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ORA Singers looking for passion and potential in third Composer Competition & Mentoring Scheme for state-school students

24th January 2022

The award-winning ensemble, ORA Singers, announces its 2022 ORA Singers Composer Competition with applications now open! The trail-blazing choral group, which has commissioned 50 new works in the last five years, is now returning its attention to state-sector secondary school students, with the third in its successful series of Composer Competition and Mentoring Schemes.

Building on the success of its previous Competitions, ORA Singers will be increasing the number of students that can be part of the project, opening it up to 50 young musicians; all of whom will receive free compositional training and support, and with 10 Finalists receiving a whole host of additional benefits.

The scheme, a ‘one of a kind’ for Composer Competitions, selects young musicians from state-only schools to be mentored for free by professional composers in order to write an original choral work. 10 Finalists have the opportunity to have their pieces performed and recorded by ORA Singers, and adjudicated by a panel of industry experts (led by Stephen Fry in 2019 and Gareth Malone in 2021).

In addition to the 10 Finalists, 40 Apprentices will receive behind-the-scenes access to the Competition, and 8 hours of compositional masterclasses, introducing them to many aspects of choral history and compositional technique. By the end of these masterclasses, we expect the Apprentices to be in a position to write their own small choral work which will be looked over by our Workshop Leaders.

The ORA Singers Composer Competition is designed to nourish and develop young talent that otherwise might be overlooked, and deliberately targets young people who have not yet had access to specialist tutoring. It does this by assessing personal statements alongside any musical work (complete or incomplete). It is not just looking for the best composers, but students with passion and potential, and wants to encourage all students that are interested in composition to enter.

Pip Alpin, Audience Prize Winner, commented in the Lancaster Guardian:
“This has given me the chance to work with impressive composers, peers and mentors and has helped a lot in looking at composition and having this piece in my portfolio is a real asset. One of the panel members, Jack Pepper, chose my piece to play on his radio show ‘Jack Pepper’s Culture Bunker’ on Scala Radio which has given me a real boost…”

And another Finalist said:
“It was brilliant to be able to hear my music sung by such high quality singers. Having my music performed in front of such renowned musicians was a privilege, and it was very generous to be able to do this scheme free of charge.”

One 2021 Apprentice’s parent also wrote:
“He felt genuinely connected to the team, loved learning from them all, and it really gave his confidence a boost, as well as inspiring him to write his own choral piece…He’s now writing multi-part choral harmonies for his TikTok, so thanks for inspiring him!”

Matthew Beale, Chief Executive of ORA Singers, adds:
“We’ve been blown away by the amazing students that we’ve had on our first two Composer Competitions, and we’re delighted to be able to extend the offer to even more in the 2022 version, with 50 young people receiving compositional support. We’ve enjoyed hearing the overwhelmingly positive feedback from previous students and hope that we can continue the good work for next year and beyond.”

Applications to the ORA Singers Composer Competition are now open for young aspiring composers born on or after 1st September 2003 and in attendance at a UK non-fee paying secondary state-school. Full terms and conditions can be found on the ORA Singers website ( and applicants will have until noon on Monday 7th February 2022 to submit their applications.