Composer Academy Showcase I

Composer Academy Showcase I

Applications for Cheltenham Composer Academy 2021 are open

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Apply for FREE from 19 February – 2 April

Fill out the application form

The 8th Cheltenham Composer Academy will run from the afternoon of Monday 5 July to the evening of Friday 9 July 2021.

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 seven years. During the programme, the twelve 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 during 2019-2021

In 2021 Composer Academy will last for five days. All 12 participants will receive professional advice and support, in consultation with the course Director and our two Ensembles-in-Residence, both in advance of the residential days and on site in Cheltenham.

Following the success of this new feature in 2019 (sadly the Music Festival and Academy were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19), the final day of Composer Academy will run alongside, and as part of, Composium, a conference-style day for composers, publishers, artists, managers and members of the public, comprising talks, panel discussions, performances and networking opportunities. All 12 compositions will be premiered at Composium, providing an exciting platform for Academy participants, with an audience comprising influential music industry members. In 2021 these performances will be followed by a brief Q&A session with the audience allowing composers to receive first-hand thoughts and feedback on their works.

When is the Composer Academy?

Participants will arrive on the morning of Monday 5 July and depart on the evening of Friday 9 July. Public showcases of works created during the Composer Academy will take place on Friday 9 July as part of Composium.

Who will I be writing and working with?

We are delighted to announce that Daniel Kidane will be the Composer Academy Director for 2021. 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, and Daniel’s commissions range from Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Cheltenham Music Festival.

Daniel Kidane 

Participants will have the choice of writing a short work for one of two professional ensembles. In 2021 we welcome The Carice Singers (8 piece a cappella ensemble, four parts SATB), one of the UK’s most distinctive emerging vocal ensembles, led by George Parris, and a chamber ensemble handpicked by Chi-chi Nwanoku from Chineke! Orchestra (violin, cello, clarinet, horn). You may write for the whole Chineke! ensemble or select a combination of instruments (solo, duo, trio etc). Both ensembles will be in residence for the duration of the Academy and will workshop each piece alongside tuition from Daniel Kidane during sessions from Monday 5 to Friday 9 July. The target duration of the piece is around 4 minutes, and composers will be asked to submit an initial draft score at the end of May for the ensemble to prepare. The score will need to be c.90% completed and sent to the Festival office by Monday 28 June. In addition to the composition workshops, participants will also receive career development sessions with industry members on a variety of subjects.

Carice Singers 1.jpg
The Carice Singers 

Which composers’ works will I hear?

Other composers whose music you will hear and some of whom you may get the chance to meet during the Academy include Luke Styles, Matthew Whittall, Lillie Harris, Jonathan Woolgar, Sarah Nicolls, Maja Bugge, Jack McNeil, Freya Waley-Cohen, and Propellor Ensemble amongst others.

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 2021 the course will cost £90. 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 £50 per person (plus accommodation).

How do I apply?

Fill out the 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 only have to submit your Academy composition if you are selected for the scheme. The closing date for applications is 2 April 2021 at 5pm.

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.

When will I find out if my application is successful?

We aim to contact all applicants by 12 April and will ask for delivery of initial scores for the Academy by 28 May. Following this, a feedback period will take place between composers, our professional ensembles, and Academy Director Daniel Kidane. 90% finished scores need to be delivered to the Festival by 28 June.

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.

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