Adopt a Composer 2015 Announcement

Adopt a Composer
Adopt a Composer
Produced by: 
Sound and Music

The Adopt a Composer project is a wonderful, unique annual opportunity for an amateur orchestra, choir or band to 'adopt' an up-and-coming composer.

Adopt a Composer returns for 15th year 

Adopt a Composer, a project linking the UK’s up-and-coming composing talent with its vibrant voluntary music scene, has launched for its 15th year. As the name would suggest, the programme works by enabling amateur music groups to ‘adopt’ a composer over the course of a year, with the composers each writing a new piece especially for their partnered group.  

Adopt a Composer is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by PRS For Music Foundation and the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust. It works exclusively with composers at the start of their careers, giving them crucial ‘real world’ compositional experience, as well as guidance from established mentors – Colin Riley, Fraser Trainer and David Horne.  

In return, the voluntary music groups get the chance to have a piece of music composed around their own particular styles and abilities, and to get directly involved in the composition process. The project also gives excellent exposure opportunities for both the composers and groups, with recordings of many of the pieces broadcast on BBC Radio 3

Adopt a Composer 

Sound and Music is very proud to be apart of this initiative as Richard Whitelaw, Head of Programmes explained:

“Adopt a Composer is a lively and challenging project for composers and ensembles alike. It has made a hugely positive impact on the skills and confidence of the many composers who have participated in it over the  years. Sound and Music is very proud of its continuing partnership in this unique programme.”   

Barbara Eifler, Executive Director, Making Music said:

“This is a favourite project with members and there are always more applicants than there are places available. Adopt a Composer’s popularity shows the amateur music sector’s appetite for new music and for their own artistic development. It is the amateur music sector which pioneers many living composers in every corner of the UK and this programme supports that amateur ambition excellently.” 

The 2015 'Adoptees'

The selected pairings for 2015/16 are as follows: 

Chris Hutchings with Jan Modelski Community Orchestra (Cheshire) 

Chris Hutchings 


Chris Hutchings is a composer based in Scotland, mostly writing for choirs, with occasional excursions into chamber music. Awards include the Chigwell Choir Young Composers’ Competition, New London Singers Composition Prize, the Temple Church Composition Prize and the John McLeod Composition Prize. He studied maths at Cambridge, and music at the Universities of Hull and Glasgow. 

Chris's works have been performed by the National Youth Choir of Scotland, Edinburgh Singers, Chicago A Cappella, the New London Singers, Cappella Nova, the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir, and a wide variety of soloists, choirs and chamber groups in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa and beyond. He is currently working on commissions for several choirs. 

Several of his works are published by NoteNova in the US.

Jan Modelski Community Orchestra

Jan Modelski Community Orchestra Established in 2001 by Director of Music and conductor, Jan Modelski, JMCO now has over 90 members and three orchestras at different levels — introductory, intermediate and main playing — which allow players to progress. The main orchestra has over 50 players, renowned for their high standard of performance playing increasingly challenging music. We give at least two concerts a year and additionally play in charity events. Our repertoire has included music by Beethoven, Mozart, Bizet, Chabrier and Gershwin and film music of John Williams and Hans Zimmer. There is no entry requirement, but as a rough guide the players in the main orchestra are of grade five or above.

Mentored by David Horne



Ed Scolding with La Nova Singers (Dorset) 

Ed Scolding  

Ed is a versatile composer for live and film, with a strong interest in collaboration and drama. His concert music has been described as ‘subtle and polished’ (Bachtrack), ‘raw, authentic’ (Nefarious) ‘succinct, witty and apt’ (Norwich Evening News). 

Ed's recent projects include BRUT (Royal Philharmonic Society / Ideastap), short opera Adrift for Gestalt Arts, performances by The Hermes Experiment at Nonclassical and Wilton’s, by the Laefer Quartet at The Forge and by Robin Green in Rolf Hind’s Occupy The Pianos festival. 
Ed is a teacher, Council Member of the ISM, Assistant Head of Music at The Conservatoire, an examiner for Trinity College London Rock & Pop and Publishing, Projects and Web Manager for quintuple BAFTA Cymru award-winning composition company John Hardy Music and its sister label Ffin Records. 
He completed MMus Composition (Distinction) at Royal Academy of Music in 2011 with support from sources including Arts Council Wales.  

