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Winners of Free-thinkers competition announced

Tue, 03 Sep 2019

Isle of Man Freethinkers, the local secularist group, has announced the winners of a competition to produce music for a unique event.

In March local musicians were invited to compose music for a new annual secular commemoration ceremony for war victims. The competition aim was to produce a suite of short pieces of music, one of which must be a lament or slow air, playable on acoustic instruments by no more than four musicians of average ability, which will set the mood throughout the ceremony. This will be used annually as the ceremony evolves, with varying groups of musicians invited to perform each year.
Thanks to a generous bequest, a total of £2,000 in prize money was on offer for the lament class, the full composition commission, and best entry by someone aged 21 or younger. Interest was keen, with eight entries from a broad cross-section of the Manx musical community received by the deadline. This week the winners were announced as follows:


  • Best Lament – David Kilgallon and Malcolm Stitt (£750 prize).
  • Full Composition Commission – David Kilgallon and Malcolm Stitt (£1,000 prize).
  • Best Under 21 Entry – Owen Williams (£250 prize).
  • In addition, the judges decided to award a special prize of £50 to the youngest entrant, Frank Joughin, aged 10, for his lament entry.

The winners have been invited to perform their work at the ceremony, which will be at the Villa Marina on the evening of November 11th. For various reasons, the judging had to be concluded later than planned. This makes it impractical for the winners to finalise and rehearse their full suite by November, so the full composition will therefore not be used until the 2020 ceremony.
Stuart Hartill, of Isle of Man Freethinkers said:

“There was an extremely high standard of entry, and great stylistic variety, giving the judges some tough decisions. We would love to use all the entries and reward all the entrants, but that just isn’t possible.

As the son of a musician and composer, I also hate the thought of good music going un-played.  So, if any event organiser could use short, original and beautiful local music pieces, please contact me via the Freethinker website (sec@iomfreethinkers.org ) and I have the entrants’ permission to let you know what’s available.”