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RSNO Composers’ Hub

Aimed at composers in the early stages of their career, the RSNO Composers’ Hub is a fantastic opportunity to compose music for orchestra in a range of different contexts, developing skills and creative relationships, as well as acquiring an understanding of the business of a major arts organisation.

Composer Opportunities

This scheme is not simply about creating new works, but having the opportunity to develop meaningful collaborations with the RSNO and other Hub members. Those selected will build relationships with the Orchestra, staff and RSNO audiences, whilst receiving guidance in artistic development and career advancement. There will be the opportunity to:

  • Have space to collaborate in the development of new works
  • Work on projects with RSNO’s partner organisations
  • Observe rehearsals and concerts
  • Spend time with RSNO’s Music Director, assistant conductor, and orchestral musicians
  • Be mentored by composer Stuart MacRae, as well as key orchestral musicians
  • Participate in a workshop day with an internationally-renowned composer
  • Work with smaller groups of RSNO musicians
  • Shadow key members of RSNO staff in different departments, including finance and marketing
  • Work with the RSNO’s Learning and Engagement department

Application process

Applications are now closed and will reopen in Autumn 2019.

Stuat MacRae

Award-winning composer and RSNO Composers’ Hub mentor Stuart MacRae: “As an emerging composer, it can be a very big challenge to get your music played by a professional orchestra; but in order to develop approaches to orchestral music, composers need time to collaborate with an orchestra, and the support to try out ideas. As well as writing a new short piece for the orchestral workshop there are opportunities to engage with the RSNO’s Learning and Engagement team, and to learn more about the running of the organisation. We are looking for talented and enthusiastic emerging composers of any age, based in the UK, to take part in this exciting scheme.”

2018:19 RSNO Composers’ Hub

Composers Alex Paxton, Allan X. Chen, Nicholas Olsen, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade and Sarah Lianne Lewis were the participants in the RSNO Composers' Hub 2018:19.

During the Composers’ Hub workshop, the five participants’ works were performed by the Orchestra in front of a panel of judges, comprising RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler, RSNO Assistant Conductor Junping Qian, Composers’ Hub mentor Stuart MacRae and Composers’ Hub workshop mentor Tansy Davies.

Allan X. Chen's work Semblance – inspired by a short experimental film written and directed by his twin brother, Bill Chen, which shares the same title – was selected by the panel to be premiered by the RSNO and guest conductor Teddy Abrams alongside works by Tchaicovsky at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 7 and 8 February 2020.

Composer Allan X. Chen said: “The opportunity to work with the RSNO throughout the 2018:19 hub Season has been incredible. The experience of real-time feedback and collaboration has always been an invaluable part of being a composer that I’ve enjoyed and been passionate about. I’m extremely grateful for the support and kindness of Bill Chandler, the guidance of Stuart MacRae and Tansy Davies, as well as the level of performance from the members of the RSNO. It was great to see the musicians play with depth and humour, bringing each of the workshop pieces to life under the baton of Junping.

Having had the opportunity to experience this with the RSNO has been amazing, especially with the camaraderie of my fellow hub composers. I was really impressed with everyone’s pieces, so I’m absolutely overwhelmed and honoured that my piece, Semblance, has been selected to be premiered in the RSNO’s 2019:20 Season.”

2017:18 RSNO Composers’ Hub

Composers Anna Appleby, Michael Cryne, Daniel Figols-Cuevas, Nick Morrish Rarity and Neil Smith were the participants in the RSNO Composers' Hub 2017:18.

During the Composers’ Hub workshop, the five participants’ works were performed by the Orchestra in front of a panel of judges, comprising Composers’ Hub mentor Stuart MacRae, Composers’ Hub workshop mentor Sir James MacMillan, Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson, RSNO Principal Trombone Dávur Juul Magnussen, RSNO Viola Katherine Wren, RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler and RSNO Artistic Planning Manager Catherine Ferrell.

Michael Cryne's work Open the Eastern Windows – which takes its title from the Henry Longfellow poem Children – was selected by the panel to be premiered by the RSNO and new Music Director Thomas Søndergård alongside works by Britten, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 23 and 24 November 2018.

Composer Michael Cryne said: “The RSNO Composers' Hub is an amazing opportunity for early-career composers, and I'm delighted that Open the Eastern Windows has been chosen for the 2018:19 season. It's been a tremendous learning experience working with Stuart MacRae, Holly Mathieson and James MacMillan, not to mention the orchestra themselves, who were really receptive to five challenging and unique new pieces.”

2016:17 RSNO Composers’ Hub

Composers Robert Allan, Philip Ashworth, Ben Graves, Daniel Kidane and Ailie Robertson were the participants in the RSNO Composers' Hub 2016:17.

The participants were asked to compose a short work for Orchestra about the subject of conflict or war. During the Composers’ Hub workshop, the five participants’ works were performed by the Orchestra in front of a panel of judges, comprising Composers’ Hub mentor Stuart MacRae, Composers’ Hub workshop mentor Julian Anderson, RSNO Executive Producer Manus Carey and RSNO Artistic Planning Manager Catherine Ferrell.

Daniel chose to highlight an epoch in world history where colonialism was rife, and composed a work entitled Zulu – named after the Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa, bringing to life through music the formidable fighting spirit of the Zulu people. It was selected by the panel and was premiered by the RSNO and guest conductor José Luis Gomez, making his RSNO debut in place of an indisposed Cristian Măcelaru, alongside works by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 23 and 24 November 2017.

Composer Daniel Kidane said:  "I'm very much looking forward to further collaborating with the RSNO and hearing my piece Zulu come to life in the 2017:18 Season. It was an absolute pleasure to work with the energetic RSNO, who did a grand job of work-shopping five excitingly unique new pieces. Such opportunities are vital for younger composers and I'm glad that the RSNO are in their second year of this wonderful scheme."

2015:16 RSNO Composers’ Hub

Composers Jay Capperauld, Desmond Clark, Cameron Graham, Lillie Harris and Peter Longworth were the participants in the inaugural RSNO Composers' Hub.

During the Composers’ Hub workshop, the five participants’ works were performed by the Orchestra in front of a panel of judges, comprising internationally renowned composers Brett Dean and Stuart MacRae, RSNO Associate Conductor Jean-Claude Picard, RSNO Principal Bassoon David Hubbard and RSNO Executive Producer Manus Carey.

Lillie Harris’ ten-minute work, remiscipate, was selected by the panel to be performed alongside two of the greatest examples of orchestral repertoire; Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 Choral, at the final concerts of the RSNO’s 2015:16 Season at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 27 and 28 May 2016.  The work's title is derived from the amalgamation of ‘reminisce’ and ‘dissipate’ and takes its inspiration from the demolition of Glasgow’s Red Road Flats.

Composer Lillie Harris: “It has been a real honour to have been part of Composers’ Hub - the people and performers of the RSNO have all been incredibly welcoming and generous. The amount of practical workshop time the RSNO gave all five of us feels unprecedented, and I know I have grown so much as a composer this year as a result.

“As a young composer, to be offered the chance to write such a substantial piece for a large orchestra, and not only hear it played, but to participate in a  workshop with some of the best orchestral players around, giving us practical and useful feedback in real time, was utterly invaluable. I am so grateful for the time and attention all five of us were given by the players, Jean-Claude Picard, Brett Dean, Stuart MacRae, and all the team at RSNO throughout our time with them. It’s fantastic to learn that Composers’ Hub will run again next year, as such a positive and beneficial scheme for composers deserves to continue, training fresh talent.”

© Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2018