Composing for Dance: RPS Drummond Fund

As long as there has been music, there has been dance. The Royal Philharmonic Society is proud to help composers and choreographers bring exciting new works to life, through the RPS Drummond Fund.

The Fund was established in 2007 in memory of the writer, broadcaster and lifelong dance aficionado Sir John Drummond CBE and his friend, the English born Diaghilev dancer, Lydia Sokolova.

Till now, the Fund has given a series of grants ranging from £8,000 to £17,000, each in the form of a commission fee enabling a composer to write a piece for which several performances are planned with dancers and live musicians.

This year, we are pleased to set out new terms for the Fund which will result in a grant of up to £25,000. Recognising the increasing challenge and expense of staging dance with live music, we hope this enlarged grant will enable practitioners to activate plans that may not otherwise have been possible, making a difference to their progress and profile. What might you do with such funds? Let us know.

Who can apply?

UK-based professional dance artists, choreographers, companies, festivals or venues with at least two years’ standing, looking to commission a composer to write new music for performance that will involve live instrumental musicians or singers.

Alternatively, the application can come from a composer so long as they have plans and performance outcomes taking shape with a choreographer and dancers.

Applicants should express why a project like this will have worth for themselves and/or their company and their audience, and what they hope to achieve with it that they have not previously.

What sort of composer?

The composer may be an emerging or established artist but must have some proven acumen for writing music of character and distinction for live instruments or singers.

If you would like to undertake a project like this but would like our help suggesting and introducing a composer with whom you could collaborate, we are happy to chat. The RPS has a 200-year history of commissioning outstanding composers dating back to Beethoven and would be pleased to foster an introduction for you with an artist whose creative aspirations ally with your own. Please do not hesitate to contact us about this in advance of submitting an application.

How should the grant be used?

We recognise that all practitioners are different. Some may simply value the means to pay a composer to write music for them. Others might want to devote some initial funds to research and development, so a composer and choreographer can experiment and test new ground together, before embarking on a piece. Others may need help to hire musicians and stage the ensuing performances, or capture it digitally to share with wider audiences.

In your application, you should give us a picture of all your major project costs, how you would like to assign the RPS Drummond Fund’s support to these, and where you intend to find the remaining funds.

What performance outcomes are expected?

It is unlikely that we would support a project that culminates in just one performance. We generally expect there to be several performances either in an initial run or planned for later stages after the premiere. Critically we are keen to ensure that funded works endure in some regard, so ask all applicants to express how they may achieve this, either through a number of performances, by a commitment to adding the work to their repertory, and/or through its digital capture which may be used to interest future promoters or so it may be seen online for posterity.

Your first performance should ideally fall within two years of the closing date for entries, but do let us know if, for any legitimate reason, you anticipate it may be after this.

What do we ask in return?

We principally ask that, at every reasonable opportunity around the premiere and future performances, as well as online and in the work’s score, it is acknowledged that the work was commissioned in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society with funding from the RPS Drummond Fund. A set of guidelines for such acknowledgement is presented to the recipient with their grant offer.

How can I apply?

We aim to keep applications straightforward. You should send a written submission to James Murphy, Chief Executive of the Royal Philharmonic Society, by email to admin[at]

In this, please

  • tell us about your project, including details of the composer, choreographer, company (if applicable) and any other key artists, and what you collectively hope to achieve.
  • tell us about your intended performances (with provisional dates / venues if known) and how -through further performances, digitally, or other means - you hope to ensure the work endures.
  • indicate what funds (up to a maximum of £25,000) you are seeking, how you would assign these, providing a picture of your overall budget for the project and an indication of where you intend to find the remaining funds.

The closing date for entries is midday on Friday 31 May 2019 and we hope to announce who will receive this year’s grant in July 2019.

If you would like any guidance in making an application, or to establish if your plans are eligible for consideration, please do not hesitate to contact the RPS office on 020 7287 0019.

Please note, applications are considered by an advisory board comprising experts in the dance and contemporary music professions, and their decision is final.


Ricardo Castro: International pianist who established a flourishing youth music programme in Bahià, Brazil. Awarded RPS Honorary Membership in 2013.


In 'The Red Headed League', Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson attended a performance by the violinist Sarasate at a Society concert in 1891.