Meet the Adopt a Composer pairings for 2018/19

Adopt a Composer
Produced by: 
Sound and Music in partnership with Making Music

The year-long Adopt a Composer project matches vocal and instrumental music groups from the vibrant leisure-time music scene with some of the UK’s most promising composers, culminating in a première performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

This unique scheme challenges both music groups and composers to work together to create a brand new piece of music.

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 skilled mentors.

Since it began in 2000, Adopt a Composer has produced over 100 new commissions, with many of the composers going on to have success nationally and internationally.

Hannah Bujic, Co-Head of Artist Development, Sound and Music said:

“Sound and Music is thrilled to be partnering with Making Music again on Adopt a Composer. It’s a unique and challenging programme, which can forge deep and lasting relationships between the composers and groups, making it an unrivalled development opportunity for composers. We’re excited to see what comes of this year’s pairings as they start the creative process together.”

Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive of Making Music said:

“Adopt a Composer’s popularity shows the leisure-time music sector’s appetite for new music and for their own artistic development. It is the leisure-time music sector which pioneers many living composers in every corner of the UK and this programme supports that leisure-time ambition excellently."

We are delighted to announce this year's Adopt-a-Composer pairings below:

Chloe Knibbs and Ex Urbe

Chloe Knibbs

Chloe Knibbs is a Birmingham-based composer inspired by city life, folk tales and personal experiences. Included in the British Music Collection, Chloe has studied under Joe Cutler, Phil Grange and Michael Wolters and is currently supported by the PRS Women Make Music Fund. 

Her music explores feminist and social issues and has been performed in venues across the UK including Stratford Town Hall, Birmingham New Street Station and the Royal Northern College of Music and various festivals including Birmingham Weekender, Dartington’s International Summer School and Orkney Arts Festival. Chloe is also a passionate community musician and is currently working on projects with Welsh National Opera, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Friction Arts.

Ex Urbe aims to explore, and help its audiences explore, choral music. Founded in 1995, this West Midlands-based chamber choir has 24 members committed to high quality performance. 

Aiming to include a work by a living composer in each of its concerts, the choir’s diverse repertoire includes everything from Vivaldi’s Gloria, to lesser known a capella works such as Debussy’s ‘Trois Chanson de Charles D’Orléans’ and Herbert Howells’ Requiem. Into the mix, musical director Ben Hamilton brings his own infectious energy, underpinned by a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

James Banner and Two Rivers Concert Band

James Banner

James is a double bass player, composer and educator based in Leeds. Born in the Black Country in 1991, he studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, CNSM in Paris and the Jazz institut Berlin, where he completed his Master of Music, receiving mentorship from Greg Cohen and John Hollenbeck. His continued work as a performer of jazz and improvised music means collaboration is at the forefront of his approach to music making.

He is composer in residence for Make The Paint Dance, Tutor at LCoM and workshop leader for Jazzlines THSH. As a composer he received the UdK/Hanns Eisler Elsa-Neumann Scholarship for his ambitious anthropological choral project Voices of Berlin, and has received a studio award from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe for his ensemble USINE. He also performs as a sideman in a variety of projects around Europe, collaborating across diverse scenes as well as co-curating the series Practically Married with pianist Declan Forde at Berlin’s Donau115, voted “one of Europe’s best jazz clubs” by The Guardian.

A community wind band based in Ilkley West Yorkshire, Two Rivers Concert Band has over 50 members, ranging in age from 16 to well over 70 and welcomes musicians of all standards. The band’s director is trumpeter and music educator Mike O’Farrell. Last year the band performed in local churches, museums and parks and alongside sister group, Swing Band, raising over £2,300 for charity. 

The band rehearses weekly and plays a wide variety of music from Baroque to modern, some challenging and some more popular music.

Laura Snowden and Chandos Chamber Choir

Laura Snowden

Laura Snowden is a guitarist, composer and songwriter, whose compositions have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and Hong Kong Radio 4. She has received commissions from the International Guitar Foundation, VIDA Quartet and the Park Lane Group. Her song Live Free was performed in 300 simultaneous concerts in 60 countries for the charity Voices for Hospices, and she has appeared as a songwriter/performer with her folk ensemble Tir Eolas at Shakespeare's Globe, invited by John Williams. Recent projects include writing for the ABRSM guitar syllabus, and a commission from theorbo player Matt Wadsworth for Birmingham Symphony Hall.


