RPS Composers programme

Applications for the 2025 RPS Composers programme are now closed, but information about the programme remains here for reference.

Here follows information on the programme and how to apply. If you may like this information in a different format, for accessibility reasons, please call us on 020 7287 0019 or use our online contact form by clicking this link, and we will do our best to help.

Establishing yourself as a professional composer is rarely easy and, in a challenging funding landscape following the consequences of the pandemic, this has undoubtedly become even harder.

Annually, the Royal Philharmonic Society Composers programme aims to transform the prospects of promising UK-based composers. We are pleased to welcome applications for the 2025 programme.

Besides offering a commission - performed with one of a range of noted ensembles, venues and festivals - we support a cohort of composers at critical turning points in establishing their careers, helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to seek further commissions and performances of their own beyond the programme. We’re looking for composers secure in their compositional writing who are in the early stages of their careers and will benefit from a year-long range of sessions and activities. Composers will join us for some preliminary sessions in Autumn 2024, before the programme fully gets underway in January 2025.

The RPS Composers programme includes the opportunity to meet and draw insights from key figures in the music business and professional composers, group sessions to fuel your confidence and ability to promote yourself and your music, and individual sessions looking at your own personal objectives and how we might help you fulfil them. Through the programme, we aim to give you an insight into the range of settings in which you and your music can have real impact, encouraging you to think more about the scope of everything you can do as a professional composer.

Timeline

6 February 2024 applications open

20 March 2024 applications close at 11am

April-May 2024 applications reviewed by expert panel

June 2024 all applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted by the end of the month

July 2024 interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place

August 2024 places and partner ensembles and organisations will be confirmed

October 2024 the 2025 RPS Composers programme cohort will be announced

Autumn 2024 initial sessions and conversations with partner ensembles and organisations

January 2025 professional development sessions continue and composers begin writing

April-December 2025 composers receive their premieres

By being selected for the programme, we will proudly present you as an RPS Composer, part of a lineage that goes back to Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and has more recently supported composers like Charlotte Bray and Daniel Kidane, helping you get the recognition your music deserves. Your continued success matters to us and, once the programme is over, we aim to find an occasion to bring the cohort back together, giving you chance to reflect with us and each other on what you have achieved resulting from your RPS experience and what further resolutions you next need to make.

Find out about our current cohort of RPS Composers.

'The RPS Composers programme was absolutely invaluable for me at this early stage of my career, in terms of networking opportunities, understanding the industry, and collaborating with professional performers.' Rylan Gleave, RPS Composer 2022
'The RPS Composers programme is an incredibly thoughtfully structured programme which supports composers at a crucial time in their development. The professional development sessions were brilliantly programmed and a great opportunity to brush up on skills and connect with important people in the industry. Working with my partner organisation allowed me to have a premiere performance at a major UK festival and I have been able to experiment musically and explore ideas of spatialisation in sound which I have not previously had the time (or space) to consider.' Soosan Lolavar, RPS Composer 2023

What does the RPS offer?

Usually we grant around seven commissions which we expect to have a value of £2,750 each, 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 their creative work and how you as a composer can most fruitfully collaborate with more organisations like them in future. Additionally, from Autumn 2024 you will attend a number of sessions through the year designed for you to make plans and enable you to establish a good footing in the music profession, meeting contacts who will be invaluable for your future. We are particularly grateful to Schott Music - with whom the RPS shares its premises - whose team lend their expertise to several of these sessions helping our composers address a range of practicalities of being a professional composer and offer individual specialist guidance. Most of these sessions will take place remotely over Zoom, but we may hold some of them in person where it is practical to do so. We estimate all such activity will take place across approximately 15-20 days over the course of the year.

Our current cohort of composers is writing for Cheltenham Music Festival, Hebrides Ensemble, The Hermes Experiment, The Marian Consort, Music in the Round, Presteigne Festival and Wigmore Hall Learning. To give you a general impression of what is offered, you can read about our current commissions and the composers fulfilling them on our website. While plans are still taking shape, we expect a similar range of opportunities to be offered in the year ahead. Before finalising our partners for 2025, we look forward to meeting shortlisted composers at interview and hearing more about your plans and aspirations.

With each partner, we will set the brief and parameters for the work you are going to write in the first months of the programme with a view to you being able to make significant headway with it from the start of 2025. Each will have its own submission date, likely a month or two before performance, and premieres take place from April to December 2025.

Who is it open to?

The programme is for composers of any nationality based in the UK who plan to build their career here. Accordingly, the content of our year-round sessions is based on principles and situations you will encounter in the UK music profession, and led by UK industry experts. Furthermore, we strive for our cohort of composers to meet online or in person as a group throughout the year, and it is anticipated that each composer will visit the UK ensemble, venue or festival for whom they are composing.

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. For most people, this programme is likely to be most useful when you have already been working in the music profession in some capacity and are looking to reach the next level. You may have graduated in the last few years, or some time ago. Equally, a formal degree or equivalent qualification is not compulsory. We recognise that composers pursue many different routes at different stages in their lives, so we look forward to hearing your individual story.

Please note, this opportunity is not open to those studying at Undergraduate or Masters level from September 2024 onwards. If you are still studying, we recommend that you focus on all that your college or university can offer, and you’re welcome to apply in a future year. Composers working towards a PhD are welcome to apply. Equally, given its purpose to help establish your career, this opportunity is only for those aged 18 and above.

We're always keen to hear from those who have not considered applying to the RPS before, but you are equally welcome to apply again if you have in a previous year, so long as you take the time in your application to tell us what has been creatively occupying you since you last applied. If you are applying again, please don’t simply duplicate what you told us about yourself last time.

We are continually striving to address how we can minimise barriers to the widest possible range of applicants. We are proud to have adopted Sound and Music's Fair Access Principles and are also signed up to the Keychange initiative, aiming to achieve 50:50 parity of marginalised genders in the composers we support. We warmly welcome applications from composers of all backgrounds, particularly under-represented demographics, such as those who represent the global majority, those who are disabled, and those from working class backgrounds. If you feel that any part of our offer - or the experience in applying for it - could inhibit you or another candidate from applying, please do let us know (our contact details are below) and we will be happy to address this.

What is the process?

Applications can be made via our online application form. Applicants should complete the form themselves where possible, but may elect another person to complete it on their behalf if needed. You will also need to submit two of your compositions for consideration by our panel – details of how to do this can be found in the Application Guidelines. We will notify all applicants if they have been selected for interview by the end of June, and thank you for your patience. Selected applicants will be invited to a short interview in July - to be held on Zoom - to talk more about your music and aspirations.

What does it cost to apply?

There is no application fee or cost to apply.

When is the closing date?

The closing date is 11am on Wednesday 20 March 2024. We regret we cannot consider any applications or supporting materials received after that time.

Is this the 'RPS Composition Prize'?

Yes, this is the opportunity previously known as the 'RPS Composition Prize' though we changed the name a few years ago 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.

If you have any further questions, please contact our Administrator, Charlotte Smith, at charlotte@philharmonicsociety.uk or call us on 020 7287 0019.

We are dearly grateful to a range of donors for supporting the RPS Composers programme, including RPS Members, the Delius Trust, The Fidelio Charitable Trust, Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, Idlewild Trust, Presteigne Festival, PRS Foundation Talent Development Network supported by PPL, the Radcliffe Trust, the Susan Bradshaw Composers' Fund, the Vaughan Williams Foundation, and several anonymous donors.

If you would like to consider supporting our work, please do consider joining as an RPS Member. Every subscription helps us to help musicians and composers at key stages in their careers, ensuring classical music continues to thrive for years to come. Find out more here.