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Home > Oram Awards 2021 winners announced!

Oram Awards 2021 winners announced!

  • Fifth annual award to recognise talented women and gender minority music creators innovating in music, sound and related technologies
  • Revealed: the six winners of The Oram Awards 2021 are Magz Hall, Vivienne Griffin, Lia Mice, Lou Barnell, Maria Sappho, Venus Ex Machina
  • Winners to receive talent development bursaries from PRS Foundation
  • This year’s ceremony will be streamed live 7pm, Thursday December 9th in partnership with Birmingham based experimental  music festival Supersonic, with performances from all six winners and a Q&A panel discussion.



 The Oram Awards 2021 is the fifth annual event celebrating innovation in music, sound and related technologies by the next generation of forward thinking artists – an initiative by PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development, in partnership with The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop. 

Following a brilliant and bold set of applications in 2021, The Orams are pleased to announce the names of this year’s six winners: Magz Hall and Vivienne Griffin will receive special commendations and talent development bursaries of £1,500 each with Lia Mice, Lou Barnell, Maria Sappho, Venus Ex Machina receiving talent development bursaries of £500 from PRS Foundation.


About the winners:
Magz Hall is a Dr of Radio Art and Senior Radio Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University whose work has a focus on expanding radio art in all its forms. She has worked internationally having exhibited at Jerwood Arts, Barbican, Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery, The V&A London, MACBA Barcelona, Place Des Artes Montreal and more. 

This is fantastic recognition for the radio art and sound art I have been making since 2000. It means that I can start research and development on an exciting new longer term project called Radio Playtime. Radio Playtime will be realised as a bespoke sonic sculptural playground inspiring children and visitors alike to think about how radio electronics make concrete music.”


Vivienne Griffin is an anti-disciplinary artist using sculpture, sound, drawing and writing in various forms including sound poetry, spoken word, extended vocals, videos and augmented reality.  In audio works they engage with the primal act of vocalising sound, fragmented language, spoken word and synthesised vocals. Daphne Oram is a legend, she was a vanguard, it is an honour to win an award in her name. I’ve worked in the intersection of sound and fine art for some time. Anyone who works in that area knows that it’s an atypical space which often has nowhere to land. The Oram Awards is the perfect space for this kind of practice, as Oram defied expectations around what music could be and defined electroacoustic music, spiritually and physically.”


Lou Barnell is a self-trained neurodivergent artist, influenced by material, colour and the strangeness of the everyday. Her body is a disorientated instrument and navigational tool that composes, scores, and communicates her synaesthetic experiences. “I’m excited by the prospect of developing and touring my work with sculptures, sensors and music and reaching more womxn with the IN-PROCESS archive to amplify underrepresented voices in performance and music. I will access mentorship to support me with expanding my experiments in migrating musical performance into materials, exploring large-scale shapeshifting sculptures, and developing data-streams on social media that communicate my experiences of sensory overload and synaesthesia as a neurodivergent person.”


Lia Mice: Dubbed a “pioneer of experimental pop” by Berlin’s KALTBLUT Magazine, Lia Mice is expanding the boundaries of electronic music production and digital musical instrument design.  A member of the Augmented Instruments Lab, Lia Mice has a futuristic-industrial aesthetic. She recently completed her fourth studio album to be released in 2022.  “Experimental exploration and invention is a core part of my creative process so winning an award in “innovation in sound, music and associated technologies” is really affirming. With this support from the Oram Awards I plan to explore new realms in digital musical instrument design”


Maria Sappho is an improviser, pianist, and researcher who works with verbatim collaborative theatrical storytelling with strong perspectives on nature, mythology, feminism, and community. She is a current PhD Candidate at Huddersfield University, on the European Research Council project IRiMaS (Interactive Research in Music as Sound). With the bursary I will be curating an event to celebrate the global practices of experimental improvised arts. Presented as a hybrid live/digital event the idea is to take advantage of a valuable gift I was given out of this isolating pandemic period – the ability to meet across distance and expand family. The event will present international artists who promote, challenge, and re-define what our experimental futures might be.”


Venus Ex Machina is the alias of Nontokozo F. Sihwa, an electronic composer, producer and educator with a background in mathematics. In January 2021, she released her debut LP ‘Lux’ on AD93 Records. It was selected as Bleep’s Album of the Week, featured in The Wire Magazine, and earned a guest spot on Tom Ravenscroft’s The Raver’s Hour on BBC 6Music. Album tracks ‘Mysterium’ and ‘Nachtspiel’ were featured in campaigns for Burberry. It is a great honour to be welcomed into the pantheon of Oram Awardees, and I am thankful most of all to Daphne Oram for her lightning vision and legacy, and also to the judges for supporting my work.”


BBC Radio 3’s “Unclassified” will be introducing The Oram Award winners, hosted by Elizabeth Alker, with one winner profiled each week over the course of six weeks.


This year’s Oram Awards ceremony will take place at 7pm, Thursday December 9th in partnership with Birmingham based experimental music festival Supersonic.  In 2020 Supersonic pivoted against a backdrop of the pandemic and produced the Sofasonic Festival, a weekend of 40 digital events, workshops, talks and DJ sets. The Oram Awards will be streamed via with performances from all six winners and a Q&A panel discussion. 

As part of continuing support The Oram Awards Mentoring Programme which will be available to all six winners, alongside masterclasses for past and present winners. Commencing in early 2022, the mentoring programme will last for six months and give artists access to experts in the field of sound and music as well as a space to support each other’s work and practises that push the boundaries of innovation. The Orams will be busy working with winners past and present to create something very special in 2022. Watch this space!

The 2021 judging panel comprised of sound artist and senior lecturer at Goldsmiths University, Dr Iris Garrelfs; composer, robotic artist & Daphne Oram Trustee, Sarah Angliss, improviser, sound artist, New BBC Radiophonic Workshop member, Lauren Sarah Hayes, experimental composer and turntablist, Shiva Feshareki and representatives from the PRS Foundation; Grants Coordinator (meeting Chair), Westley Holdsworth, Grants and Programmes Manager, Elizabeth Sills and The Oram Awards creative producer, Karen Sutton 


Lauren Sarah Hayes shared her experience of judging this year’s applications and selecting the 6 winners:

“While we have a long way to go before the arts in the UK are rid of their various exclusions and supported in such a way that we eventually won’t have a need for programs like the Oram Awards, I’m nevertheless delighted to see much work in the final selection this year that is thinking about building networks and community, and expanding the idea of what musical and sonic artistry can be. I think I can speak on behalf of all the judges in saying how difficult it was to reach a final consensus, which only speaks to the plurality, quality, and diversity of music that is being made right now. That’s what’s really thrilling.” 


Find out more about the Oram Awards