The Chandos Chamber Choir performs a broad repertoire from early to modern music. Founded in 1985, the choir is an auditioned amateur choir of about 30 voices. 

The choir performs at least three times a year both within London and further afield. Repertoire is wide ranging, covering both sacred and secular music from the sixteenth century to the present day. The choir is equally comfortable performing a cappella or with keyboard, chamber-ensemble or orchestra.
About every two years, the choir makes a weekend visit to a British cathedral to perform at their services. Recently visits have been to Cork, Winchester, Lincoln, and Bristol cathedrals.

Nathan James Dearden and Swansea Philharmonic Choir

Nathan James Dearden

Nathan James Dearden is a composer and conductor, whose music has been commissioned, performed, featured and workshopped by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the TippettQuartet, Genesis Sixteen, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Wales, The Heath Quartet, Grand Band, the Fidelio Trio, CHROMA ensemble, Carla Reesand The Dunedin Consort. His music regularly features in concerts across the UK and overseas, including at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Dartington International Summer School and Festival, International Young Composers' Meetingand Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music.

Recent performances include i sleep alone (Jeremy Huw Williams; Paula Fan), franz (London Philharmonic Orchestra) and ... yng nghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw., co-commission with Tŷ Cerdd(Cantemus Chamber Choir; Huw Williams). Nathan is currently a performance manager, visiting tutor in music composition, conductor of the New Voices Consort and New Music Collective and postgraduate research scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Swansea Philharmonic Choir’s aim is to ‘raise the standard of choral singing in Wales and perform less familiar music as well as choral classics’. The group has a hundred singers and enjoys performing a wide repertoire, from Baroque to 21st century music.

Swansea Phil is twinned with Mannheim and has occasionally combined with the Mannheim Bach Choir, memorably performing Britten’s War Requiem. The choir typically performs three concerts a year, raising money for local charities. Swansea Phil is always keen to introduce new works into its repertoire. Members particularly enjoy performing the works of British composers such as Vaughan Williams, Britten and Elgar, as well as introducing audiences to works by Daniel Jones, Alan Hoddinott, and
Karl Jenkins.

Nicholas Olsen and Da Capo Alba

Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen (b.1995) is a Welsh composer who recently graduated with a first class honours degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, studying with Gordon McPherson and Stuart MacRae. On graduating, Nicholas was awarded the Principal's Prize for All Round Excellence in the School of Music. Nicholas has worked with a number of internationally renowned ensembles and conductors including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ensemble Modern, and Red Note Ensemble. Nicholas has also worked with a variety of amateur ensembles including choruses, junior choruses and brass bands. 

Da Capo Alba is the adult orchestral section of the Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association, and is currently Scotland’s largest guitar and mandolin orchestra. 

Membership comprises around 40 members who play mandolin, mandola, guitar and bass, with occasional use of other instruments. Members are varied in musical background, with players having experience in classical, folk and rock music.

Da Capo Alba performs in concerts throughout Scotland and abroad, usually about five times a year. The orchestra has won a range of awards over the last four years, including trophies for orchestra, ensemble, duets and individual performances. The orchestra has released two CDs featuring music from film, original mandolin repertoire and arrangements of pop music.

Robert Laidlow and Southampton Concert Wind Band

Robert Laidlow

Robert Laidlow is a contemporary classical composer based in London whose compositions have been performed across the UK, U.S.A, and South America. His music incorporates his background as a jazz saxophonist, and is often inspired by scientific phenomena.

Robert's work has been performed in concert and workshop by groups including Ensemble Modern, Milwaukee Symphony and Ballet, the Britten Sinfonia, Psappha, the Berkeley Ensemble, and the Hermes Experiment. Recent commissions include a piano quintet for the Campos do Jordao International Festival, a duet for the Doors Open Festival, Milwaukee, and a work for solo singing violist for Katherine Clarke.

Southampton Concert Wind Band is a thriving organisation, playing an active part in the leisure-time musical community, having shared the concert stage with a variety of local ensembles, ranging from wind bands to brass bands and choirs.

As well as regular concert and bandstand appearances, the band has, in recent times, participated in wind band festivals, achieving Platinum Awards three years in succession. The band has also accompanied guest soloists of international renown, giving audiences wonderful performances and musicians experiences to treasure.

Guided by Director of Music Calum Gray, the band has a broad repertoire and high standards, giving energy, and inspiring challenges and high attainment.

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