Cheltenham Composer Academy 2019

Apply for FREE from 21 March – 16 April 2019

The 7th Cheltenham Composer Academy will run from Monday 8 – Wednesday 10 July 2019.

What is the Composer Academy?

Composer Academy forms part of Cheltenham Festivals Spotlight Talent Development Programme. Spotlight aims to support artists at all stages of their careers to take the next step. Composer Academy specifically supports early-career composers (aged 18+ years) who are looking to gain professional advice and mentoring to further their career. The programme is stimulating, wide-ranging and has proved highly influential in its first six years. During the programme the eight participants have their compositions work-shopped, performed and recorded; attend a range of premiere performances at the Cheltenham Music Festival, and have access to industry professionals in a series of panel talks that discuss craft and contemporary aesthetics along with career development.

Composer Academy Evolves: Changes for 2019

This year we are condensing Composer Academy from one week to two and a half days. All participants will receive the same level of professional advice and support, in consultation with the course Director and our Ensemble-in-Residence, both in advance of the residential days and on site in Cheltenham. Our aim is to reduce the costs associated with attending, making Composer Academy accessible to a more diverse group of early-career composers.

In 2019 the second day of Composer Academy will run alongside, and as part of, Composium, a new symposium for composers, publishers, artists, managers and members of the public, comprising talks, panel discussions, performances and networking opportunities. All eight compositions will be premiered at Composium, providing an exciting platform for Academy participants, with an audience comprising influential music industry members.

When is the Composer Academy?

Participants will arrive on Monday 8 July and depart on the morning of Thursday 11 July. Public showcases of works created during the Composer Academy will take place on Wednesday 10 July as part of the inaugural Cheltenham Composium day.

Who will I be writing for and working with?

We are delighted to announce that the celebrated composer John Woolrich will be the Composer Academy Director for 2019. Woolrich has had very successful collaborations as Composer in Residence, Artistic Director and Guest Director at several prestigious music festivals and ensembles including the Britten Sinfonia, the Orchestra of St. John, Aldeburgh Festival and Dartington International Summer School as well as being Professor of Music at Brunel University.

Participants will have the choice of writing one piece for any combination of musicians from Tom Poster’s Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective (Elena Urioste, Melissa White – violins, Rosalind Ventris – viola, Gabriel Cabezas – cello, Tom Poster – piano). The Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective will be in residence for the duration of the Academy and will workshop each piece alongside tuition from John Woolrich during sessions on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 July. The target duration of the piece is around 4-5 minutes, and composers will be asked to submit an ‘initial draft’ score in early June for the ensemble to prepare. The score will need to be 95% completed and sent to the Festival office by Friday 5 July. The workshop sessions will provide additional contributions and edits can be made before the performance on the afternoon of Wednesday 10 July.

Which composers’ works will I hear?

Other composers whose music you will hear, and some of whom you will may get the chance to meet during the Academy include Grace Evangeline-Mason, John Woolrich, Gabriela Montero, Freya Waley-Cohen, Zoe Martlew, Emma Ruth-Rodgers, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Betsy Jolas.

How much will it cost?

Heavily subsidised by a number of generous funders (trusts and individuals), and due to the reduced, intensive nature of the experience, course fees are kept low – in 2019 the course will cost £60. This includes coaching, talks, concert tickets and lunch each day. Single room bed and breakfast accommodation is available and paid for separately by participants, with cost tbc in due course (we keep rates as low as possible, at around £30 per night). Applicants who are not selected as full Academy participants will be invited to attend as observer composers at a rate of £30 per day (plus accommodation).

How do I apply?

Click here to fill out an application form. You will be asked to tell us a bit about yourself, why you’d like to take part, what you’d like to write and upload some examples of your recent work. Please note that you don’t have to submit what you would like to have workshopped if selected. The closing date for applications is 16 April 2019, 12 noon.

An initial selection panel will choose a long-list of applicants with a 50/50 gender balance. These applications will then be submitted to the final selection panel, who will make a blind choice entirely based on merit. This panel will be comprised of Tom Poster, John Woolrich, and our consultant, mezzo-soprano and Artistic Director of Wild Plum Arts, Lucy Schaufer.

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When will I find out if my application is successful?

We aim to contact all applicants by 3 May and will ask for delivery of initial scores for the Academy by 3 June. There will be a period of consultation between successful application and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, and Academy Director John Woolrich. Final scores need to be delivered to the Festival by 5 July.

What will I gain from taking part in the Academy?

As well as intensive tuition and development of your composition in an intensive burst of workshops culminating in a high-quality performance and recording of your new work, you will enjoy contact with specialists in the performance of new music, world-renowned composers, and those working in the industry. Above all, the Composer Academy offers a chance to discuss ideas, issues and questions with like-minded peers.

Composer Academy Director Biographies

John Woolrich
John’s music has been performed throughout the world by leading orchestras including the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and all the BBC orchestras. He has written five pieces for the Proms. He has been Artistic Director of both the Aldeburgh Festival and Dartington Summer School.

Lucy Schaufer
The Grammy Award-winning singer has spent her career performing music by and collaborating with living composers, including Oliver Knussen, John Adams, Harrison Birtwistle, John Corigliano, Jake Heggie, George Benjamin, Jonathan Dove, and looks forward to adding women’s names to that list. In concert she’s performed with London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia, BCMG, and Ensemble Modern. Recent work includes recitals at Wigmore Hall and Ravinia Festival, and Modgud in Higgins’s The Monstrous Child (world premiere ROH), Venables’s 4.48 Psychosis at PROTOTYPE FESTIVAL, Susanna in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (LA Opera/CD), Ib in Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus (world premiere Dallas Opera/DVD). She is Artistic Director of Wild Plum Arts.

Tom Poster
Tom Poster has performed concertos with Aurora Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé, Philharmonia, RPO and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and made multiple appearances at the BBC Proms. His chamber music partners include Alison Balsom, Steven Isserlis, Guy Johnston, Matthew Rose and Elena Urioste, and he is pianist of the Aronowitz Ensemble (former BBC New Generation Artists) and founder and artistic director of Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective. Tom has recorded for BIS, Chandos, Decca and Warner Classics. As a composer, Tom has been commissioned by Alison Balsom, Lammermuir Festival and Wigmore Hall, and his chamber opera, The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak, enjoyed a critically-acclaimed three-week run at Wilton’s Music Hall.

Cheltenham Composer Academy was a fantastic opportunity for me that I’m really thankful for, and would recommend to anybody.

Robin Haigh Composer Academy Alumni & BASCA Award Winner 2017

The Cheltenham Music Festival Composer Academy allowed me to work more closely with expert instrumentalists than I ever have had the opportunity before. It was an excellent learning and professional development experience!

Sarah Rimkus, Composer Academy Alumni & 2018 Music Festival Commission

The immersive nature of Composer Academy was fantastic – working and socialising with such good musicians and composers over the course of the week was, aside from being great fun, fabulously developmental to my practice. The extra sessions (alongside the core activity of composition workshops) were an unexpected bonus too!

Arthur Keegan-Boyle, Composer Academy Alumni & Future Blend Project Winner 2017

Please contact our Music Festival team with any questions at