Borimir Ivanov – 1st Prize with Special Mention, Composition

My education began relatively “late” in comparison to what would usually be expected of aspiring musicians. Having started piano lessons 5 years ago, I found myself constantly driven to develop and pursue what I was interested in, being motivated by those around me with more experience. Over time I entered performance competitions, such as the one held my school where I was awarded 1st place by Professor John Irving of Bristol University, as well as playing in various school ensembles as an accompanist. As I approached a Grade 8 standard in piano, my interests slowly turned to composition.

What initially sparked this interest was my application to the MusicFirst Young Composer’s Competition in 2022. The competition was open to students in the UK ages 11-18 who composed original scores. Following my entry, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a finalist in the 11-14 age group taking part in a live, virtual Masterclass with renowned composer Judith Weir CBE who awarded me 1st place in my category. The handwritten message in the engraved copy of my score, which I received as my prize, continues to serve as personal motivation to this day; I could not be more grateful for it.

Shortly after this, I entered in the annual Surrey Hills Young Composers Competition which was open to composers aged 18 or under. The Composition entries were adjudicated by Wu Qian, Director of the Investec International Music Festival, Charlotte Bray, an Ivor Novello Award-winning composer, and Stephen Goss, Composer & Professor of Composition at University of Surrey. Prizes were presented at the World premiere performance by members of the Sitkovetsky Trio on 5 May 2022 as part of Investec International Music Festival 2022. I was awarded a high commendation and was invited to this concert as well, where I was allowed to meet the Trio and esteemed judges.

Another one of, if not the most, beneficial competitions that I entered was the annual ORA Singers young composer competition which was open to composers aged 18 or under. There, I was awarded an invitation to join a scheme of 40 apprentices and received eight online masterclasses, each delving deep into a different topic in choral composition and led by Rory Wainwright Johnston DipABRSM and Thomas Rayner, who provided one to one feedback one a final composition set to a brief throughout the course.

Having participated in these competitions, I feel that can I begin to understand some of the aspects of the music industry, learning more about the things I hold a lot of passion for. After all, I see music as something that speaks the words which do not exist in spoken language, hence the title of my composition entry: “Poémes de L’air (inspired by Jean Paul Richter’s belief that “Music is the poetry of the air.”). This in turn allowed me to emulate words I felt could only be said truly by music in this work, as an aspiring, amateur composer.

Winning videos: