Finding opportunities as a composer can be difficult and competitive at the best of times. We thought we’d list some annual UK-based opportunities that some composers we’ve featured have found integral to their development as artists. This is by no means an exhaustive list; if you’re a music organisation and would like your opportunity listed here, get in touch — we’d love to hear from you.
All of the opportunities below adhere to Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles. If you’re unfamiliar with these, please give them a read and understand why they’re important.
• Royal Philharmonic Society Composers Programme: a year-long dedicated programme for composers, offering a commission, premiere, and a year of professional development, alongside other professional opportunities and mentoring. Applications tend to open at the beginning of the year, with the deadline in spring. Past recipients include Rylan Gleave, Andrew Chen, and Alex Paxton. Learn more
• Sound and Music’s artist development programmes supports a diverse range of composers through opportunities such as New Voices, Adopt a Music Creator, Composer-Curator, the Francis Chagrin Award grant, and more. Applications are spread out throughout the year, with New Voices usually closing in the summer. Past participants include Ben Nobuto, Fraz Ireland, and Robin Fiedler. Learn more
• The London Symphony Orchestra offers a wide variety of artist development opportunities, with programmes including the Panufnik Composers Scheme, LSO Soundhub, and Jerwood Composer+. Applications are spread out throughout the year, with the Panufnik scheme usually closing in January. Past participants include Robert Crehan and Emma-Kate Matthews. Learn more
• Psappha’s Composing For… programme: a series of schemes supporting up to 24 composers per year to write a new, five-minute piece for Psappha’s players or guest instrumentalists. Applications usually open in the summer, with the deadline in either late summer or early autumn. Past recipients include Kat Wallace, Jake Adams, and Atefeh Einali. Learn more
• The London Philharmonic Orchestra Young Composers Programme aims to support the progression of talented orchestral composers, creating a new work for chamber orchestra to premiere with the LPO. Applications for the 23/24 programme will open in spring 2023. Past recipients include Sun Keting and Alex Tay. Learn more
• The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme hosts a variety of courses supporting the development of emerging artists including composers, singers, pianists, and chamber ensembles. Past participants include Jasmine Morris and Emily Hazrati. Learn more
• Britten Sinfonia operate two artist development opportunities for composers — Opus 1 and Magnum Opus — aimed at composers of differing levels of professional experience and establishment. Applications for Opus 1 tend to open in the spring; applications for Magnum Opus take place every two years. Past participants include Aileen Sweeney. Learn more
• Philharmonia Composers’ Academy: a year-long programme for composers to hone and develop their skills, culminating in the commission of a 10-minute piece to premiere at part of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today contemorary music series. Applications usually take place in the summer. Past participants include Alex Paxton and Nneka Cummins. Learn more
• National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Young Composers programme supports the professional development of composers aged 18-30 in writing for choir. Applications usually take place from spring to summer. Past participants include Ben Nobuto, Claire Victoria Roberts, and Sun Keting. Learn more
• Cheltenham Festival’s Cheltenham Composer Academy: a week-long course for emerging composers, developing a piece with a resident ensemble to premiere at Cheltenham Music Festival. Applications tend to open in the spring. Learn more
We spoke with the participants of Cheltenham Composer Academy 2021 about their music and experiences at the Academy — learn more about their approaches here.
• The Vale of Glamorgan Festival’s Peter Reynolds Composers Studio: a residential course for emerging composers, culminating in two composition play-through and recording opportunities with acclaimed performers. Applications tend to open in the spring. Bursaries are available for applicants from a lower socio-economic background. Past participants include Cameron Biles-Liddell and Chloe Knibbs. Learn more
• The International Society of Contemporary Music runs an annual call for works as part of the ISCM World Music Days Festival. The British contingent is run by Sound and Music; composers based in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also eligible to submit pieces in their own categories. Learn more
• The Sound and Music Opportunities page is a resource of opportunities for emerging composers, featuring commissions, collaborative work, jobs, and much more: https://soundandmusic.org/opportunities/
• The Alternative Classical Newsletter compiles monthly opportunities for emerging composers, as well as news on contemporary classical concerts, events, jobs and more: https://www.alternativeclassical.co.uk/newsletter
• The Ulysses-Network is a hub and network for European composers, focusing on EU-based calls and opportunities: https://www.ulysses-network.eu/
• The Composers’ Site is the predominant resource for calls for scores, composing opportunities, commissions, courses, and more: http://composerssite.com/
header image: Jeremy Rosenstock performing ‘Twenty stones, after Bergson’ at Taverna Maderna, Lavarone, Italy, September 2022. Photo by Giordano De Nisi. Learn more about Jeremy Rosenstock