The winners of the NCEM Composers Award 2012 have been announced. The top prizes were awarded to 16-year-old Alex Woolf from Cambridge for Lux Aeterna (for the under-18 category) and to Benjamin Rowarth, aged 20, for Where is thy God? (in the 19-25 category).

The competition’s brief was to compose a new piece of music inspired by the ‘In Nomine’ theme from John Taverner’s Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas. Competitors were told to create the composition with The Tallis Scholars’ unique sound in mind.

Woolf and Rowarth were chosen from seven finalists by a jury including The Tallis Scholars director Peter Phillips, BBC Radio 3’s Chris Wines and NCEM director Delma Tomlin. All finalists were given the opportunity to workshop their pieces with composer-professor Christopher Fox and vocal ensemble The Ebor Singers, who later performed the shortlisted entries in the final round at the National Centre for Early Music. The Tallis Scholars will premiere both winning entries in concert in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 2 June.

Woolf is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra and his work will be featured at this year’s Snape Proms. Rowarth is a 2nd-year student at Durham University, where he became interim director of music at University College last year; he is also assistant director for Durham Polyphony.

Chris Wines said that the award ‘offers a crucial platform for young composers to create and express themselves through early music. This year’s entries attracted a fantastically rich and broad range of imaginative entries.’ Peter Phillips added: ‘I find it thrilling to perform works by a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old and really hope this award will encourage them to develop their styles and write for many different kinds of ensembles.’