Petersfield Musical Festival is hosting its eighth competition for young composers, giving an ideal opportunity for imaginative musicians to share their creations with new audiences and receive expert feedback from a panel of judges. 

The Festival of Young Composers, which is run in association with the Michael Hurd Fund for Young Musicians, will take place at the Petersfield School on February 4, 2024;.

The deadline for submission of scores is December 4, 2023.

Contestants must be aged 19 or under, and live or attend school or college anywhere in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, or within 25 miles of Petersfield. 

Prizes of up to £200 and £100 will be awarded for first and second prize in each of three age categories. 

Since the first biennial composers’ festival in 2009, 48 young creatives have risen to the challenge. 

Their music is either played live or presented in recorded form to a public audience on the performance day, and more than £2,500 has been distributed in prize money to support the musical studies of the winners. 

Compositions have ranged from solo songs and piano music to a capella choral works, as well as a wide variety of instrumental ensembles. 

All entries must be written for a maximum of 12 instruments or voices. Each year selected winning entries have been performed during the Petersfield Musical Festival youth concerts, a potential springboard into the wider world.

Previous winners of the competition have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the music profession. 

For example, Tim Braithwaite – a prize winner in 2010 – graduated from the specialised masters in early music theory course at Het Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague and is currently enjoying a vibrant international performing career as both a countertenor and baritone, working with groups such as Amsterdam Baroque.

He said: “Winning the Petersfield Festival of Young Composers was an extremely influential experience in my early development.”

He praised the opportunity it offered to perform in front of a panel of esteemed judges. 

Thomas Baynes – a 2018 prize winner – is a composer of concert, film and multimedia music. As a media composer, Thomas has composed and produced works for the Redcat Creative music library with releases on Universal and APM labels. 

Since then Thomas has gone on to assist composer Nick Holywell-Walker on internationally-renowned BBC One drama Silent Witness

Thomas’ Changing Our Sound won first prize in the performing arts section of Royal Holloway’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) response competition.

Shoshana Yugin-Power – a prize winner in 2016 and 2022 and still a student at Bedales – is a remarkable all-round musician. 

She won Winchester Symphony Orchestra’s Young Soloist competition in 2022. Her winning entry The Return to School in the BBC Young Composer 30-second composition challenge was one of the entries chosen to be showcased on the BBC Proms website. 

Shoshana’s piece was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra flautist in 2020.

The Festival of Young Composers encourages young composers to create music that is both ambitious and practical – just how practical is put to the test on the day of performance next February. 

Performers benefit from the expert insights and tips from the adjudicators – Jonathan Willcocks, composer and conductor and formerly director of the junior department, Royal Academy of Music; Philip Young, musical director of PMF and formerly director of studies at Bedales School; Dr Jill Jarman, contemporary classical composer, jazz pianist and lecturer in music, University of Chichester.

The adjudicators study the written scores in advance and all entrants receive detailed written constructive feedback on how to improve particular aspects of their work. 

Festival administrator Sue Bint believes strongly in the importance of fostering musical creativity as a way of transforming relationships, promoting communication and providing relaxation in our fast-paced world. 

“This competition gives young musicians an occasion to present their compositions to a wider audience. They also gain constructive feedback from a panel of experienced composers. 

“I feel strongly that young people need to be given as many opportunities as possible to expand their musical imaginations and reap the many benefits of self-expression,” she said. 

There will be two categories of composition – with live performance and with a recorded performance. Both will be played on February 4. 

The competition caters for composers in three age categories: 19 and under, 17 and under and 14 and under.

Full details of the Festival of Young Composers and the entry form can be found at . Entries need to be in the hands of the Administrator, Sue Bint, 11 Eleanor Close, Passfield, GU30 7TX or emailed to [email protected] by December 4, 2023.