By Alan Cooper
From The Herald - June 23 2007
The winner of the University of Aberdeen Music Prize 2007 was, like the first prizewinner in 2005, a young composer from South Korea. Woojun Lee wins a cash prize of £5000. More valuable still for a young composer, he receives a commission from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for a new work to be premiered in the Music Hall next year.
This prize is the result of a unique co-operation between Aberdeen University and the BBC SSO, who have just completed a three-day residency in Aberdeen in connection with the competition. Workshops and concerts in the Cowdray Hall have gone on throughout the three days of the event. On Sunday, an organ recital by Dr Roger Williams presented new compositions by two of Aberdeen's graduate students as well as by Paul Mealor, host and organiser of the Music Prize. There followed a composer profile of one of this year's judges, Judith Weir, during which some of her finest vocal music both solo and choral was discussed and performed.
The 400 manuscripts for string quartet originally submitted for the Prize were reduced to the five finalists whose music was performed at the Aberdeen Prize Gala Concert by a quartet from the BBC SSO led by Elizabeth Layton. Barnaby Hollington and Bushra El-Turk, both from England, were competing with Ian Wilson from the Republic of Ireland and Giovanni Albini from Italy. All of their compositions were stunningly imaginative and refreshingly original in their exploitation of the string quartet idiom. However, the judges, Judith Weir and John Casken, composer and professor of music at the University of Manchester, awarded the prize to Woojun Lee for his composition Langsam musik, which they reckoned created some of the most beautiful sounds in the competition.