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Development opportunity for Scotland-based composers

We are pleased to announce that we will be offering an exciting new development opportunity for emerging Scottish-based composers in partnership with sound.

Five composers will have the opportunity to develop short works for viola and percussion working alongside our players Fiona Winning (viola) and Tom Hunter (percussion) with Deirdre McKay as composer mentor. The new works will be performed during 2024 soundfestival.

Opportunity description

Five emerging Scottish composers will have the opportunity to develop short works of around 5 min for Fiona Winning (viola) and Tom Hunter (percussion) with mentoring support from Deirdre McKay.

This will take place over a period of 4 months with a mixture of online and live sessions (see key dates below).

The new works will then be performed as part of the soundfestival on Saturday 26th October 2024.

Key dates

The successful candidates should be available to attend the following sessions: 

  • Online introductory session: Tuesday 2nd July evening
  • 1-to-1 mentoring sessions with Deirdre McKay and/or musicians (mid-August, dates and times tbc)
  • Workshop session with Fiona and Tom: 21st September in Glasgow
  • Performance on Saturday 26th October 2024 at 12pm in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Aberdeen.

This requirement is kept flexible for those living with disability, or those for whom such participation might be tricky due to any other reason related to their underrepresented characteristic. You will be able to discuss this with us upon successful application and we will help find a solution.

Please note, we offer this flexibility in order to open our opportunities for those with access requirements and for whom participation is difficult due to their underrepresented characteristic. If you are not able to attend those days, and your reason is not related to the above, please consider applying to a different opportunity.


The successful candidates will be Scottish-based ‘emerging’ composers. They will need to be able to articulate their development needs and how the opportunity would benefit them as this point in their career:

  • by emerging we mean composers who are able to demonstrate a number of years of compositional experience, but who don’t consider themselves mid-career, or established. They can be of any age and background, including those who have had to take a substantial career break due to maternity leave or other reasons, or those who practised composition as amateurs in previous years and have now started to take steps into the professional world. They might also be those who had a career in another field of music and are only now identifying as composers, or those who have just graduated etc. It is up to you to define yourself as emerging according to your own personal circumstance.
  • by Scottish-based composers we mean composers of any nationality, who have been resident in Scotland for at least 18 months. Scottish-raised composers who are studying elsewhere in the UK for a limited amount of time may also apply, but will be expected to pay for any travel to get to Scotland.

We are committed to working with and supporting composers from under-represented groups. Female, trans, gender-diverse, and global majority and Gypsy/Traveller composers, composers from a low-income background, and/or composers with a disability are encouraged to apply. By global majority we mean people from all ethnic groups except white British and other white groups, including white minorities.


A stipend of £250 will be available for each successful candidate who completes the opportunity.

Second-class travel within Scotland will be reimbursed, as will accommodation. See the next paragraph (accessibility) for additional access costs.


Access costs will be covered for those who require it. You will be asked about your accessibility needs upon successful application, this will be discussed with you individually, and the programme and schedule (where possible and required) will be tailored towards your needs.

If you need any accessibility assistance in applying for this opportunity, please contact Kadri on info@sound-scotland.co.uk.

How to apply

To apply for the opportunity please complete this form: https://neartail.com/sm/jg81uRXTy 

Text, video or audio applications are accepted. 

In the application form you will be asked: 

  • Your name, email, age, pronouns, postcode, and to confirm you are Scottish/resident in Scotland, and to identify your underrepresented characteristic if you wish so
  • Why are you interested in this opportunity and how will it help your development as composer? (text, or upload video or audio)
  • Biography or CV (text only)
  • Small portfolio of your work: two PDF scores (notated, graphic, or description) and, ideally – recordings/midi of the same pieces.
  • You will also be asked to fill in an equalities monitoring form.

There will be an online information session for all our current composer development opportunities on Monday 27th May from 12.30-1.30pm for those who need further advice or information.  Here’s the link to register for the session: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpcuCtqTMpE9zlY1qHPcp2KN2OFGsjBfrI

If you have any other questions, you can email Kadri on info@sound-scotland.co.uk.

Deadline for applications: Monday 10th June 2024

We offer a 2-day “grace period” until the end of day on Wednesday 12th June for applicants who can’t reach the deadline due to health challenges, having to care for family members, or other reasonable and/or unexpected circumstances. Please state your reason in the application form.

Selection process

As mentioned above, sound is committed to working with and supporting composers from under-represented sections of the population. To enable this, there is a two-stage application process: an initial selection is made, and then this is narrowed down in a second stage selection process. If you are a female, gender-minority, global majority or Gypsy/Traveller composer, disabled and/or from a low-income background, you can choose to self-select automatically to the second round. 

The selection panel will be made up of composer Deirdre McKay and a representatives of sound and Red Note Ensemble.

We will inform you whether you are successful or not on the Friday 25th June. We may alternatively offer you a reserve place in case one of the successful candidates can’t take up the opportunity or needs to pull out at an early stage.


What to expect

  • Your creative process should start at the initial date of this project, and continue throughout, punctuated by online or live sessions with the composer mentor and/or musicians.
  • You will be working mostly individually, using any medium of your choice during the creative process to help you generate ideas. 
  • Any mentoring sessions will be aimed at helping you shape your ideas into a suitable composition.
  • For the mid-project live session, you will be expected to present a draft notated score and parts in advance for the musicians (you can use graphic or semi-graphic notation, and/or text instructions, if that is how you normally work). The deadlines for this will be given to you at the introductory meeting.
  • After this you will be required to prepare a final fully notated score and parts for a date to be agreed with the musicians.
  • In between sessions, it is up to you how exactly you would like to manage your process.

If you have any further questions or personal requirements in regards to this, you will be able to discuss them with the manager and/or mentor of the project upon the successful application.

What NOT to expect

  • Tutoring – your mentor is your sounding board and advisor, but you are expected to work as a professional, and will be making your own decisions based on your experience.
  • Time management and preparation guidance – while we will provide you with a schedule, we will expect you to manage your own creative flow, and make autonomous decisions on any creative preparations for meeting with musicians, etc. You will always be able to discuss any logistical questions (equipment, access, timeline, etc.) with our manager.  
  • Please note that this is a development opportunity leading to a live performance of your work in the soundfestival. It may be possible to make an audio and/or video recording of the performance which, provided the players are happy with the performance, will be available to you for personal, non-public use only, including submission to competitions and as part of educational assignments.


Selection for new music opportunities is inherently subjective and the criteria used can differ from project to project. We are frequently over-subscribed and often the quality of applications is extremely high from a wide range of composers, which usually means making difficult decisions.

Reasons for selecting one composer over another are not always to do with skill level or experience.. Usually we choose the composers that will benefit the most from a particular opportunity. We may also take into consideration whether we feel composers are the right fit to work a particular ensemble.  For development opportunities that happen in a group setting, it may be that we need to take into consideration the coherence of that group e.g. we may prefer to have composers of a similar experience-level. We thus sometimes end up turning down composers with more experience or skills, or giving opportunities to composers who we feel would benefit most from a particular opportunity at that stage in their career. Faced with difficult choices we may sometimes turn down composers who have already benefited from a number of opportunities in the past.

We would however encourage composers to apply for any opportunities that interest them and for which they fit the specification, and not be discouraged if they are not selected for a particular opportunity, as it does not mean that they are not “good” enough. Please do continue to apply for any opportunity that interests you!

This opportunity is part of sound’s soundcreators programme focusing on nurturing creative talent which is currently funded by Creative Scotland, PRS for Music Foundation, Hugh Fraser Foundation, and Aberdeen City Council.

10 June, 2024 - 0:00 to 23:59


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