Young composers vie for national prize

Composition competition for 12-18 year olds in partnership with National Trust for Scotland
The third annual national competition for 12-18 year-olds, Notes from Scotland, invites applications from the countries’ budding composers.
In partnership with the National Trust for Scotland and as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) Notes From Scotland invites young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet. Following the closing date for entries in May, five works will be selected, to be performed by an RSNO ensemble at the Orchestra’s New Auditorium in Glasgow.
The themes for the third annual Notes From Scotland are taken from five distinct National Trust for Scotland heritage sites: Culzean Castle, Ayrshire; Glencoe, Highlands; Hill House, Argyll and Bute; Newhailes, Edinburgh and House of Dun, Angus.
Last year, James Nicolson’s work White Oasis, inspired by the architecture of the recently-restored Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, as the winning entry. Fellow Notes From Scotland competitor Tom Aitken’s Piano Quintet No1- which was inspired by the Scottish Parliament building - subsequently received a Royal audience as it was performed by RSNO musicians at the official opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament in the presence of the Orchestra’s patron Her Majesty The Queen and Members of the Scottish Parliament last July.
Prior to the final concert of this year’s Notes From Scotland Jennifer Martin will host free workshops for entrants at each of the inspiring locations across Scotland. The participants will be given tours of the sites before receiving an introductory guide to composing to a theme.
Composer Jennifer Martin: “I've been delighted to have been part of the RSNO's Notes From Scotland initiative from the beginning. As a judge in the first two competitions, I'm now looking forward to helping inspire another generation of young composers through this workshop series. And what better inspiration for a new piece of music than the properties and landscapes managed by the National Trust for Scotland. This opportunity is open to young people writing music in any genre and I know they are out there, in every corner of the country!”
Rhiannon Naismith, Property Manager (Newhailes) for the National Trust for Scotland: “Like many of the National Trust for Scotland’s places, Newhailes was a focus of inspiration and creative engagement over the years. We hope that the next generation of composers find their creativity is unlocked by the heritage in our care and can’t wait to hear their compositions.”
Entrants do not have to attend the workshops to enter the competition. The Notes From Scotland website includes video resources featuring introductions to each of the Trust properties across Scotland and insight and advice from some of the country’s greatest living composers.
BAFTA, GRAMMY and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Craig Armstrong OBE, famed for his soundtracks to blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge!, Love Actually and The Great Gatsby, welcomed the initiative: “This is a fantastic idea to engage young people in composition and to bring them together with existing composers and musicians to pass on their knowledge and skills. I’m sure it will be an invaluable experience for all concerned.”
For more information visit the competition website,, or contact the RSNO’s Learning and Engagement team on 0141 225 3557 or email