What is Composer Academy?


Composer Academy is an intensive programme that supports early-career composers (aged 18+ years) who are looking to gain professional advice and mentoring to further their career.   


The programme is wide-ranging and has proved highly influential for composers taking part. 

During the programme, participants will: 

  • Have their compositions workshopped, performed and recorded  


  • Take part in group and 1:1 discussion with fellow participants and course leads 


  • Receive talks from industry professionals 


  • Attend a range of premiere performances at Cheltenham Music Festival 


  • Have networking opportunities with guests and Festival artists 

Participants will receive professional advice and support from the course director and our musicians-in-residence both in advance of the course and on site in Cheltenham.

The course culminates in showcases of the participants’ work to a live audience at two Composium events. Composium will include Q&A sessions with the audience allowing composers to receive first-hand thoughts and feedback on their works. 

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. 

Who is Composer Academy for?

Composer Academy is designed for early-career composers who are taking their initial steps into a professional career.


Participants must be aged over 18 but there is no upper age limit. We welcome and encourage applications from individuals of any background who identify as early-career composers.  


Participants do not need to have had formal education in composition but must have some prior experience in creating music.


We ask applicants to provide examples of their previous work. There is no requirement to have previously worked with classical music, but applicants will need to demonstrate an interest in and ability to work with ‘classical’ forces/ensembles.  

When is Composer Academy?

Participants will need arrive on the morning of Monday 10 July and will depart on the evening of Friday 14 July.


Public showcases of works created during Composer Academy will take place on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 July as part of Cheltenham Music Festival.  

Who will I be working with?

We are delighted to announce that composer Daniel Kidane will be back as the Academy Director for 2022. The Festival’s relationship with Daniel goes back to 2013 when he was a member of our first ever Composer Academy.


In 2019 the BBC Symphony Orchestra premiered his work Woke at the Last Night of the Proms. Daniel has written music for a range of artists from harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Cheltenham Music Festival. 

Participants will have the opportunity to write a short work for vocal ensemble, and we’re delighted to be welcoming the Carice Singers, directed by George Parris as our ensemble in residence.


The Carice Singers are emerging as a distinctive ensemble comfortable in a breadth of repertoire from British 19th- and early 20th-century choral music to new commission. They previously joined the Composer Academy in 2021.  


Works should aim to be five minutes long and for unaccompanied 8-voice SATB vocal ensemble (plus conductor), with a range of C2-C6.  It will not be possible to include electronics in compositions.  

How much will it cost?

The programme is heavily subsidised by generous funders which means course fees are kept low.


In 2023 the course will cost £90 per person. This includes coaching, talks, concert tickets and lunch each day. 


Single room bed and breakfast accommodation is available and paid for separately by participants. Costs will be confirmed with participants, and are expected to be around £40 per night.   


A limited number of bursaries are available for participants on a low income or feel they genuinely cannot participate in the course for financial reasons.   


Applicants not selected as full Academy participants will may be invited to attend as one of a limited number of observer composers. The observer rate is £50 per person (plus accommodation).  

What will I gain from taking part in the Academy? 

As well as intensive tuition and development of your composition in 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.  

Key Dates

Application deadline: 1 March 2023 


Application outcome: by end March 2023  


Initial score deadline (70%-80%): 22 May 2023 


Final score deadline (90%): 22 June 2023 


Composer Academy: 10-14 July 2023 


Composium showcases: 13 & 14 July 2023 


Cheltenham Music Festival: 8-15 July 2023

What is Composer Academy?

What is Composer Academy?

Meet the composers from Composer Academy 2022

Meet the composers from Composer Academy 2022