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Composition Competition

Nova Consort are launching a composition competition, inviting composers to submit short works based around the theme of "animals" for SSATB consort. The competition opens for submissions on 1 May 2024 and the deadline for entries is 31 August 2024. Five entries, selected by a panel of adjudicators, will receive professional video recordings in Ely Cathedral's Lady Chapel, followed by the awarding of a Judges' Prize (£350) and an Audience Prize (£350).

This competition takes place due to the immense generosity of David Keltner and the late Patricia Owen Keltner, Rogers Covey-Crump, and Neil Swindells. 


The Brief

  • all composers are eligible to apply

  • only one piece may be submitted per composer

  • entries must have been composed for the competition and must not have received a prior performance

  • no identifying information should included either in the score or file name

  • works using copyrighted text must obtain the necessary permissions and include these in the submission email

  • any divisi beyond SSATB is not permitted

  • works should be titled after the animal (e.g. "The Fox") as this is how they will be presented on the video recordings - if composers wish to subtitle their works (e.g. with the name of a poem) they may

  • the consort will be recording a setting of William Blake's "The Lamb" in the same session, so settings of this text will not be considered 

  • submissions will be a minimum of 40 seconds and a maximum of 80 seconds, with a clear indication of the duration at the beginning of the score

  • the five chosen submissions grant the consort the rights to the first performance and recording of the work for a period of six months

  • composers must agree to these terms in their submission email

We're looking for works which are imaginative, innovative and will capture the attention of viewers in a short time window. Composers only have a maximum of 80 seconds to make an impression, so make it count! This short time frame will allow the consort to record a larger number of entries during our recording session, as well as allowing the recorded videos to be available across the full gamut of platforms on which we wish to release them. 

The consort is made up of five professional singers, though we will only have limited time to rehearse and record. To this end, composers should ensure their works are clearly legible with good voice leading and idiomatic vocal writing. The five chosen entries will be recorded in a reverberant space, so composers may wish to consider how their entry might utilise this. 

For any further queries relating to the competition, please email


The five chosen submissions will be recorded by Nova Consort, a group of professional singers:

  • Aine Smith - soprano

  • Ellie Bray - soprano

  • David McGregor - alto

  • Dom Wallis - tenor

  • Will Crane - bass


Anonymised entries which meet the criteria set out in the competition's brief will be shortlisted by the consort before being considered by a panel of adjudicators:


  • Kristina Arakelyan, composer

  • Sarah MacDonald, composer and Director of Selwyn College Chapel Choir 

  • Graham Ross, composer and Director of Clare College Chapel Choir


Professional video recordings will be made of five selected entries in Ely Cathedral's Lady Chapel. 

Judges' Prize 

£350 awarded to the composer selected by our panel of adjudicators

Audience Prize

£350 awarded to the composer whose video gains the most traction online following the release of their recording. Composers are encouraged to promote the recordings of their own works. Further details about this prize will be given to the composers of the five selected entries closer to the time of the videos release.

Both prizes will both be awarded simultaneously around 3 months after the release of the video recordings in early January 2025. The consort also hopes to feature all five selected entries in a concert that year, to which composers are invited. 


Please submit anonymised entries to by midnight (GMT) on 31 August 2024, with the subject line "Nova Composition Competition 2024".


The body of the email should include the composers full name, the name of their submission, its duration and agreement to the terms of the competition as explained in this brief. 


The consort will acknowledge receipt of entries and aim to inform candidates of the result in early October ahead of recording on 15 October 2024. The five composers whose submissions are being recorded will be informed of next steps. 

Recorded videos of the five selected works will be released across our social media accounts, so be sure to follow these!

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