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Notes from Scotland is a composing scheme for young composers aged 14-18 years living in Scotland. Through the scheme, young composers will develop their composing talent, learn new skills and meet other young musicians and composers. They will spend six months working with an RSNO composition mentor to write a piece of chamber music, which will then be performed by RSNO musicians.

Young people are invited to apply for the scheme by sending us a sample of their recent work, which will be shortlisted by a panel made up of composers, RSNO musicians and RSNO staff. Five successful candidates will be selected to take part in the scheme.

If you are a Young Scot member you can earn points by applying for Notes from Scotland. Find out more here.

The Scheme

During the course of the scheme the young composers will receive mentoring from a composer associated with the RSNO, who will be there to guide them through the process of writing a piece of chamber music. This will take the form of one to one tuition in person, or online.

They will also have the opportunity to attend RSNO concerts, and occasional workshops and masterclasses throughout the scheme.

Participation in the Notes from Scotland Scheme is free.

Applications will be accepted from any region in Scotland, and while you will be invited to travel to Glasgow for the final performance, some of the activity through out the course of the scheme can be undertaken online. Attendance at events at the RSNO Centre is not compulsory to the scheme although we would encourage you to attend where possible.

The Performance

At the end of the scheme (February 2021), five new pieces will be performed by RSNO musicians in front of an audience at a showcase event. All the pieces will be professionally recorded for you to keep.

The Mentors

Oliver Searle – Interim Head of Composition at RCS

Oliver is a Glasgow-based composer and educator, and is currently Interim Head of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has written a wide variety of works for many professional, amateur, youth and theatre organisations, which have been broadcast and performed around the world, and is interested in developing new environments for new music, collaborating with other artists and organisations to find ways to communicate to new audiences. Recent endeavours include: Microscopic Dances, a large-scale, inclusive work for digital orchestra created in collaboration with Drake Music Scotland and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland (winner of a British Composer Award 2018); Sauchiehall, an orchestral piece for an App with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; residencies in South Korea, most recently working on an interdisciplinary project - Pilgrim of Curiosity - with Eunju Shin Dance Company and a light artist, in the city of Busan.

More info about Oliver and his work can be found here.

Jay Capperauld – Composer

Jay graduated Masters in Composition with Distinction from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2014 under the tutelage of Dr Gordon McPherson. Jay has written for various Artists & Ensembles including; BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Psappha Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, The Wallace Collection, Red Note Ensemble, Workers Union Ensemble, the Glasgow New Music Expedition, the Glasgow School of Art Choir and has written solo works for Katherine Bryan of the RSNO, Alison Teale of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012, Laura van der Heijden, and recently wrote a Piano Concerto ‘Endlings’ for the pianist James Willshire, which premiered with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Symphony Orchestra during their Spring Tour in 2018.

More info about Jay and his work can be found here.

How to enter

To enter please complete an application form and submit it along with the required files. The deadline for submissions is Sunday 31st May 2020, and the entries will then be shortlisted. You will find out if you are successful by the end of July 2020.

Required files
- A completed application form (see below for download)
- An audio recording of your sample piece (this can be audio taken from notation software package)
- A copy of your full score and individual parts

(Please attach your submission form, score and individual parts as three separate documents)

Because of the current situation with the Coronavirus, applications must be submitted by email. Please email engage@rsno.org.uk with the subject line ‘Notes from Scotland Application’.

For further details of if you have any questions please contact a member of the RSNO Learning and Engagement team by emailing engage@rsno.org.uk or calling 0141 225 3557.

Notes from Scotland 2019

Paddy Davies

Winning Composition: Tri

Paddy, aged 15, attends Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria. He has an ABRSM Junior Scholarship at Junior RNCM where he is taught percussion by Andrea Vogler. He is also taught drum kit by Dave Hassell in Manchester. He plays percussion for Cumbria Youth Orchestra, Westmorland Youth Orchestra and Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and he played with the National Youth Orchestra at their Winter 2018 residency. He has been a Rushworth Young Composer for 2018-2019 season with RLPO where he was mentored by Katie Chatburn.

Fifteen-year-old Paddy Davies was the winner of the 2019 Notes from Scotland, with her piece, Tri, written for Percussion.

Amy Stewart was highly commended with her piece White Noise.

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 Director of Concerts and Engagement Bill Chandler, RSNO Principal Horn Chris Gough, and Scottish composer Oliver Searle. As the winner, Paddy received a pair of Bose SoundLink® headphones, as well as VIP access to future RSNO concerts.

Notes From Scotland 2019 winner Paddy Davies:
"I wanted to compose a multi-percussion piece because I am a percussion player. My composition was inspired by Steve Reich, in three movements with jazz chord influences. I enjoyed explaining the composition to the players in the morning and hearing the other four compositions in the afternoon. They were all very different. It was great to hear the composition live rather than through computer software which can sound a bit flat."

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 2020