In 2019 Cheltenham Music Festival celebrates its 75th Anniversary with Composium; a conference day devised by Artistic Director Alison Balsom for anyone working or studying in classical music. We are also offering a limited number of special access tickets for members of the public.

Founded in 1945 to provide a post-war platform for British composers, Cheltenham Music Festival has remained synonymous with contemporary classical music, even as its programme has broadened across the decades. Composium looks to deepen and develop this connection, with a day of talks and panel sessions focused on the challenges facing contemporary classical music in the 21st century, alongside a number of world premieres and networking opportunities. We want to provoke discussion, encourage open debate and foster new collaborations, never shying away from the difficult questions the industry must address in order to thrive in a time of considerable change.

Eminent composer Thea Musgrave CBE opens the day as keynote speaker, alongside Alison Balsom, with musicologist and broadcaster Katy Hamilton as the day’s facilitator. Other confirmed contributors include James Murphy (Chief Executive, Royal Philharmonic Society), Lucy Schaufer (Mezzo-soprano and Artistic Director, Wild Plum Arts), Hannah Kendall (Composer), Vanessa Reed (CEO, PRS Foundation), Denzyl Feigelson (Special Advisor, Apple Inc and iTunes), Zoe Martlew (Composer) and Harriet Wybor (PRS for Music – Classical). Full line-up to be released shortly.

Performers include Lucy Schaufer and Huw Watkins (piano), Elizabeth Karani (soprano) and Gabriel Cabezas (cello) and Tom Poster’s Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective. They will be presenting world premieres from Zoe Martlew and Emma-Ruth Richards as part of the Wild Plum Arts Songbook project, plus a new composition by Lisa Robertson, workshopped and produced in association with PRS for Music and Wild Plum Arts, supported by the RVW Trust.

Our eight Composer Academy participants bring their brand-new work to the stage for the first time, following intensive workshops with composer John Woolrich and Ensemble-in-Residence The Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective. Composer Academy is kindly supported by Penny McCracken & John Mumford, The John S Cohen Foundation and The Michael Tippett Musical Foundation.

In partnership with PRS for Music and Wild Plum Arts

Composium Full Schedule
(please note that running order and timings are subject to change)

10:00am Arrival, registration and refreshments
10:30am Welcome: Alison Balsom and Keynote Speech: Thea Musgrave CBE
10:55am Performance I: Lisa Robertson Speak Up introduced by Lucy Schaufer and Christopher Gillett of Wild Plum Arts
11:10am Talk I: James Murphy
11:25am Break
11:50am Panel Session I: Contemporary Music in 2019
12:45pm Lunch
1:35pm Performance II: Composer Academy Showcase
2:00pm Talk II: Denzyl Feigelson
2:20pm Performance III: Emma-Ruth Richards Violated Blossoms
2:40pm Break
3:00pm Panel Session II: The Digital Landscape
3:50pm Performance IV: Composer Academy Showcase
4:20pm Talk III: Hannah Kendall
4:45pm Performance V: Zoe Martlew Musae
5:10pm Round-up, summary and thanks
5:30pm Closing industry drinks

Ticket Information

Public ticket: £55 plus booking fee; food and drink will be available to purchase at the venue. Special prices available for music industry attendees and students in higher education

Industry members: £70 plus booking fee; wristband access to networking sessions including refreshments, lunch, and closing drinks reception (not accessible to members of the public)

Students in full-time or higher education: £38 person plus booking fee; wristband access to networking sessions including refreshments, lunch, and closing drinks reception (not accessible to members of the public)

Liberal Democrat Pittville Ward Councillor Dennis Parsons has issued a trial closure of West Approach Drive gates at Pittville Pump Room from Monday 1 July to Sunday 14 July. We ask if you’re travelling by car to the venue please take Albert Road and use the East Approach Drive gate instead of the West Approach Drive gate as this will be closed.


Pittville Pump Room

Pittville Pump Room is an elegant Grade 1 listed Regency building and perhaps the most famous example of Regency architecture in Cheltenham. Standing in regal splendour at one end of Pittville Park, the Pump Room is a monument to more than 100 years of fame that Cheltenham enjoyed as a Spa town.

The Festival’s morning recitals at the Pump Room are its continuing glory

The Sunday Times

*Fees & Booking Info

Our booking fee

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