Establishing yourself as a professional composer is rarely easy. Despite having the talent, emerging composers often do not have the confidence, contacts and wherewithal to create new opportunities for themselves.
Annually, the Royal Philharmonic Society aims to transform the prospects of promising composers, helping them take their first critical steps in establishing a career. We not only grant a range of commissions and the chance for your work to be performed with a noted ensemble or festival: we also aim to help you develop the means to seek further commissions and performances of your own. This comes through a range of activities, including the opportunity to meet and draw insights from professional composers and key figures in the music business, workshops to develop skills that will enable you to promote yourself and your music, and individual sessions to define personal objectives that we will help you to fulfil. Furthermore we will give you an insight into the range of settings in which you and your music can have real impact. All our composers will spend time experiencing the vital education initiatives our partner organisations deliver, giving you a sense both of the responsibility and the many opportunities you have to enrich other’s lives. Additionally, we will proudly present you as an RPS Composer, part of a distinguished lineage that goes back to Beethoven and Mendelssohn, helping you get the recognition your music deserves.
‘This sort of support is like gold-dust at this point in my career.’
Laurence Osborn, RPS Composer 2018
What does the RPS offer? Annually we grant around eight commissions – each worth £2,500 – for a chamber or solo work plus its premiere performance with a leading ensemble, venue or festival in the UK. Each of these valued partners plays a vital role in your experience, giving you a practical insight into a range of their creative work and how you as a composer can most fruitfully collaborate with more such organisations in future. Over the course of a year, the composers will also attend a number of sessions designed to help set goals, make plans, and establish a good footing in the music profession, meeting contacts who will be invaluable for their future.
Our current cohort of composers are writing for the the Philharmonia, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Wigmore Hall, Music in the Round, Cheltenham Music Festival and Presteigne Festival. To give you a greater impression of what is offered, you can read about our current commissions and the composers fulfilling them.
Who is it open to? Vitally, you should be at a stage where you are able to demonstrate genuine commitment to establishing a career as a composer, both in what you write in your application, and also in the proficiency of the music you submit. You may have recently graduated or be coming to the end of their studies, but equally a formal degree or equivalent qualification is not compulsory. We recognise that composers pursue many different routes, so we look forward to hearing your individual story.
While we do not generally grant opportunities to those studying full-time in the year ahead, recommending they focus on all that their college or university can offer them, we will consider applications from composers aged 18 and over on the closing date.
What is meant by ‘emerging’ composers? Nobody likes labels but we’re using this term purely in promoting this opportunity to help convey that it isn’t just for ‘young’ or ‘graduate’ composers. It is for those in the process of establishing their careers at any age: we recognise that composers can find their calling, and the chance to fully embrace it, at various stages in life. We only ask that you are at least 18 years old and that you are not studying full-time in the year ahead. We look forward to hearing from a wide range of applicants and, if you’d like a provisional chat to one of the team about whether it might suit your current circumstances, you are very welcome to contact us on 020 7287 0019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I apply?
When applications open, you will be able to download a set of ‘Application Guidelines’ from this page which outlines everything involved. We recommend you read it before applying and continue to consult it throughout the process. We ask you to complete our online application form and also submit three of your compositions for consideration by our panel – details of how to do this can be found in the Applications Guidelines. Selected applicants are then invited for an interview in London to talk more about your music and aspirations.
What does it cost? Thanks to generous support from our partners ABRSM last year, we were happy to announce that we removed the entry fee, meaning it is free for eligible candidates to apply. If you are shortlisted for interview in London, you would generally need to cover your own travel expenses, but do talk to us if you are concerned that this may prevent you attending.
When is the closing date? Applications for 2019 have now closed and will reopen in Spring 2020.
Is this the 'RPS Composition Prize'? Yes, this is the opportunity previously known as the 'RPS Composition Prize' though we've changed the name to reflect that it offers more of a lasting association with the Royal Philharmonic Society, given that its recipients join our distinguished roster of composers which dates back 200 years.
The RPS has a long tradition of supporting composers, dating back to Beethoven. We are only able to keep helping composers thanks to a generous family of individual donors, trusts and corporate sponsors. If you would like to help us in this, please click here to find out how to get involved. Even the smallest gesture is greatly appreciated.