EX CATHEDRA | Liz Dilnot Johnson wins prestigious Ivor Composers Award for When a Child is a Witness with Ex Cathedra

We are thrilled that one of our composers-in-residence, Liz Dilnot Johnson, has been awarded a prestigious Ivor Novello Composer Award for the piece When a Child is a Witness.

Written for choir, children’s choir, mezzo-soprano soloist, organ, piano, violin/Hardanger fiddle and refugee groups, the 100-minute requiem mass was commissioned and produced by Ex Cathedra for Coventry’s City of Culture.

Winner in the Community & Participation category, When a Child is a Witness was created in collaboration with a wide range of refugee groups in Coventry: Carriers of Hope, Inini Initiative (a group supported by Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre and the Belgrade Theatre), the European Youth Music Refugee Choir, Ravensdale Primary School, plus soloists Kadialy Kouyate, Gabriella Liandu and Lucy Russell.

Built around the musical structure of a Requiem, Johnson and Ex Cathedra worked with each of the groups to create new content that occupied musical ‘windows’ throughout the piece, a journey the composer documented at https://lizjohnsoncomp.wordpress.com/2022/11/18/being-heard-being-seen/.

With funding from Arts Council England amongst others, the project culminated in a performance at Coventry Cathedral in February 2022, with musical direction from Jeffrey Skidmore and Rebecca Ledgard.  The performance was filmed and subsequently streamed ‘as live’ for a limited period.

Liz Dilnot Johnson commented:

“During my time working with the different community networks that support the journeys of refugees and local people in Coventry I have got to hear, learn and experience the stories that have touched my heart and will stay with me for ever. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person involved in this life-changing production.

“This work, commissioned and produced in partnership with the brilliant Birmingham-based choir Ex Cathedra, with whom I have a long-standing working relationship, will continue next year with our next project shining a light on the power of economics, the plight of climate change and the need to live within the resources available to sustain human life.”

Ivor Novello Awards are judged by fellow composers and music creators for creative excellence. The jury included 48 composers and practitioners from across the classical, jazz and sound art community who judged the nine nominated categories. The jury called the work “an artistically ambitious and emotionally compelling work that is firmly rooted in the contributions of the participants” and “evocative music with a purpose and meaningful sense of engagement”.

The Ivors Composer Awards are supported by PRS for Music. BBC Radio 3 will broadcast the ceremony in a special edition of the New Music Show on 19 November at 10pm, which will also be available on BBC Sounds. Listen at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001f5k3

We are honoured to have continued working with the Carriers of Hope “Let’s Play” group since February.