A BLACKBURN-born musician will find out tonight if he has won a British Composer of the Year award.

James Weeks is one of three finalists in the chamber ensemble category, one of 12 awards which will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London.

James, 40, currently assistant professor in music at Durham University, said: “I’m sure I won’t win it but it’s just nice to feel part of a wider community.”

James left Blackburn when he was a child but has strong connections to East Lancashire - his grandfather Douglas Coulson was headmaster of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn and his dad John taught English at QEGS.

He has been shortlisted for his piece Libro di fiammelle e ombre which he composed for six voices.

“I run a vocal ensemble called Exaudi and decided to write them a piece to mark their 15th anniversary,” he said. “It is inspired by Sixteenth Century madrigals and was first performed at London’s Wigmore Hall.”

James’ musical career began at an early age. He went to a cathedral school in Oxford aged seven.

“That was really the making of me as a musician,” he said. “Once you are singing in a cathedral you are expected to maintain high standards even if you are only seven-and-a-half.

“I’ve always enjoyed organising music by either writing it or conducting it. I would tell people when I was eight I was going to be a composer or a conductor and that’s exactly what I’ve ended up doing.

“And I’m so glad I have. I thank my lucky stars that I can do something I love as a job.”

After cathedral school, James got an organ scholarship to Cambridge University.

“I was good enough to give recitals in the cathedral but I was never going to make a career out of it,” he said. “I just didn’t enjoy it as much as conducting but really composing is the number one thing for me.”

James is currently working on a companion piece to his nominated work based on voice and violin and he hopes to have his first orchestral piece written in 2020.

In the British Composer Awards, Oswaldtwistle-born Sir Harrison Birtwistle is up for the orchestral award for his work Deep Time.