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

Introducing the 2021-22 RPS Composers

06 Aug 2021

We are pleased to announce the seven composers newly joining the 2021-22 RPS Composers programme, representing some of the brightest, most exciting voices in the UK.

Over the course of the coming year each will work with and write a new composition for one of our valued 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. Alongside this, we will be supporting the composers with a programme of sessions and activities to develop the vital skills, confidence and contacts they need to establish their careers. In this, we are hugely grateful to Schott Music and our guest session leaders, who will be sharing their expertise.

Click each composer’s name below to find out more about them and their work:

  • 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.

RPS General Manager, Robin Sheffield, says:

‘We are thrilled to welcome this group of composers to the 2021-22 RPS Composers programme. Each one of them shows such exciting promise and we’re delighted not only to support them in their next steps, but also for them to draw on each others’ own individual diverse backgrounds and experience. As ever, we are so grateful to our partners and the professional composers who helped us decide this year’s cohort, having received an overwhelming number of applications. In continuing our efforts to be as open and inclusive as possible, we are proud to adhere to Sound and Music's Fair Access Principles and to PRS Foundation’s KeyChange initiative to achieve 50:50 gender parity in the composers we support. What’s more, as we strive to see what more we can do for the many talented composers we cannot offer a place to, we’re pleased to signpost various other opportunities and also recommend them to colleagues in the profession.’

We are grateful to a range of donors for supporting our work with the composers 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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