Tackling the inconsistency of opportunity for budding young composers

24 May 2023

Home>Foundation News>Tackling the inconsistency of opportunity for budding young composers

If you happened to tune in to Classic FM on the eve of the King’s coronation, you would have had the exceptional experience of hearing ORA Singers perform numerous regal-related pieces, including new, original compositions, and interspersed with readings by Simon Callow. Directed by Suzi Digby OBE, ORA is an award-winning vocal ensemble with the ambition to commission 100 new works by 100 living composers in 10 years.

As world-leading commissioners and performers, they are committed to nurturing the next generation of composers with their Young Composers Programme, which supports young people from state schools to learn the art of composition. The Symondson Foundation is proud to support this initiative, as the charity imbues the next generation with the passion, skill and opportunity to excel as composers.

Commissioning is at the very heart of what we do at ORA Singers and building on this legacy, our Young Composers scheme plays a vital role in developing a diverse array of compositional talent from future generations.’ – ORA

There are two strands to the programme: ‘Young Composers’ and ‘Apprentices’. In the former, 10 students are mentored by 10 professional composers, who have themselves been commissioned by ORA singers in the past. Under the guidance of these mentors, the students develop their skills and areas of interest as they write a new piece that will be performed by ORA at a final showcase concert. On the ‘Apprentices’ programme, 40 students take part in a series of workshops featuring industry experts. The online workshops take place over a 3 month period, and students are guided through key areas of composition, including history, harmony, texture and technique.

There is a serious dearth of musical education in state schools. In independent schools, 50% of students receive sustained music tuition, whereas in state, it was only 15% (UK Music Report, 2018). ORA’s Young Composers Programme was established to tackle the decline in music provision in the state sector, with a particular emphasis on reaching those who face numerous barriers to accessing a quality education in composition. ORA addresses the inconsistency of opportunity in a number of ways. As well as making the programme free of charge to participants and giving special consideration to those who haven’t received forms of private music tuition, applicants can submit any musical piece they have written in either MP3 or written form, meaning that they don’t have to have knowledge of the Western notation system. The mentors and Final Concert Panellists are chosen on the basis that they reflect the diversity of the UK. This year’s Final Concert is taking place in Gloucester, in a conscious move to not make the scheme London-centric. All travel costs for students and their parents are also covered.

The Symondson Foundation is excited to hear what the next generation of composers produce, and seeing how budding talent flourishes under the expert guidance of ORA.

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