2012 RPS Composition Prize
Commission: chamber work, 2013 Cheltenham Festival (supported by the Susan Bradshaw Composers Fund)
David Önaç is a composer and pianist based in Manchester. Many of his projects involve him in both of these roles, and he is always seeking opportunities to write and play exciting music which engages and challenges audiences.
He began playing the piano aged 4 in the Caribbean, and gave a recital on national television in the Bahamas aged 10, shortly before moving to England. By age 17, he had performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, and Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor.
His interest in composition began around the age of 15, and at age 16 he was a runner up in the BBC’s Young Composer of the Year - appropriately with The Butterfly, a work for solo piano. Composition became an increasing focus throughout his undergraduate music degree at the University of Cambridge, after which he undertook a year of postgraduate study in composition with Robin Holloway (Cambridge). His studies in composition continued at the RNCM, with Adam Gorb, where he completed an MMus (with distinction). Most recently, he has been pursuing a PhD in Composition with Camden Reeves at the University of Manchester, and meanwhile has gained an LRSM in piano performance (with distinction).
As a composer, David has worked with the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Singers, Belgian violinist Marc Danel, international bass trombonist Jonathan Warburton and pianist Peter Donohoe, and had works performed in Stockholm, Brussels, Virginia (USA) and the UK. He often performs his own pieces, such as Ayla (a 20-minute work for violin and piano dedicated to his goddaughter), and Newton’s Cradle (a virtuosic piano concerto premiered in the 2012 New Music Northwest Festival at the RNCM). Since childhood, he has also had a keen interest in jazz and gospel, and co-directs Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir (finalists in University Gospel Choir of the Year 2012).
Rosemary Nalden: British viola player and founder of Buskaid, who now directs the thriving stringed-instruments school in Soweto. Awarded RPS Honorary Membership in 2013.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bex Burch was able to spend a year in Ghana studying the gyil - an African xylophone - with Thomas Sekgura, a master musician thanks to funding from the RPS Isserlis Scholarship.