano but I really got a chance to develop my compositional skills when quarantine started, causing live performances to be cancelled. It allowed me to focus on the world of composition, since composition is an art that can be practised in isolation.

What’s next for me:
The next thing that’s coming up for me compositionally is a performance of one of my works for the Grande première des futures étoiles (“Grand Premiere of Future Stars”), taking place this June at Place des Arts in Montreal, Canada. I will be on piano, accompanying a professional soprano, performing “The Dragon-Fly”, based on a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I am super excited for this amazing opportunity to showcase my compositions to a live audience for the first time in two years!

Devon Packer

Winner, Commonwealth International Composition Award 2022


by Devon Packer

Performed by: Akito Goto – Cello, Enyuan Khong – Violin, Francesca Lombardelli – Percussion, Jack Welch – Flute.

Conducted by: Philip Dutton
Recorded by: Tom Bell