La Nova Singer

La Nova Singers Classical vocal ensemble La Nova Singers have been enchanting audiences across Dorset for over ten years. Their eclectic repertoire encompasses an appealing blend of classical, sacred, operatic and modern choral music - all performed with the choir’s characteristic sparkle and professionalism. Each of the 16 female singers is individually trained by the group’s conductor and musical director, soprano Michelle Nova, in Bel Canto vocal technique. It is this which gives their sound blend, power and beauty. Since their formation in 2004 they have given concerts in venues such as Highcliffe Castle, Christchurch Priory, Beaulieu Abbey Church, Somerley Houseand The Regent Centre. They have also performed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.  

Mentored by Fraser Trainer 



Angela Slater with Lincoln Ukulele Band (Lincolnshire) 

Angela Slater


Angela Elizabeth Slater is a UK-based composer in the final stages of a PhD in composition at the University of Nottingham, generously funded by the AHRC and supervised by Dr. Nicholas Sackman and Prof. Mervyn Cooke.

Angela has developed a particular interest in incorporating different aspects of the natural world into her compositions, and is working on a series of compositions that engage with the natural world in many different ways. Through her studies and attendance at many courses, she has worked with many professional and amateur musicians with equal passion and enthusiasm. To date she has worked with ensembles such as the Orlando Consort, Kokoro, Lux Quintet, Emulsion Quartet, Fournier Trio, and many more. 

Angela was recently commissioned by Xenia Pestova to write a piece for toy piano. The piece - ‘We’re all mad here’ was premiered at the ‘spotlight on female composers’ event in Leeds in September 2015. She was also recently awarded a prestigious bursary by the Boltini Trust to study with Hugh Wood and Stephen Pratt at the 2015 Advanced Composition Course at Dartington. Her choral piece Apparitions was recently workshopped Judith Weir and the BBC Singers. She has also recently had her piano trio workshopped by Berkeley ensemble as part of the PRS Piecing it Together event. 

Angela was also selected to attend the Composer Academy as part of the Cheltenham Festival this year where she attended sessions led by Peter Wiegold and Joe Cutler. Her piece Night Airs was selected to be workshopped by Kokoro at the BSO Composers’ Day led by composer Colin Matthews. 

Lincoln Ukulele Band

Lincoln Ukulele Band is an ensemble of ukulele players based in the heart of Lincoln. Apart from the occasional use of percussion instruments, the band is entirely made up of ukuleles of all types and sizes — soprano, concert, tenor, baritone and bass. We have a wide repertoire from different genres and eras and aim to bring our music to all ages, from kindergarten to care home! Formed in April 2014, we have quickly grown our membership to over 50 players and entertained at many functions throughout Lincolnshire. Why ukulele? It’s portable, affordable, easy to understand and makes sweet harmonious sounds that can do wonders for the body, mind and soul. Once you’ve learnt a few chords a light will begin to shine on those duller moments in life! 

Mentored by David Horne 


Neil Tòmas Smith with Thame Chamber Choir and TCC2 (Oxfordshire) 

Neil Tòmas Smith


Neil Tòmas Smith is a Scottish composer of primarily acoustic works based in Birmingham.  After studying composition in York, Neil moved to Stuttgart where he studied with Caspar Johannes Walter, as well as Marco Stroppa.   

Neil won first prize in the Acht Brücken Composition Competition with Gravitation, which was played by Schlagquartett Köln and broadcast on WDR 3.  His orchestral work, Habitus, was also broadcast in a performance by the WDR Symphony Orchestra.  

Recently, Neil workshopped quartet ideas with RedNote Ensemble in Edinburgh, played live on Radio 3 with Dark Inventions and participated in a reading session with Ensemble10/10.

