Abbey Road Studios Worldwide Anthem Competition: winners’ recordings

At the beginning of 2011, Abbey Road Studios launched a worldwide search for original, unsigned and undiscovered composers, in celebration of their 80th anniversary.
The Anthem Competition was open to musicians of all ages, backgrounds and levels of musical experience across the globe.
“It was a brilliant way to discover unknown composers and for composers to discover the real world. A defining moment.”Zhangyi Chen, competition winner

“It was an extremely overwhelming and humbling experience. I feel very lucky to have been part of such a wonderful project. Abbey Road Studios is the spiritual home of the British recording industry and I can’t believe they let us past reception.” Oliver Chapman, competition winner

The truly unique prize for winners was the opportunity to record their original work in Abbey Road Studios’ famous Studio One with the London Symphony Orchestra. This is the same location and same world-class orchestra that recorded ‘Land of Hope And Glory’, conducted by Sir Edward Elgar 80 years ago, not to mention recordings for the Star Wars and Harry Potter films and countless classical albums.
“Winning the competition led me to work with some of the country’s finest musicians in a great atmosphere and historic location. It has been an amazing experience. I’m so pleased with how my track has come together.”Steven Jackson, competition winner

[pullquote_left]This is a non-commercial, not-for-profit  (all artists own the publishing) celebration of creating new music in a setting rich in both history and cutting edge technology, showcasing the utterly peerless acoustics, professional staff and recording equipment available at Abbey Road Studios.[/pullquote_left]The idea behind the anthem competition was to celebrate 80 years of Abbey Road Studios with new music and to open its doors, giving up-and-coming composers the opportunity to experience top-end facilities and creative collaboration usually only available to professionals in the higher echelons of the music industry. It was also Abbey Road Studios’ way of saying thank you for the support of the wider, music-loving public with an inclusive competition, open to anyone with an interest in music composition.

An invaluable educational process, the winners’ work was performed and recorded to the very highest standard.  Using the best microphones and equipment, the winners worked under the world-class guidance of renowned composer Eric Whitacre who conducted the London Symphony Orchestra (plus some of the UK’s finest singers) and collaborated with the anthem composers on their arrangements and scoring.
“It was a terrific experience to work with people of the calibre of the Abbey Road Studios’ engineers and staff.”Steven Lindsay, competition winner

From inception to completion, the competition was hugely ambitious for the entrants and Abbey Road Studios staff involved. They received a staggering 918 entries, meaning the judges were faced with the mammoth challenge of listening to hours of music and choosing winners. After weeks of review, eight winners emerged who’d submitted eight very different pieces of music that all the judges deemed to be exciting, new anthems.

  • Daniel Brinsmead – ‘Come Sleep’ (Australia)
  • Daniel Elder – ‘The Heart’s Reflection’ (New Jersey, USA)
  • Tina Andersson – ‘The Angel’ (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • Zhangyi Chen – ‘Ariadne’s Love’ (Baltimore, USA)
  • Oliver Chapman & Will Clapson – ‘Made of Ghosts’ (Cambridge, UK)
  • Steven Jackson – ‘So Alive, So Clear’ (Manchester, UK)
  • Stephen Lindsay – ‘A Million Stars’ (Australia)
  • Cyrus Almonde – ‘Thank You Eternally’ (Guernsey)

“Based around the concept of anthems the competition was designed to be inclusive and embrace a musical theme that, like the studios itself, welcomed many styles of music. Having an orchestra and choir available to the composers also meant the scale of the music-making had few limits. The winning compositions reflect this diversity and ambition, from the delicate string and vocal textures of Zhangyi Chen’s ‘Ariadne’s Love’ to the haunting and powerful ‘Made of Ghosts’, written and performed by the band Jack in Water. There are beautiful settings of rarely-heard text performed a cappella by the Eric Whitacre Singers written by Daniel Brinsmead (‘Come Sleep’), Tina Andersson (‘The Angel’) and Daniel Elder (‘The Heart’s Reflection’).

“Wow! This is absolutely incredible, I could have not asked for a better finished product. I’m stoked with the result. You have brought out the best in our song with the mixing and mastering.” Daniel Brinsmead, competition winner

We also recorded a rousing pop ballad by Steven Lindsay (‘A Million Stars’), an anthem to the joy of singing performed and written by Steven Jackson (‘So Alive, So Clear’) and Cyrus Almonde’s unique and rollicking celebration about being welcomed into the afterlife (‘Thank You Eternally’) which we found life-affirming and fun.” Jonathan Allen, Abbey Road Studios Senior Engineer

As the quote above attests, despite the time and effort involved, everyone at Abbey Road Studios found the experience immensely positive, enjoyable and rewarding.

WATCH: Abbey Road Studios’ Worldwide Anthem Competition

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“Watching Eric Whitacre on the conductor’s podium sing and dance his way through the bridge of my composition will stay with me forever.”Steven Jackson, competition winner

The Worldwide Anthem Competition is the perfect antidote to other high-profile talent contests, as prestige, professional recognition, creative collaboration and original compositions are favoured over fleeting fame and cover versions. The ramifications for the eight winners are potentially life-changing and certainly offer a boost to a credible and discerning career in music.
“When you realize that Eric Whitacre’s voice is on your phone, letting you know that they are head over heels in love with your music, your whole world changes.” Tina Anderson, competition winner

The judging panel consisted of world-renowned composer and No. 1 Classical Album Chart recording artist Eric Whitacre, Grand Prix Du Disque, Gramophone Award, Classical Brit Award winner and Grammy-nominated conductor Harry Christophers, BAFTA/Emmy winning score composer George Fenton (Gandhi, The Madness Of King George, Memphis Belle, The Blue Planet) and producer/arranger/composer/director/performer Rob Mathes (Carly Simon, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Tony Bennett, Ghostface Killah, Sting).

“Wow! This is absolutely incredible, I could have not asked for a better finished product. I’m stoked with the result. You have brought out the best in our song with the mixing and mastering.” Daniel Brinsmead, competition winner