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RNS Young Composers' Competition Open

Posted on 21 May 2019

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Royal Northern Sinfonia is passionate about the sound world of the classical chamber orchestra – the committed playing; the importance of each individual contribution; the clarity, finesse and focus of sound it can produce. That’s why we are always keen to add new works to our repertoire for the core chamber orchestra line-up.

As we celebrate 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, Royal Northern Sinfonia is commissioning five young composers to write a piece in response to his body of work. These new commissions will be performed by RNS in the North East in the context of a Beethoven symphony cycle in the 2020 calendar year.


To apply, please submit the following to by 9am on Monday 17 June.

  • An anonymous portfolio of two original scores as PDFs, including at least one for a large instrumental ensemble
  • Anonymous audio files (MP3 or WAV) of the works, where possible
  • An anonymous proposal for a piece of up to 8 minutes in response to Beethoven (maximum 500 words)
  • A composer CV or biography
  • An anonymous (not including your name) reference from a member of composition staff at your university/college about your work. Referees should send references directly to

Stage One – Shortlisting

From the submissions, a gender-balanced shortlist of composers will be selected. Those shortlisted will be asked to develop a piece from their proposal which will then be workshopped by RNS in the Autumn.

Submissions will be assessed by a panel of experienced composers using the following criteria:

  • Creativity and development of musical ideas
  • Sustainability for chamber orchestra context
  • Appropriate technical ability for the orchestra
  • Originality of compositions
  • High standard of score presentation and formatting

Stage Two – Commissions

From the shortlist, five composers will be commissioned to complete their original piece to be performed by RNS across the North East during 2020:

  • Scores for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings (
  • Auxiliary instruments can be used (piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, cor anglais, E flat clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabassoon), but no other additional instruments are permitted


Composers offered a commission will receive £1000 each.

Criteria and Eligibility

The competition is open to all students studying full or part-time at a UK university or conservatoire at undergraduate or post-graduate level during the 19/20 academic year.

Previously performed or commissioned works and previous award winners are not eligible.