Adopting Composers

20130914-181701.jpg Today, at St Martins in London, I led proceedings at the launch event for the Adopt a Composer scheme. This was the 12th year that the project has taken place, and the 8th time that I’ve been one of the project leaders.

It’s a fairly straightforward idea. Every year, we pair up six composers with six ensembles, around the UK; and they collaborate over a year to produce lots of new music together. The final performances are recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio 3. The whole thing is run in partnership with the lovely people at Sound and Music, and funded by the equally wonderful people at the PRS for Music Foundation. The scheme has three inspirational mentors: Colin Riley, Fraser Trainer and David Horne.

The new pairings announced today were:

Bristol Reggae Orchestra, with composer Kim Moore
Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, with composer Chris Roe
The Cobweb Orchestra, with composer Michael Betteridge
Clapham Community Choir, with composer Mak Murtic
The Quangle Wangle Choir, with composer Jenni Pinnock


It was great fun to introduce them to each other, and help them start to plan their year ahead, which will doubtless have many unexpected twists and turns. It was also really great to hear from Soosan Lolavar, who was one of last year’s composers, who came to talk about her experience with the North London Sinfonia, along with the group’s conductor Owen Leech. Soosan said that this experience has helped “launch her career”, and that she has learnt so much about how to collaborate meaningfully, rather than simply respond to a commission.


Colin Riley brought along his collection of Adopt a Composer handbooks (above), stretching back many years, showing the evolution of the project.

This was the last time I will be involved in launching Adopt a Composer and, I must say, it was rather a moving experience for me. It is a really fantastic project, entirely made so by the creativity, skill and generosity of all involved. At the end of the day, I was presented with some champagne by Susanna Eastburn from Sound and Music, to thank me for my contribution over the past eight and a half years. I feel really privileged to have been involved, and hope very much to work with everyone again one day.


The above photograph shows last year’s composers. You can follow the adventures of all the project’s groups and composers on the project blog, and also hear examples of the music produced in recent years.


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