Jennifer Langridge and Benjamin Powell

Current Opportunities


Psappha’s Composing for… schemes 2020-21 

During 2020-21 Psappha will be running four Composing for… schemes. Three will be solo schemes – for sitar, viola, and acoustic guitar, and one will be a duo scheme – for violin and cimbalom. The closing date for applications is Sunday 16th August 2020 at 23:59 via Psappha’s online application system (link to apply is below).

The schemes will support and develop 24 composers who are interested in learning more about writing for the instruments included in this year’s programme.

Who is eligible?

This is a development opportunity for music creators who are at an early stage in their composing career. Applicants will have completed their first degree or equivalent and they will either have left higher education within the last five years or they will be studying at postgraduate level. They must be based in the UK for the duration of the scheme (applicants based outside the UK may apply so long as they will be based in the UK for the period of the scheme).

The programme is not open to undergraduate students or to composers who have been establishing their post higher education careers for longer than five years. Nor is it open to composers who have completed previous “Composing for…” schemes within the last two years (composers from Psappha’s 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 are eligible to apply, so long as they haven’t taken part in a subsequent scheme). MA and PhD students are eligible to apply. Those still studying for a first degree at the time of application are eligible to apply so long as their degree will have been completed and awarded by the time the scheme begins – the first session will be in October 2020.*

We encourage applications from music creators from different musical genres and we seek to attract applications from candidates that reflect the diverse society in England and the UK.

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to give the selected composers direct contact with five highly experienced musicians: sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun; viola player Heather Wallington; guitarist Tom McKinney; and Psappha violinist Ben Holland with Psappha percussionist Tim Williams playing cimbalom.

Composers on the sitar schemes will research the traditions from which their instrument comes, and will write an idiomatic work that responds to those traditions. You will learn to use the Bhatkhande notation system and your final work will be performed using this way of notating music. This scheme is for composers who want to learn about a tradition of music making and how to respond to it sympathetically. This scheme is not appropriate for composers wishing to explore extended techniques.

Each composer will be supported to write a new, five-minute piece for one of: sitar; viola; guitar; and violin/cimbalom duo.

All works will be filmed and sound recorded by Psappha. The films will be hosted on Psappha’s YouTube channel and the audio files on Psappha’s SoundCloud channel so they can be embedded in the composers’ websites or shared (click HERE to watch the films from our recent Composing for Piano scheme and HERE to watch films from our recent Composing for Cello).

The works created through the process will also be considered for inclusion in a future Psappha performance and a number of composers who have participated in our schemes have gone on to be commissioned by the ensemble.

How will it work?

Up to 24 emerging composers will be selected to work with Psappha between September 2020 and May 2021. Each composer will receive three sessions with their musician plus a new (for 2020-21) mid-scheme ‘Intervention Day’ led by a composer of national standing plus a final rehearsal/recording session.

Due to the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic we have developed a new way of working remotely which has received excellent feedback from the cohort of composers involved in our 2019-20 schemes. We will deliver sessions 1, 2 and 3 remotely and we expect you to attend (in person) the intervention day and the final filming day. We realise that circumstances might not allow for any ‘in person’ sessions but we want to be clear from the start that if it’s safe to do so, we expect you to attend the intervention day and the final filming day in person. Both sessions will take place in Manchester.

The timeline is as follows:

Session 1 – Viola, acoustic guitar and violin/cimbalom Schemes: the day will start with a group session for all the composers on your scheme (1 to 2 hrs). This will be followed by individual sessions for each composer where you will meet with your musician/s to discuss and test out initial ideas and concepts.
Sitar Scheme: Session 1 will be a group session for all the composers on your scheme (5 hours including breaks). This will include demonstrations of the instrument, and the opportunity to ask questions and test ideas.

Following this session composers will be required to submit initial ideas (including manuscripts where appropriate) two weeks prior to session 2.

Session 2 – each composer will have an individual session (40 mins each) with their musician(s) to explore the work done between sessions.

Following this session composers will be required to submit drafts of their work two weeks prior to the Intervention Day.

Intervention day – the six composers on each scheme will gather together for a group workshop session. This will be an opportunity for participants to see and hear each other’s work and to support each other by sharing what has been learned so far. The intervention days will be structured and guided by a composer of national standing, and supported by Psappha’s Artistic Director and musicians.

Following the Intervention Day composers will be required to submit a final draft of their work two weeks prior to session 3.

Session 3 – each composer will have an individual session (40 mins each) to work through their piece and receive feedback from the musician ahead of the submission of the final score.

Following this session composers are required to submit final works in hard copy and electronically six weeks prior to the recording session.

Session 4 – For the final filming/recording session all composers are required to be present in Manchester for the full day. The filming/recording day will take place at Hallé St Peter’s, Ancoats, Manchester. Please note that this is a recording day where the pieces will be recorded and filmed in sections; it is not a performance day.

All session dates will be shared with successful applicants and participants will be asked to confirm their availability at the time when an offer to take part is made.

What is required from the composers?

  • A genuine commitment to the project.
  • To write a work that lasts a maximum of 5 minutes and to agree to participate in the sessions outlined above meeting the required deadlines.
  • Composers on the sitar scheme must be willing to learn to write using the Bhatkhande notation system – we will support your learning to do so.

How to apply?

Applications are accepted via Psappha’s online application portal only (link below). The deadline to submit your application is Sunday 16th August 2020 by 23:59.The automated application form will ask you to:

  • Select the scheme or schemes you are applying for;
  • Provide your full contact details (postal address, mobile phone, email address, website and SoundCloud links (if applicable). Please note that we will communicate with you by email so do ensure that the email address you provide us with is correct and up to date.
  • Provide a concise summary of your composing experience, including a note of whether you are currently studying (at what stage) or whether you have left education within the last five years* (max 300 words – please note that the online form is unforgiving – it will cut off any words beyond the 300 word limit).
  • Upload up to two examples of your music (as a PDF score or mp3 or ideally both) – please note each file must not exceed 20mb – if your upload is larger than this the system will not allow you to submit. If you’re not sure how to check the size of files here’s some help: Windows Mac
  • A brief description of how you believe this opportunity would support your development (max 300 words – again please note that material beyond the word limit will be cut).
  • When you press ‘Submit’ it might take a minute or so to register your application – please be patient!
  • You will then be prompted to complete an equal opportunities form. This anonymous data will be used for monitoring purposes only and will not form part of the recruitment process for the scheme. Please help us by completing it.

Please ensure that you submit your application in good time – please don’t submit at 23:58 on 16th August as technical issues are possible! The application portal will close at 23.59 on Sunday 16th August 2020. When you have submitted your application, you will receive an acknowledgement email. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Psappha is happy to offer this development opportunity to composers for free, and each of the selected composers will receive a bursary of £400. We expect this to support your travel costs and other expenses associated with the scheme.

Psappha is a small organisation and we do not have the resources to provide individual feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

* We recognise that parents and carers who have taken time out to look after eg young children, family members etc and / or people who have taken employment in a different sector may have left education more than five years ago. We are happy to consider applications from people to whom these circumstances apply – be clear in your application.

Psappha is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner. For more information about the PRSF and the support that it provides for music creators visit their website HERE.