Introducing the new RPS Composers

26 Jul 2019

Meet the eight artists newly joining the Royal Philharmonic Society’s historic roster of composers dating back to Mendelssohn and Beethoven.

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. While we support a range of composers at different stages with individual commissions, our partnership with BBC Radio 3 commissioning works for its New Generation Artists, and through initiatives such as the RPS Drummond Fund for music and dance, 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.

Each of these composers receives a commission from the RPS and a performance with a noted British ensemble, venue or festival. But it doesn’t stop there: we help them plan their next steps, ensuring they can secure future commissions and performances of their own. To achieve this, we are indebted to our partner organisations – the Philharmonia, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Wigmore Hall, Music in the Round, Cheltenham Music Festival and Presteigne Festival – and to our creative funding partners, the ABRSM and PRS Foundation.

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 build the profile and confidence to promote themselves and their music, and help them define and fulfil individual objectives.

Newly in the year ahead, we are especially pleased to further our association with Schott Music who will lend their expertise in nurturing and championing composers on our cohort, providing a range of sessions on the practicalities of being a professional composer and offering individual specialist guidance to help each individual make real progress. Sam Rigby, Managing Director of Schott Music, says ‘Everyone at Schott Music is delighted to be expanding our partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society in this way. The opportunity to share some of our in-house skills and experience with this year’s participants is a very exciting one.’

Over the coming year, we’ll be sharing the cohort’s progress on our website and social media, and developing individual web pages to showcase all their work so far. If you’re looking to commission a fresh and exciting talent, you may find just what you’re looking for right here.

The 2019-20 RPS Composers are:

  • Claire Roberts – writing for the Wigmore Hall, as the Rosie Johnson RPS / Wigmore Hall Apprentice Composer. Claire is a graduate of Oxford University, the Royal Northern College of Music and is now studying a PhD at Bangor University. She’s also a violinist-vocalist with a well-regarded swing band.
  • Hollie Harding – writing for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series. She recently presented the ambitious and immersive Melting, Shifting, Liquid World at the National Maritime Museum, and studied for her PhD at Trinity Laban and her Masters at the Royal Academy of Music.
  • Jocelyn Campbell – writing for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series. A graduate of Middlesex University, Jocelyn has just completed his PhD working with Sir George Benjamin and has a broad portfolio including works for the concert hall, film and television.
  • Joel Järventausta– writing for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series. A Finnish composer also studying for his PhD at King’s with Sir George Benjamin, having completed his Masters at the Royal College of Music. Joel has written for the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Finnish National Opera.
  • Lillie Harris – writing for Cheltenham Music Festival. A Royal College of Music graduate, she is also writing a new choral work for the National Youth Choirs’ Young Composers Scheme, and has been part of LSO Soundhub and the LPO Young Composers.
  • Peter Wilson – writing for Music in the Round. A former dancer and graduate of The Australian Ballet School, Peter studied composition at the Royal College of Music and primarily writes for the concert hall, theatre, film, and dance.
  • Robert Laidlow – writing for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10/10. He is studying for his PhD at the RNCM, is currently Artist in Residence at The Red House in Aldeburgh, and his string quartet, Aroha, was premiered by the Elias Quartet at Wigmore Hall.
  • Robin Haigh – writing for Presteigne Festival. A graduate of Goldsmiths College and the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Eric Coates Prize, Robin is also one of the youngest recipients of a British Composer Award.

In addition to support from the ABRSM and PRS Foundation, the experience we offer the RPS Composers is made possible with help from the Susan Bradshaw Composers' Fund and the Presteigne Festival / Alan Horne Memorial Fund. This year, we launched an Appeal to help fund this initiative and broaden what we can do to support composers at this critical stage in their careers. If you would like to lend them your support, you can read more about the Appeal and all it hopes to achieve.