Thame Chamber Choir 

Thame Chamber Choir has been providing high quality musical performances since 1999. We are a vibrant mix of adults of all ages, from many walks of life, with a shared love of performing together to the best of our abilities. Our repertoire includes works by Bach, Bernstein, Faure, Handel, Liszt, Mozart, Rossini, and Vivaldi, as well as shorter works by a wide variety of composers from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Many concerts take place in St. Mary’s church in the heart of Thame, and summer concerts are regularly held in Exeter College Chapel, Oxford. Others have been performed in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; Peterborough Cathedral; Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey.  

TCC2 As well as performing alongside Thame Chamber Choir, Thame Choral Society and Thame Concert Band, TCC2 has performed at local music festivals and various local events.  

Mentored by Colin Riley 



Lee Westwood with East London Community Band (London) 

Lee Westwood 


Described by the Musician's Union as "one of the UK's most exciting and versatile musicians", Lee Westwood is a guitarist and composer whose wide-ranging output stems from a long-term tenacity for musical exploration. 

Far from ordinary, Lee's works span from the Geometry-Music crossover of his multimedia exhibition 'A Hidden Order' (Saatchi Gallery; Athr; SCOPE; Arts Council England) to a vast back-catalogue of intimate works for solo guitar; from headlining festival stages with Hip-Hop groups and Prog Folk acts (Dizraeli & The Small Gods; Le Juki) to commissions and performances from some of the UK's leading soloists, ensembles and choirs (LSO SoundhubJoby Burgess; Workers Union Ensemble; Musarc; Riot Ensemble; Notes Inégales). Lee has toured his own music extensively throughout Europe, sharing the stage with many of the UK's leading guitarists and folk acts, and is also half of the music production company Nimzo Studio (BBC 2; Olivia Arthur).  

East London Community Band

East London Community Band The ELCB, formerly known as the Tower Hamlets Youth & Community Band, was set up in 1974 to serve the needs of wind instrument beginners, as well as more accomplished players. The band is open to anyone living in London. All ages are welcome and catered for, from 6 to 80+. Many families also participate in music making together in a range of activities including our popular percussion ensemble. We offer a range of bands to suit all levels of experience with a broad repertoire, from film music and big band jazz to popular classics. There is a dedicated jazz strand offering an introductory ensemble as well as a dedicated jazz ensemble. 

Mentored by Fraser Trainer  



Alison Willis with Chiltern Youth Chamber Orchestra (Buckinghamshire) 

Alison Willis


Alison studied composition with Alan Bullard (Colchester), Tony Gilbert (RNCM) and George Benjamin (RCM). Whilst at college she had SPNM supported performances by the London Sinfonietta (Purcell Rooms) and Gemini (Swinburne Hall).  

Alison recent works include “War Songs" with poet Chloe Stopa-Hunt (Brandenburg Choral Festival, London 2015), "Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Garglyjock and Bulkybones" (Weston Jennings, Colchester 2015) and "Rookwood Canticle" with poet Matt Haw broadcast on BBC Radio 3 (Britten in Oxford 2013, JAM "Writing for Voices project).  
Other performances include "Antiphon for St. Michael” (Bournemouth Symphony Chorus 2013), “In Commendation of Music” (Chantry Quire Chichester 2011) and “The Flame Still Burns”, Olympic Anthem for massed secondary school choirs and wind orchestra (The Anvil, Basingstoke July 2012). 
Alison is currently working on "Pied Piper", a commission for Ferio Saxophone Quartet and also “A Million Poppies”, a choir project to honour those who died in World War I.

Chiltern Youth Chamber Orchestra

Chiltern Youth Chamber Orchestra CYCO was formed in 1998 to give local young musicians an opportunity to play together under professional guidance. Peter Hanson, leader of the Eroica Quartet, is both co-founder and conductor. He leads Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique and has been recent guest leader and director with many orchestras including the Singapore Symphony, the Swedish Radio Symphony with Daniel Harding and the Kölner Akademie. Peter is supported by Jayne Spencer (violin), Katie Heller (viola), Rachael Maguire (‘cello) and Caroline Maguire (double bass). CYCO has around 30 members aged 12 to 18, many of whom are current or ex-members of other orchestras and local music centres.  

Mentored by Colin Riley 

Keep up to date on this project #adoptacomposer 

The scheme is funded by the PRS for Music Foundation and run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music.

For more information please visit the Making Music website and the Adopt a Composer blog








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