Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition: Chris McMurran and Ralph Wyld

Musicians’ Company Jazz is pleased to announce that this year’s Dankworth Prizes for Jazz Composition have been awarded to:

Big Band: Chris McMurran –  Continuum
Small Ensemble: Ralph Wyld – Subterrranea

The awards took place within the context of an evening of music performed at the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre on Wednesday 11th February. The Prizes were presented by Alec and Emily Dankworth, who represented the entire Dankworth family’s association with the Prize in line with the wishes of the late Sir John Dankworth.  Also in attendance were the Prizes’ judges: Tim Garland, Frank Griffith and Nikki Iles.

The RCM Big Band with guest soloist Tim Garland, directed by Mark Armstrong, performed a programme which included the music of Gil Evans, Thad Jones, Maria Schneider and Pat Metheny. In addition, the Dankworth Prize-winning compositions were performed with great style by the students of the RCM.

Read a review of the evening here http://www.londonjazznews.com/2015/02/news-chris-mcmurran-and-ralph-wyld-win.html

The 2015 Winners

Chris McMurran hails from a musical family in the West country, where he started learning piano and trumpet at a young age. His passion for jazz and composition were cultivated in the Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra, which gave him the opportunity to air his first original big-band chart at the Montreux Jazz Festival, age 17.
Now in his fifth year studying medicine at Trinity College Cambridge, Chris has played alongside former Dankworth Prize-winners Tom Green and Misha Mullov-Abbado in the University Jazz Orchestra, CUJO. He directed this ensemble for two years (2012-14), with plenty of opportunity to compose and arrange. Other highlights included organising tours to Bordeaux and Istanbul and collaborations with guest artists Laurence Cottle and Liane Carroll.
Chris is active as a jazz pianist in Cambridge and London, performing regularly with his own trio. He also plays as a sideman in Cambridge-based funk band “Mode9” and accompanies musical-comedy duo “Bounder and Cad”. A more recent endeavor has been playing the banjo in a six-piece Dixieland jazz band.
Whilst hoping to pursue a career in medicine and medical research, Chris will always continue to play and compose jazz. He is very grateful for the Dankworth Prize, which gives him the encouragement and inspiration to do so!

Ralph Wyld is a musician based in London, with a diverse range of musical skills and influences. He studied orchestral percussion and jazz vibraphone jointly up to the age of 18, when he began attending the prestigious jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. Ralph also composed from an early age, writing music for the many ensembles with which he’s been involved; from percussion ensembles and brass bands, to big bands and orchestras.
Ralph has performed, and has had his compositions performed, at iconic venues on many occasions, such as the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Barbican, as well as Ronnie Scott’s and the 606 Club. In addition he has toured China, playing in the Beijing International Festival; Brazil, including concerts in Sao Paolo and the International Winter Festival in Campos do Jordão; and extensively across Europe.
A former principal percussionist of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Ralph has played in the BBC Proms on several occasions, concerts which were broadcast on BBC television and radio. He now studies at the Royal Academy of Music under head of jazz Nick Smart, and learns with Jim Hart, Pete Churchill, Stan Sulzmann and Gwilym Simcock. The Academy has given Ralph the opportunity to perform with Joe Locke, Dave Holland, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler and John Hollenbeck, amongst many others.
His compositions have been recognised previously through awards such as the National Festival of Music for Youth New Composition Award, and the Sibelius Young Composer of the Year. This year Ralph has taken up an official second-study in composition at the Royal Academy, learning with Patrick Nunn. His next big compositional project comes in the form of a celebration of the 150th birthday of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Combining new music, improvisation, and classical and jazz influences, the project aims to capture some of the magic of Carroll’s narrative.