Clockwise from top left: Lucy Armstrong, Andrew Chen, Rylan Gleave, Alex Ho, Angela Slater, Sarah Lianne Lewis, Zakiya Leeming

Current Composers

The 2021-22 RPS Composers were announced in August 2021, selected by a panel comprising professional composers and representatives from our partner organisations.

The 2021-22 RPS Composers are:

  • Lucy Armstrong - writing for the Wigmore Hall as the Rosie Johnson RPS Wigmore Hall Apprentice Composer. Lucy describes her writing as eclectic and theatrical. Alongside composing for the concert hall and stage, her outreach work is hugely important to her, both as a teacher and composition facilitator for primary school children.
  • Andrew Chen - writing for Cheltenham Music Festival. Andrew’s recent works have focused particularly on ideas and percepts of ‘the human’ within music. He has previously collaborated with Explore Ensemble, The Hermes Experiment and the Royal Academy of Arts, is a member of The Ivors Academy's Youth Council, and is also an active jazz pianist.
  • Rylan Gleave - writing for Presteigne Festival. Named by The Scotsman as ‘One to Watch’ 2021, Rylan is a Glasgow-based composer and vocalist. His compositions often draw on his own experience as a trans Disabled artist, exploring the impact of intersectional marginalised identity on musical practice.
  • Alex Ho - writing for Manchester Camerata. A British-Chinese composer, Alex’s music explores issues of cultural identity and social consciousness, across concert works and interdisciplinary projects including dance, architecture and VR. He is also Co-Director of Tangram, an artist collective made up of composers, researchers, and performers of Chinese and western instruments.
  • Zakiya Leeming - writing for Riot Ensemble. Zakiya's musical ideas draw inspiration from science, with particular interests in physics, chemistry and medicine. Informed by her own personal experience, her work often considers how to bring arts and science together for change.
  • Sarah Lianne Lewis - writing for the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Composer Affiliate with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Sarah's music explores the boundaries between acoustic and electronic sound. She often looks at themes of climate change, the natural world and the human condition in her work, drawing on her perspective as a female disabled artist.
  • Angela Slater - writing for Music in the Round. Angela’s music explores dialogues between science, visual arts, dance and politics, and the ways these can be expressed musically. She is particularly passionate about raising the profile of female artists, namely through Illuminate Women’s Music of which she is the Founder and Director.

    Since its foundation in 1813, the Royal Philharmonic Society has continually supported composers and brought new music to the stage. In its early years, it was central in establishing a repertory that remains much-loved today. It commissioned Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and supported the young Mendelssohn in his early twenties, commissioning his popular ‘Italian’ Symphony.

    Ever since, the RPS has strived to help composers whose voices deserve to be heard. Each year we principally help a cohort of composers setting out to make a career for themselves. Establishing yourself as a professional composer is especially difficult. It doesn’t just take remarkable talent: it takes great confidence, initiative and imagination to create opportunities for yourself.

    As detailed above, each of these composers receives a commission from the RPS and a performance with a noted British ensemble, venue or festival. To achieve this, we are indebted to our partner organisations: Cheltenham Music Festival, Music in the Round, Presteigne Festival and Wigmore Hall with whom we've collaborated for a number of years, and also newly this year Manchester Camerata, Riot Ensemble and the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

    Over the course of their year with us, leading up to their premieres, the composers not only gain a practical understanding of how the profession works and meet valuable contacts. We help them plan their next steps, ensuring they can secure future commissions and performances of their own. We help them build the profile and confidence to promote themselves and their music, and help them define and fulfil individual objectives through a range of professional development sessions. In this, we are hugely grateful to Schott Music and our guest session leaders, who will be sharing their expertise.

    Our thanks to the range of donors who support our work here including the ABRSM, Delius Trust, Fidelio Charitable Trust, Garrick Charitable Trust, PRS Foundation, the RVW Trust, Presteigne Festival, the Susan Bradshaw Composers' Fund and 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.

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