Orchestra Seeks Composer – Call for Submissions

April 17, 2015 in All Opportunities, Composers by newmusicscotland

Announcing the Yorkshire Late Starter Strings New Music Commission cycle for 2015 / 2016­

Inspired by the success of YLSS’s previous commissions, we are now inviting entries for our 2015/­16 New Music Commission. Four of the submitted pieces will be chosen for a workshop with renowned composer Michael Finnissy and YLSS players and from these one piece will be selected for performance in 2016.

Our aims for the commission are to:
● Create an original piece of music of high quality, which is inspiring, challenging yet technically accessible for YLSS. This will add to the very limited repertoire specifically written for similar orchestras of adult learners.

● Give YLSS the experience of being part of the creative process and of working with a composer. The process of selecting the composer and working on the piece will be designed to involve all YLSS members who wish to take part. Entrants will be encouraged to share with YLSS the inspiration for their piece and discuss the process of composition, to enhance players’ understanding and performance of the music.

● Broaden YLSS’s musical horizons, giving an impetus to developing more adventurous playing and more confident performance.

● Enable an established or emerging composer to work with YLSS in creating a new piece for performance.

How we plan to achieve this:
Stage 1 Invite compositions for the Workshop:
An open invitation to established or emerging composers to submit a 10 to ­15 minute composition. All entries will be considered anonymously by the Selection Panel and four will be shortlisted for a Workshop.

Stage 2 Workshop Day in Leeds:
A Workshop for four shortlisted composers. Michael Finnissy will give feedback and coaching on each piece as it is rehearsed with YLSS and its conductor Stuart Hazelton. Michael Finnissy will also offer an individual tutorial with each shortlisted composer. The Workshop and tutorials will be held in Leeds and we will meet travel expenses up to £50 each for shortlisted composers. One composition will be selected for the commission.

Stage 3 Rehearsals with commissioned composer:
A commission worth £500 (plus contribution towards expenses) to the selected composer to work with YLSS to develop and rehearse their piece for a performance in 2016

Stage 1: Closing date: 31st July 2015

Stage 2: tutorials: 24th October 2015; workshop: 25th October 2015

Stage 3: rehearsals with composer: Jan – June 2016; Performance date TBC 2016.


● Compositions should be appropriate for YLSS (see below).

● Compositions must not have been previously performed or published.

● Compositions should be free of any copyright restrictions that may prevent public performance and copy of parts for use.

● Compositions should last between 10 and 15 minutes.

● Entrants should provide 4 copies of their score for selection and be prepared to provide at least one full set of parts on request.

● Entrants should provide a brief programme note (100 to ­200 words) and a short biography.

● There is no age limit.

● There is no geographical limit. Entrants are reminded that shortlisted composers must be able to attend the Workshop in Leeds and be able to work with YLSS to rehearse their piece if selected as winner.

● The score and parts must be easily legible, computer typeset is preferred.

● The winning composition will be premièred by YLSS at a performance of their choosing.

● The four composers shortlisted for the Workshop will be paid actual travel expenses incurred of up to £50 each.

● The prize for the composition which YLSS chooses to commission will be £500. In addition YLSS will pay towards expenses incurred (travel to rehearsals, copying, etc) up to a max of £200.

● The commissioned composer will be expected to attend two rehearsals to work with

● Entries should include:

■ Application Form

■ 4 anonymous copies of the Score and Programme Note

■ Biography

● Compositions will be returned if a suitable pre­paid addressed envelope is provided.

● If possible please send a sound file (eg MP3) or CD of your entry ­ this would be helpful but is not compulsory.

● Pieces should arrive at the address below by 31 July 2015​. Entries received after that date will not be considered. All entries will be acknowledged.

Please send to: YLSS New Music, c/o 22 New Walk Terrace, York YO10 4BG

Some information about YLSS that may be helpful:

Yorkshire Late Starters Strings is a non-­professional string orchestra based in Leeds but with players from as far away as Hull, Manchester and Nottingham. The orchestra takes players of any standard without audition so players cover a wide range of abilities from about Grade 2 upwards to Grade 8. The majority of players are in the middle range. The range of instruments covers violin, viola, cello and double bass, with a typical total of 30 to ­35 players, well spread across the parts. The mix of instruments/ability can vary from week to week so a piece that is flexible enough to cope with this is desirable.

Although, as late starters, some people have not yet reached a high standard technically, players are enthusiastic and committed (see travelling distance above) and willing to tackle a wide variety of music. In the past we have played music from Lawes and Corelli to Hindemith and Pärt, and have held new music workshops. Despite this it would be unwise to depend too much on unusual notations, improvisations, etc – this is a non-­professional orchestra playing for fun and most players feel more comfortable with notes!

What we do want, however, is music that will be inspiring, expressive, adventurous, and yet playable for the wide range of abilities that we encompass. This is where the challenge lies for the composer – to produce a piece that all players can fully participate in and rehearse to only for first and second violin but also for first and second cello, and third parts for newer players. While the first violin and first cello parts can be technically challenging, the piece should not depend on solo players. If the piece is as good, original and exciting as we hope for, there will be opportunities for further performance by similar groups in the UK and USA with which we have links.

The winner will be chosen by the Selection Panel including composer Michael Finnissy, conductor Stuart Hazelton and two members of YLSS, after consultation with the orchestra.

If you have any queries about the competition please contact ylss.secretary@gmail.com.