YOUNG composer Matt Winkworth has just won his dream job – but it could prove to be a bit of an Odyssey.
Mr Winkworth, 29, from East Oxford, saw off more than 300 songwriters to win a £12,000 prize to write a new musical.
Now he and his writing partner, who he has only known since October, have one year to realise their dream – a modern adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey.
The former pupil at Abingdon’s John Mason School, who is now a freelance composer, said: “It’s all been a bit crazy, I’m just really excited and can’t wait to start.”
Mr Winkworth entered the inaugural Perfect Pitch Awards last year, organised by Perfect Pitch Musicals and the Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton.
Paired with a writing partner, Chris Bush, from York, they were challenged to devise a 10-minute pitch for a new musical.
Last week, they had to present their idea live to a panel of five musical theatre judges including musical star Michael Ball.
Minutes after the judges had seen all five pitches, they chose their winner.
And Perfect Pitch patron Stephen Fry chipped in with a congratulatory tweet.
Mr Winkworth joked: “They’ve called our bluff, now we have to write it.”
Mr Winkworth said the concept for a modern adaptation of the ancient Greek epic was Mr Bush’s idea, he will write the “book”, as it is known, the words and lyrics, while the Oxfordian will write the music.
The original Odyssey follows the 10-year journey of Greek soldier Odysseus, trying to get home across the Mediterranean following the fall of Troy. On the way he encounters sirens, a cyclops and some angry sea gods.
The modern musical version will follow a 16-year-old girl living in foster care in the north of England who tries to find her real parents in London.
Mr Winkworth said: “We want it to be quite a British piece so we are looking at incorporating everything from folk music to rap.
“Chris and I are still learning to work together but it has been very intuitive so far which is a credit to Perfect Pitch’s choice in putting us together.”
They will share the £12,000 prize money to support their living costs while writing their creation this year.
Perfect Pitch artistic director Wendy Barnes said: “Matt and Chris are worthy winners. Their piece represented a fresh and contemporary approach to musical theatre writing, which is something we are keen to encourage.
“We hope the show will help attract a new, young audience to musicals.”