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2023: Call for Composers

We are looking to commission a composer to write a new piece for the 2023 Season, which will take place in mid-July. This new work will be premiered by the specialist contemporary music ensemble, Mad Song, in a programme alongside Helen Grime’s Seven Pierrot Miniatures, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire.


How do I apply?


Submit two previous compositions via this Google Form. We would expect these to be provided in the form of PDF written scores (‘non-traditional’ notation is absolutely fine!), as the commission will need to be notated, but there is space to explain alternatives if required. Please submit scores anonymously. We require a recording (live or a MIDI mockup) of at least one, which needs to be hosted online via a URL (we recommend Soundcloud or Youtube). Given the ensemble you will be writing for, we advise you to include at least one piece for instrumental chamber ensemble, but this is not required.


You will also be asked some basic Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion questions, which we will use to ensure a balanced shortlist. You’ll need to apply by 5pm on Friday 24th March. There is no fee to apply.

You will need a Google Account in order to answer the form. If you would prefer not to sign up with Google, please feel free to email Caroline Grint ( with your scores, recording link(s), and answers to these questions. Likewise, if you would prefer to answer the questions in video form, feel free to include a link to a video of you answering them. 


Am I eligible to apply?


HBCMF exists to provide opportunities for early-career musicians, and so this call is restricted to composers who self-identify as early-career. We are not instituting an age cut-off, as we appreciate that composers have different paths. We would be inclined to view composers with representation by an agent or publisher as more firmly established than we are looking for. We actively encourage composers from backgrounds under-represented in contemporary music to apply. You need to be based in the UK (including studying here), and 18 years or older.


How will the composer be chosen?


Adjudication will be by a panel comprising two trustees of HBCMF, two representatives from Mad Song, and HBCMF’s Artistic Director. The process will be in two rounds: from the entries submitted, the Artistic Director will put together a shortlist of up to 10 entrants, balanced by the EDI questions. The other four members of the panel will then meet to consider these entrants anonymously, and choose a composer to commission. Adjudicators will listen to at least 2 minutes of any recording submitted, so please do not assume that view counts indicate this has not happened, as they are often inaccurate! We will publish results by Friday 14th April.


What happens if I’m successful?


Congratulations! We will ask you to write a piece for the festival in July. There is an option for a workshop with the ensemble in mid-May. The piece will need to be for a standard conducted Pierrot ensemble lineup: flute, clarinet, piano, violin, cello. Doublings (piccolo, alto flute, bass clarinet, viola) are possible. It is likely that electronics will not be possible, but we can discuss this. The piece will need to be between 5 and 10 minutes and respond in some manner to the rest of the programme. The fee for the commission is £800, and we can cover in-UK travel and childcare expenses for the concert and the workshop to a maximum value of £200. You will be responsible for producing the score and parts, and will need to submit the finished composition by mid-June.


If I’m unsuccessful, can I have feedback?


Yes, although please be patient as depending on the number of requests for feedback this may take several weeks.


Who do I contact if I have questions?


Please get in touch with Caroline Grint, our Educational Director, at  


HBCMF reserves the right not to commission a composer if no entrant is deemed suitable. All decisions are final and there is no appeal process.

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