Delius Prize

The Delius Prize was inaugurated with the purpose of introducing young musicians to the music of Delius. It was felt that the challenge of a prize competition held at a music academy would provide an encouragement to investigate this repertoire and to study it to a level suitable for public performance. This has proved to be the case, as well over 100 music students have entered the competition since its inception.

The Delius Prize is in two parts: a preliminary round, held in private at the music academy, and a public final. An eminent musician is invited to adjudicate the final event.

The Delius Prize 2019

The public competition for The Delius Prize 2019, sponsored by The Delius Society, took place on 9th June 2019 at the kind invitation of its Principal, Julian Lloyd Webber, at the new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. This was the fifteenth annual Delius Prize.

This year’s Adjudicator was Paul Guinery, the Chairman of the Delius Trust and a well-known pianist and broadcaster.  All the competitors, selected from ten entrants at the preliminary round held the week before, satisfied the rules of the competition and were heard in ideal conditions in the Conservatoire’s Recital Hall.

The programme of the public competition was as follows:

Bora Kim (cello)
Robert Markham (staff) (piano)
Delius: Sonata for Cello and Piano
Delius: Caprice for Cello and Piano. arr. Eric Fenby
Delius: Serenade from the Drama Hassan, arr. Eric Fenby

Edward Leung (piano)
Delius: La Calinda from the opera Koanga, arr. Harold Perry
Delius: Zum Carnival,Polka for Piano
Delius: Sleigh Ride, arr. Robert Threlfall
Percy Grainger: Irish Tune from County Derry
York Bowen: Toccata, Op. 155

Jeffrey Armstrong (violin)
Orestis Magou (piano)

Delius: Violin Sonata No. 2
Richard Strauss: Violin Sonata Op. 18, Finale (Andante – Allegro)
SECOND PRIZE (£500)

Tom Pickles (cello)
Olivia Chew (piano)

Frank Bridge: Four Short Pieces
Delius: Sonata for Cello and Piano
FIRST PRIZE (£1,000)

Introducing his adjudication, Paul Guinery said that it was a huge personal pleasure to adjudicate The Delius Prize.  He paid tribute to all the talented musicians who had taken part and commented that the more one plays Delius, the more the music falls into place.  He also noted the importance of striking a balance between moving on and letting the music linger.  Each performance then received a separate analysis, before the final result was announced.  (A full account of the event appeared in The Delius Society Journal No.166 (Autumn 2019), pp 81-85.)

The Delius Society thanked Paul Guinery for his sensitive adjudication and congratulated all of this year’s entrants, and especially the winners, on their memorable performances.  The Society also thanked Mark Bebbington, whose adjudication of the preliminary round of the competition was a model of impartiality.

The annual Delius Prize competition was first held in 2004.  The first five competitions took place at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  The following five were held at the (former) Birmingham Conservatoire, apart from the 2012 event, which was national in scope and held as part of the Chetham’s School, Manchester, Delius Festival in October 2012.  The Delius Prize competition returned to the Royal Academy from 2015 to 2018.