Adopt a Composer project - groups

The Adopt a Composer project matches leisure-time choirs, bands, orchestras and ensembles with a composer for a year, with each pair working collaboratively to create a unique new work.

**Group applications have now closed except for groups in rural Scotland.**

Is your group based in a rural area of Scotland?

Accessing creative development projects can be particularly expensive for rural-based music groups who have to travel further into the towns and cities where these opportunities tend to arise. So we’re delighted to announce that Creative Scotland has awarded funding specifically to cover these costs and make it possible for a rural-based Scottish group to take part in the Adopt a Composer project.

If your group is a member of Making Music based in a rural area of Scotland, fill in this application form to have the chance to be the Creative Scotland Adopt a Composer pairing. The closing date for this application is 5pm, Monday 1 July.

What are the benefits for our group?

  • A new piece of repertoire tailored to the strengths and personality of the group
  • A working relationship with a skilled and committed composer
  • The opportunity to be recorded for a possible radio broadcast on BBC Radio 3
  • An understanding of the collaborative process of creating new music and the knowledge to undertake this again independently
  • A Group Development Day in January for the MD and another member of the group to attend
  • A new and exciting experience, in which 100+ Making Music groups have now participated

I would just like to thank Making Music for this wonderful opportunity and experience. We have all benefited enormously and learned a huge amount about ourselves and our potential and also about how contemporary music can be presented to new audiences. - The Fretful Federation Mandolin Orchestra, Adopt a Composer 2017-18

How does it work?

Following the application process, your group will be paired with an up-and-coming composer for the year during which the composer (mentored by an experienced professional) will write a new piece specifically tailored to your group. 

The composer costs, fees for the mentoring composer, and all expenses related to the placement of the composer will be paid by the PRS Foundation. The only costs to participating member groups will be the allocation of sufficient rehearsal and performance time.

The composer retains all rights to the score. 

We did not expect such a significant and positive effect on our group cohesion, its self-perception and confidence, and the recruitment potential for younger singers - The Singers, Adopt a Composer 2017-18

The process (guide only):

  • 7 September: pairings announced at launch event (London)- meet your composer!
  • October - December: your group hosts a workshop introducing the composer to your members
  • January: you and your composer workshop/rehearse the piece in progress
  • January: MD attends our Group Development Day to meet other participating groups and share ideas and learnings
  • February - April: rehearsing of the draft piece
  • May - September: premiere concert (usually recorded for a possible broadcast on BBC Radio 3)

The whole experience was very positive. The players have all gained so much from the whole project and the publicity for the orchestra has also been good - Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, Adopt a Composer 2017-18

If your group is thinking about applying for Adopt a Composer but isn’t sure yet whether to go ahead, here are the answers to some key questions that might help you decide.

Adopt a Composer FAQs

Does our group need to be classical to take part?

No, we’ve welcomed all types of groups over the years! Community choirs, concert bands, bell ringers, ukulele bands, a reggae orchestra and many more have all taken part.

We’ve already organised our 2019/20 season, finishing in July 2020. Does that mean we’re too late to apply for Adopt a Composer this year?

Not at all - the process on this webpage is only a guide. Each project is completely different and each composer-group pairing can decide what works best for them. It’s fine for premieres to be scheduled in the autumn term of 2020.

How much rehearsal time would we need to give to the project?

Most groups rehearse one evening a week and on the whole, manage to fit the Adopt a Composer project into that structure. Sometimes they organise  an extra, longer workshop on a weekend, but each project is very different and you’ll be able to decide with your composer on how best to manage the time you spend on the project.

What happens if we find that the dynamic between ourselves and the composer isn't as good as it could be?

The Adopt a Composer judging panel work very hard to look carefully at the needs of each group and composer and match them up accordingly - so far the matches we’ve made have been very successful. 

The project’s aim is to encourage groups to move out of their comfort zone and produce a collaborative piece of new music that both they and their adopted composer can be proud of. To create the best kind of working relationship with your composer, it’s important that you keep an open mind and open communication with them throughout the journey. We also provide an experienced mentor for you and your composer who is there to offer support, guidance and help with the smooth running of the relationship.

Can you tell me more about organising the workshop in the autumn to introduce the composer to the choir?

The workshop can normally take place at one of your usual rehearsals; however it’s entirely up to you arrange what date or length of workshop best suits your group and your composer.

When would we be likely to see the first draft of our piece for rehearsal?

At the beginning of the project you need to work out a suitable timetable with your composer and mentor. Each project works to a different time frame according to when you schedule your premiere concert.

What date is the ‘Group Development’ day in January?

We’ll schedule this day when the groups have been selected, according to everyone’s availability.

Is it free to take part in the project or do we have to sponsor the composer?

The composer fee and costs, fees for the mentor, and all expenses related to the placement of the composer will be paid by us. The only cost you’ll have to cover will be your rehearsal time and performance venue costs.

When will I hear if our group has been successful?

Groups will be shortlisted in early July - if you’re shortlisted we will arrange a short telephone call with the musical director of the group. You will hear if you have been selected shortly after the composer interviews in August.

Would we be able to nominate a composer we know as our adopted composer for this project?

Prospective composers and groups apply separately and we pair them especially for the project, so you are not able to nominate the composer of your choice within the confines of this project.

How to apply

**Group applications have now closed except for groups in rural Scotland**

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If your group is in rural Scotland and you would like to apply to take part, complete and submit this online form. If you would prefer to complete the application form as a Word doc, or if you have any further questions, please contact Sally Palmer (

The deadline for Scottish applications is 5pm on Monday 1 July 2019. Following this, shortlisted applicants will be contacted to arrange a 10 minute phone call with us as part of the selection process. 

To be considered for the project your group will need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Music Director and group members are enthusiastic and able to commit to get involved in the composition process over the whole course of the project.
  • Able to arrange time in your schedule to develop, rehearse and perform a new piece in the 2019/20 season (please see above).
  • Is a member of Making Music. (If you are not currently a member, please contact the Making Music office to find out about joining).

Please note: you will need to include a short supporting statement from your MD/Conductor in the form.