Adopt a Composer 2019/20 pairings

The Adopt a Composer project matches leisure-time choirs, bands, orchestras and ensembles with a composer for a year, leading to a premiere performance, recording and radio broadcast. Meet the pairings for 2019/20.

Adopt a Composer pairings:


Claire Victoria Roberts and Camden Symphony Orchestra (mentored by Colin Riley)

Claire Victoria Roberts studied music at Oxford University supported by a choral scholarship. Thanks to funding from the Thomas and Elizabeth Williams Trust, she went on to complete an MMus in Violin Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music. Awarded the prestigious Parry Williams prize, Claire embarked upon a composition PhD at Bangor University. She has written for BBC National Orchestral of Wales, Zubin Kanga, Anne Denholm, Gary Farr (BBC Philharmonic), The Fidelio Trio, O Duo percussion ensemble, Oliver Coates, Simon Desbruslais, and Pspappha ensemble. In addition to composing, Claire is violinist-vocalist with Western Swing Band, The Swing Commanders. She contributes regularly to Music Teacher Magazine and has written reviews for Early Music Magazine.

Camden Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is one of London's leading non-professional orchestras. They have been a mainstay of musical life in north London for nearly forty years with around seventy regular players. Under their musical director Levon Parikian, CSO seeks to combine the familiar staples of the classical and romantic repertoire with less well-known and more challenging works. They rehearse on a weekly basis and perform three major orchestral concerts a year.


Laura Shipsey and City of Bristol Brass Band (mentored by Fraser Trainer)

Laura Shipsey's music draws on ideas of movement, line, and juxtaposition. Originally a violinist, she first studied composition at Durham University with Eric Egan and Sam Hayden and later completed her masters with distinction under the supervision of Arlene Sierra at Cardiff University. Laura is currently a Britten Pears Young Artist and a featured composer of the Illuminate Concert Series. Recent projects include orchestral pieces Samara (for Aldworth Philharmonic) and Hatch (for Cambridge Heidelberg Montpellier Youth Orchestra), Juggernaut Island (for the Ligeti Quartet), and Speak, Rose (a mezzo soprano solo for NewCELF, Cardiff).

The City of Bristol Brass Band is a prize-winning brass band giving performances throughout the South West and includes a thriving training band. The band was formed in 1936 as the Fishponds British Legion Band by HS Perry (a local boot and shoe manufacturer) and William George Cozens, who later became Lord Mayor of Bristol. The current musical director is Ian Holmes ARCM ALCM, a well-known and widely regarded musical director. Their mission statement is to play brass music to the best of their ability and perform at the highest level for the benefit of all.


Alex Paxton and Haslingfield Choir (mentored by Jenni Pinnock)

Alex Paxton,a jazz trombonist, was elected in 2019 to the International Composition Seminar commission by Ensemble Modern, and played and recorded his concerto OD ODY PINk’d for 'improviser' and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO). He has written music for ensembles including Ensemble Modern, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble x.y, Psappha, RSNO, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Orion Symphony Orchestra and National Youth Jazz Orchestra. His piece SPAKE represents the UK in the Orchestral section of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Alex was awarded the LeverhumeArtScholar and Harriet Cohen Music Award. He has written six operas hosted by: the ENO, Helios, TêteàTête, Secondmovement and PelicanMusic. Alex’s Dreammusics Ensemble is made up of unique virtuosic jazz /classical musicians, who have performed at CaféOto and Kammerklang. Alex writes music for musicians in community settings, including an opera NOGGINtheWHALE.

Haslingfield Choir is a mixed-voice, unauditioned choir that has been performing since 1971. Under the musical direction of Paul Jackson since 2017, the choir has expanded its repertoire and membership age range, and now works with local schools wherever possible to introduce young people to the joys of choral singing, serving local communities in and around Cambridge. The choir performs in the beautiful 14th-century All Saints’ Church in Haslingfield, supported by its 40-piece orchestra. It has a commitment to programming new works on a regular basis, and is therefore delighted to be part of the Adopt a Composer scheme for 2020.

Carmel Smickersgill and the Junior Leeds College of Music Ensemble Creative (mentored by Emily Crossland)

Carmel Smickersgill studied composition with Gary Carpenter and graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music. She is the recipient of the 2019 Christopher Brooks prize with the Liverpool Philharmonic, resulting in a commission for ensemble 10/10 for November 2019. Currently, she is the performer/composer with SWIM, a new theatre production. Previous commissions include Manchester Renaissance Ensemble, Manchester Peace Song Cycle, Brighter Sound and Galvanise Ensemble. Her music has also been performed on Radio 3. As a performer Carmel currently performs the original score for SWIM the theatre production during as well as with multiple bands. She has previously been part of a collaboration between visual artist Liam Gillick and the band New Order.

Junior LCoM Ensemble Creative is a flexible ensemble featuring students and tutors from Leeds College of Music Junior LCoM. The ensemble was formed in 2017, and were invited to compose and perform a new hour-long work at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, funded by The Michael Tippett Musical Foundation. The players are capable improvisers and come from a wide array of musical backgrounds.  


