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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Academic wins 30,000 music prize
Pierre Jalbert
Jalbert teaches at Rice University, Texas
A US assistant professor in music, Pierre Jalbert, has won the 30,000 Masterprize composing competition for new classical music.

The 33-year-old composer fought off competition from more than 1,000 other entries to bring his work, In Aeternam (meaning Eternity or Forever in Latin), to the five-strong final.

All five works were performed at the Barbican Centre in London on Wednesday, before the Duchess of York announced the winner.

Mr Jalbert, who teaches at Rice University, Texas, declared himself "shocked" by his win, saying: "I loved all the pieces. For a composer it doesn't get any better than this."

My aim was to capture a range of emotions, from sorrow and grief to shock and despair

Pierre Jalbert

The gala concert by the London Symphony Orchestra was relayed on BBC Radio 3 and BBC World Service to an estimated audience of millions.

Masterprize was established in 1996 by the BBC, EMI and the London Symphony Orchestra to bring the music-loving public and living composers closer together.

An international panel, including pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, met in June to decide the five finalists.

Recordings of those five works were released on CD with the September edition of BBC Music Magazine, whose readers sent in 51,432 votes for a winner.


The audience, the members of the orchestra and the conductor of Wednesday's concert were also invited to vote.

Mr Jalbert's piece was written as a memorial to his niece who died at birth.

"My aim was to capture a range of emotions, from sorrow and grief to shock and despair," he said.

" But it is also about life. The memory of hearing my own son's heartbeat for the first time was still fresh in my mind."

Mr Jalbert was trained at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Pennsylvania and has received many awards for his compositions.

But he embraced his win wholeheartedly - asked what he would do with his win he replied: "Pay off some bills. I have two small children and many debts."

The runners-up who received 1,000 pounds each were two Americans from Michigan, Anthony Iannaccone of Ypsilanti and Carter Pann of Ann Arbor; Qigang Chen, a Chinese living in Paris, and Alastair King, a Briton.

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