Notes from Scotland

Notes from Scotland is an exciting competition for young composers aged 12-18 years.

Young composers have the opportunity to attend an afternoon workshop, where they receive top tips from composition experts, before submitting a short work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet. (Attendance at the workshop is not compulsory.) The live final is held in the New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where five shortlisted pieces will be performed and recorded by RSNO musicians for an audience and panel of judges. The winning composer will receive a pair of Bose SoundLink® headphones and enjoy VIP access to RSNO concerts.

Notes from Scotland 2018

Sarah Smith

Winning Composition: Clearances

Sarah Smith, aged 17, has attended the Junior School within the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for three years where she studied piano with Heather Slade-Lipkin and Saša Gerželj-Donaldson, as well as studying composition with Audrey McPherson. Sarah has recently left Belmont Academy – where she was the Willie F Stewart Dux Medallist – and is now preparing for her studies at The University of Edinburgh as a music student. Recently, Sarah was a prize-winner at the 2018 Plug Festival for the Juniors students of RCS.

Seventeen-year-old Sarah Smith was the winner of the 2018 Notes from Scotland, with her piece, Clearances, written for Flute, Bass Clarinet, Piano, Violin and Cello.

Rudi Paul was highly commended for his piece, Colony, written for violin, viola, cello, flute and clarinet.

Following the closing date for entries, five works were chosen to be performed by RSNO musicians in the New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in front of a panel of judges including RSNO Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson and Scottish composers Jay Capperauld and Oliver Searle. As the winner, Sarah Smith received a pair of Bose SoundLink® headphones, as well as VIP access to future RSNO concerts.

Panelist and RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler:
“This is an exciting and all-too-rare opportunity for our younger composers to have their work performed by professional musicians and have the chance to integrate and communicate with their fellow contemporaries as well those who have established their careers in the business.”

Notes From Scotland 2017

Alexander Papp

Winning Composition: Progeny

Alexander Papp, age 16, is in Year 11 at Bedford School, where he is a Music Scholar. Alexander studies violin at Junior Guildhall (JGSM) with Gonzalo Acosta and composition with Paul Whitmarsh and Emma-Ruth Richards. Currently, he is an Associate Composer with the Britten Sinfonia Academy, who performed his piece The Book of Hours at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and workshopped his piece Divergent on stage at the Barbican with Sir James MacMillan. In September 2017, Alexander took up a scholarship at the Purcell School, following which he intends to pursue a career as a composer.

Sixteen-year-old Alexander Papp was the winner of the 2017 Notes from Scotland, the RSNO's composition competition for 12- to 18-year-olds, presented in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland.

Following the closing date for entries, four works were chosen to be performed by an RSNO ensemble in the New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in front of a panel of judges including Scottish composers Jennifer Martin and Oliver Searle. Alexander received an iPad Pro with music software packages included, as well as VIP access to future RSNO concerts.

The theme for the competition was taken from Scotland’s outstanding landmarks; Culzean Castle, Ayrshire; Glen Coe, The Highlands; Hill House, Argyll and Bute; Newhailes, Edinburgh, and House of Dun, Angus.

Panelist and RSNO Artistic Director for Learning and Engagement William Chandler:
“The year’s Notes from Scotland composition competition was the largest and most competitive one ever. Pieces were submitted from as far away as New York City and from composers as young as twelve years old. I don’t envy the judges’ task in choosing a winner this year but am thrilled that Progeny by Alexander Papp has been awarded the top prize. Congratulations to Alexander for a truly remarkable work and a huge thank you to all who entered.”

Panelist and Composer Jennifer Martin:
“The culmination of projects like Notes from Scotland are always incredibly inspiring. The four finalists have us the full range of emotional responses to the National Trust for Scotland properties which provided their inspiration. Our winner, Alexander Papp, is one to watch!”

Notes From Scotland 2017 winner Alexander Papp:
“I am delighted to win this prestigious award! I never thought I would reach the final so winning it was just a dream come true! I would like to thank the RSNO for giving me this immense opportunity. I will remember it for the rest of my life.”

Notes From Scotland 2016

James Nicolson

Winning Composition: White Oasis

Eighteen-year-old James Nicolson was the winner of the 2016 Notes from Scotland, the RSNO's composition competition for 12- to 18-year-olds, presented in partnership with the Festival of Architecture 2016 and as part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Following the closing date for entries in May five works were chosen to be performed by an RSNO ensemble at the Orchestra’s New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in front of a panel of judges including Scottish composer Jennifer Martin, who James Nicolson’s work White Oasis, inspired by the architecture of the recently-restored Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, as the winning entry.

James received an iPad with music software packages included, as well as VIP access to future RSNO concerts.

Panelist and Composer Jennifer Martin:
“The variety of work we see in the course of this initiative is really inspiring. The brief, to express something of a piece of contemporary architecture in sound, is not easy, but our winner did just that. James Nicolson captured the essence of the building and its environmental context beautifully.”

Notes From Scotland 2016 winner James Nicolson:
“The day of the final was incredible. Hearing the other finalists’ pieces and getting to meet the other young composers from across Scotland and hearing what inspired their pieces was fantastic. One of the highlights of the whole competition was the rehearsal where the young composes discussed with members of the RSNO how we wanted our compositions to be played. Watching these highly skilled musicians at work was a huge honour and their efficiency and professionalism was awe-inspiring. The whole competition is a fantastic idea and I am thrilled to have been part of such a special event.”

© Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2018