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Composition Competition

Composition Competition

Royal Holloway Composition Competition

We are delighted to announce our Composition Competition, for composers in years 10-13, to have your music performed by our professional choir.

Royal Holloway Young Composer Competition

Are you a composer in Year 10 to 13?

Do you want to hear your music performed in concert and recorded by a chart-topping choir?

Royal Holloway is launching a composition competition for young composers. The winners of this competition will have their compositions performed and recorded by the Choir of Royal Holloway.

The Brief

  • Write a piece, for the choir to sing.
  • The piece should last between 3 and 6 minutes in length.
  • It can be written for SATB choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), or any combination of those voices.
  • It can have words (in any language) or be untexted.
  • It can be unaccompanied, or accompanied by one of:
    • Piano,
    • Organ,
    • Synth/sampler/keyboard,
    • Pre-recorded accompaniment.
  • There are no limits on subject or inspiration, so let your imagination run wild!


The Competition

There are two categories, based on age:

Year 10/11 (i.e. aged between 15 and 16 on 31 August 2022)

Year 12/13 (i.e. aged between 17 and 18 on 31 August 2022)

Three winners will be chosen from each category. The winning compositions will receive feedback from one of the professional composers at the Royal Holloway Music Department.

The winning compositions will be performed in a special public concert at Royal Holloway and recorded.

You can submit your composition as:

  • Notated score
  • Graphic score
  • DAW session (like Garageband/Logic/Cubase)
  • Demo recording


Dates and Timeline

The deadline for sending us your compositions is 23:59 on 7th January 2022.

The concert for the winning compositions will be held towards the end of March 2022.

Some small travel bursaries are available and will be awarded based on need.


Download an application form here.


The Choir of Royal Holloway is considered one of the finest mixed-voice collegiate choirs in the country. The 24 choral scholars that constitute the college's Chapel Choir undertake a busy schedule of services, concerts, tours and recordings. They perform for a great variety of events, including memorable occasions like Ellie Goulding’s wedding! Their album ‘Winter Songs’ topped the iTunes classical charts, and was Classic FM's Album of the Week.

For more, visit and listen to us on our YouTube channel. 


The Royal Holloway Department of Music is one of the largest in the UK, offering a very broad and diverse range of courses, all taught by expert scholars. We are the only Music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship, awarded by Her Majesty The Queen. Ranked among the top Music departments in the UK for both our teaching and our research, we also benefit from a vibrant creative campus community.


1.      “What do you look for when choosing a text to set to music?”

Friendly vowels and exciting consonants! Try singing the words on one note to have a feel for what your performers will experience from them.

Remember a text can be anything from an instruction manual to a poem to a string of words randomly extracted from the dictionary!

The text also needs to be out of copyright if the music will be performed publicly. Usually this means that the author (and translator if applicable) died over 70 years ago. [Or you can ask for permission from the copyright holder.]


2.      “What makes good word-setting?”

Think about which words you would like to emphasise. Don't be afraid of repeating them! 

Consider whether you are writing a syllabic setting (one syllable per note) or a melismatic setting (lots of notes on one syllable), or a mixture, and why. 

Remember that when you set a text, you are essentially sharing your interpretation of it. You can make your own edit of the text, too. For example, shortening it if it is too long, or omitting lines that you feel are less important or less singable.


3.      “How do you write effective accompaniment for a choir?”

Think about the magical sonorities you can find on the piano and explore the instrument imaginatively, rather than doubling the material that the choir is singing. Sometimes less is more!


4.      “How can I give my piece a satisfying structure?” (this might intersect with questions of text structure)

There are so many possibilities here. Try making a storyboard or plan that helps you to visualise the shape of your composition. You can add the text and other information to this plan as you develop your exciting ideas. You're encouraged to explore unfamiliar structures, too. 

5.      “What do I need to bear in mind when writing for choir?” (this could include spatial questions, questions of textures/effects, breathing space, common pitfalls, etc.)

Make sure you know the ranges of the voices. Avoid asking the singers to sing at the very top or very bottom of their range for long periods of time. 

Try singing the part yourself to check if it's really singable. 

6.      Anything else

Have fun with it! Try new things, and explore the voice's potential. You might like to think about creating contrasts (in dynamics/texture/timbre/harmony) that help articulate your structure as well as making some bold and daring moments. 


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