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Dobson claims third British Composer Award

Simon Dobson has won his third British Composer Award for his major brass band work, 'The Turing Test'.

Dobson
  Simon Dobson has now won three British Composer Awards

Simon Dobson has won his third British Composer Award. It was presented to the Cornishman at a high profile event hosted by BBC Radio 3 at the British Museum in London.

His work, 'The Turing Test', inspired by the life and work of the brilliant, but tragic mathematician, computer scientist and cryptanalyst, Alan Turing, won the award in the 'Wind Band and Brass Band' category. It follows the success enjoyed by his 'A Symphony of Colours' (2010) and 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' (2014).

The work was nominated alongside compositional colleagues Lucy Pankhurst for her 'Mindscape' and Gavin Higgins for his 'Dark Arteries Suite'.

Blown away

"I'm just blown away," Simon told 4BR on the morning after what he described was "a simply fantastic night".

"To be nominated is an honour in itself, especially when it was alongside my friends Gavin and Lucy whose brilliant work I admire so much.

It says a great deal I think that for the first time all three nominated pieces were for the brass band medium. That is something all three of us were very proud of."

He added: "It really was a massive surprise, and my thanks go to everyone involved in getting the work commissioned, published and performed.

Alan Turing is a man who should also be honoured by the nation, so I hope in a small way my composition and the award allows people to understand a little more about the huge contribution he made to us all."

Intolerance and ignorance

Written for Brass Band Willebroek and given its world premiere by them at the 2016 Belgian National Championship, 'The Turing Test' has since been performed around the world, with its UK premiere given in 2018.

Turing is considered the father of modern computational science; his pioneering work on mathematical theories ultimately leading to the cracking of the Nazi Enigma Machine code. However, his life ended in tragedy with his suicide — a victim of intolerance and ignorance towards his homosexuality.

Dobson's work, although non-programmatic, seeks to detail something of the emotion and colour of Turing's life — from his imagined beginnings into bio-digital life forms (AI) and his entry into the scientific community, to his ever more complex solutions to ever more deadly war time problems.

Alan Turing is a man who should also be honoured by the nation, so I hope in a small way my composition and the award allows people to understand a little more about the huge contribution he made to us allSimon Dobson

Congratulations

Speaking at the event Nigel Elderton, PRS Chairman, said: "Congratulations from all of us at PRS for Music to the well-deserved winners from this year's British Composer Awards, and thank you for the fantastic music you create which continues to enrich our lives."

Simon was in good company on the night with other multiple award winners Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Judith Weir and Rebecca Saunders.

GRAMMY follow up?

The composer could round off a memorable week or this Friday when the 'long list' nominations for the 61st GRAMMY Awards are announced in America on Friday.

His musical link to the Florida rock group Alter Bridge has been tipped by critics to be listed.

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Craig Roberts

BA (Hons), MA
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