Jonathan Brigg and Sussex Folk Orchestra (mentored by Fraser Trainer)

Jonathan Brigg is a pianist and conductor currently teaching piano in London and working as a repetiteur for the ENO Baylis programme. Passionate about leisure-time groups, he has worked extensively with the Cobweb Orchestra, and enjoys coaching choirs of all abilities. As a composer, he synthesizes musical styles, drawing on classical, jazz and popular music in search of new sounds and new meanings. His music has been performed by, among others, Stoop Quintet, The Animato Kwartet, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Foyle Future Firsts, Orkest de Ereprijs and PercusSing, in venues as diverse as the Vortex Jazz Club and the Royal Festival Hall.

The Sussex Folk Orchestra are a group of musicians who meet to play traditional and contemporary folk music from around the world. Instruments played include guitars, mandolins, violins, accordions melodeons, concertinas, recorders, flutes and a cello.? We go out and play wherever there are gatherings, for example, garden parties, local parks, fairs, festivals, fund raising events and lunch clubs.

Rob Jones and the Edge Chamber Choir (mentored by Colin Riley)

Rob Jones is a composer and saxophonist. He completed his studies at Birmingham Conservatoire (UK) and the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (NL). His work as a composer has ranged from opera (Opera Forward Festival 2018 in Amsterdam), puppet theatre and staged works to orchestral and chamber music. His music has been performed throughout the UK and Netherlands as well as in South Africa, Turkey, Croatia and France.

Based in Ludlow, the Edge Chamber Choir are a mixed-voice auditioned choir, achieving a high standard of singing and specialising in performances of works by mainly 20th and 21st century composers.  Formed in 2014 by Ros Crouch, the choir has established itself as an important voice in the musical scene in the West Midlands, with a reputation for innovative and exciting programming. 

Rural Scotland project:

Aileen Sweeney and the Helensburgh Oratorio Choir (mentored by David Horne)

Aileen Sweeney is currently studying for an MMus (Composition) course at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), kindly supported by scholarships from The Dewar Arts Trust, The Countess of Munster and The Cross Trust. In 2017, she graduated from the RCS with a BMus (performance) with first class honours having studied classical accordion and composition. Aileen has a varied career as a freelance musician. Her contemporary compositions are cross-genre, taking influences from her interest in jazz and Scottish folk music. As an accordionist, she has performed with some of Scotland’s leading contemporary music ensembles in Scotland and in 2016, she founded the folk-fusion band Eriska. The band launched their debut album At the Wrong Gig in 2018 and are touring the album in Scotland and Switzerland this summer.

Helensburgh Oratorio Choir has been entertaining audiences with high-quality choral singing for fifty-six years. Recent concerts cover four centuries of composers from Purcell to Todd in classical, jazz and opera genres. To the delight of our audiences, drawn from residents in rural Argyll, Stirling, Clyde estuary and Glasgow suburbs, we perform choral works of the highest standard with professional orchestras and soloists. The choir is an Alumni of Distinguished Concerts Singers International, members having taken part in Will Todd’s Mass in Blue (2019) and Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light (2016) in New York. Charity concerts have also been carried out in the Central Belt of Scotland.

Meet the mentors

Colin Riley
Colin’s music draws on wide-ranging elements including new technologies, improvisation, songwriting and large-scale classical form. A recent disc of his chamber music was released on NMC last year. Recent works include a double cello concerto and his song-cycle/album In Place. He is currently writing a piece for Ensemble Bash and a violin concerto for Philippa Mo. He runs his own label and writes regular blog called Riley Notes.

David Horne 
David has been commissioned by performers such as Evelyn Glennie, the Scottish Opera, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Sinfonetta. He has led projects for organisations including Sound and Music, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Wigmore Hall. He was composer in association with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, led the New Music/ New Media course for the Britten-Pears School, and is Professor of Music and Head of Graduate School at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Emily Crossland
Emily is a composer and community musician. Her work is often theatrical and interactive, and she is influenced by folk and traditional music (she is a keen Javanese gamelan player and currently directs youth and student ensembles at the University of York). Her compositions have been performed at Gaudeamus Muziekweek, National Concert Hall Dublin, Late Music York, and as part of Hull City of Culture. She delivers educational music projects in schools, communities and criminal justice settings across the UK and frequently works as a guest lecturer at the universities of York and York St John.

Fraser Trainer
Fraser teaches at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A composer with a vivid and direct musical language, Fraser has five London Sinfonietta commissions to his name and has also written music for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Proms, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Fraser leads many creative, collaborative projects in a wide variety of contexts and trains musicians and teachers.

Jenni Pinnock
Jenni’s music focuses predominantly on nature, science and the world around us. Quirky time signatures, soaring melodies and moments of quiet stillness can all be found within her music which has received performances both across the UK and around the world. She loves writing for and collaborating with others, and giving performers artistic freedom within her a music is an important element of her work.