Opus 1 - Britten Sinfonia

Opus 1

This talent development opportunity is intended as a potential ‘first step on the ladder’ for aspiring composers who have not recently been selected for other composition schemes, and from which they will gain workshop experience and a high quality recording of their work. Opus 1 is aimed at composers of any age, background and composing experience. Those selected will have a keen interest in composition, may be currently studying or have studied music in the past at some level, and will be looking for a chance to further develop their skills in a supportive environment. This year’s Programme Directors will be Raymond Yiu and Dani Howard.

Our eight chosen composers will take part in two workshops to develop their piece with a mixed-instrument ensemble. We recognise that every composer has had access to different experiences, and will work at their own pace. Workshop 1 will be an opportunity for you to meet the musicians, and bring ideas and sketches (or something more fully formed, if you prefer) to try out. By Workshop 2, we would like to see and hear how your ideas are developing into a complete piece.

You will be invited to write for one of the following unconducted instrumentations

Ensemble 1 – Harp, Flute and Viola
Ensemble 2 – Percussion (1 player, instrumentation to include marimba), French Horn and Violin

and the players will spend a day rehearsing and recording the eight new pieces at the end of the scheme. Where possible, we will work with the same players across the project (subject to availability). All pieces will be unconducted.

After the recording day, you will have the chance to evaluate the process and your piece with the Programme Directors. Programme directors will be announced when applications open.

We do not want funding to be a barrier to participation, and we recognise that the selected composers will commit time to this development opportunity. Composers who are selected for Opus 1 will be offered a bursary of £300 as a contribution towards core travel costs and associated expenses (Exceptional circumstances will be taken into account and additional financial assistance may be offered at the organisation’s discretion).

How to apply

The deadline for completing an application form is midday on Wednesday 27 April. Application forms have been sent to those who registered to receive one.

The registration window is now closed.

The web-based forms will close at the times listed above. Late or incomplete applications cannot be accepted. A confirmation page will show in your browser once your form is submitted – please note that you won’t receive a separate confirmation email.

Before you apply, make sure that you fit the selection criteria for the scheme.

Selection criteria:

To be eligible to apply for Opus 1 you should:

  • – Be over 18 years old
  • – Plan to remain resident in the UK for the duration of the programme
  • – Provide one score and recording/realisation of your work
  • – Not have been selected for a similar opportunity (see suggested list*) since 1 September 2019, or have been selected for a previous OPUS competition
  • – Not be, or be closely related to, a member of the orchestra or office team

The dates of the 2022 Opus 1 scheme are as follows:

Saturday 16th July – Workshop 1
Saturday 13th August – Workshop 2
Saturday 17th September – Final recording day

*If you have been selected for, taken part in, or had access to any of the below opportunities, or something similar since 1 September 2019, you are not currently eligible to apply for Opus 1.

This is not an exhaustive list, but we ask that you consider your recent opportunities in relation to our decision to include this as one of the selection criteria (see our FAQ’s for more information)


Schemes/courses/awards/call for scores

Cheltenham Composer Academy
LPO Leverhume Art Scholarship
Psappha Composing For
LSO: Discovery, SoundHub, Panufnik, Jerwood Composer+
RSNO Composers’ Hub
London Sinfonietta: Writing the Future
Composition: Wales (BBC NOW)
Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme (Aldeburgh)
CoDi (Composer Pathways) – Ty Cerdd
Sound & Music: Embedded Composer Scheme, New Voices
PRS Accelerate
O/Modernt Composition Award
NCEM Young Composer’s Award
RPS Composition Prize
Philharmonia Martin Musical Scholarship
Riot Ensemble: Call for Scores
Spitalfields: Open Call
Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) – Call for Pieces / Open Score


Wigmore Hall
New Music Scotland: Peer to Peer
BBCSO Embedded
Lichfield Music Festival
Glyndebourne Opera
Royal Opera House


Why do I have to register to apply?

By registering for Opus and completing our Inclusivity Questionnaire, you are helping us to not only monitor the level of interest in the programme but also find out more about the composers we are reaching. The information gathered at this stage will be treated confidentially and will not inform the later application process (the questionnaire is anonymous, so we cannot connect your answers to your application) but will hopefully tell us more about the diverse range of composers that would like to work with Britten Sinfonia, and who, if anyone, is missing from the process.


How much does it cost to apply for one of the Opus schemes?

There is no charge to make an application for Opus. We recognise that taking part in opportunities such as this requires a commitment and all selected composers will receive a bursary as a contribution towards their time and expenses.


Is there an age limit?

Although you do have to be over 18 to apply for Opus, there is no upper age limit. We welcome applications from those who may have taken time away from composition and are keen to rekindle their passion as much as from younger applicants who are studying the subject in higher education.


Will I need to write new music as part of my application?

No. We know that even a ‘quick sketch’ or an idea for a new piece will take time to commit to paper, so we won’t ask you to write and submit anything new at the application stage.


Can I submit a different recording after the deadline?

Unfortunately not. Once your application is submitted, it is filed into an unnamed folder and sent to the Programme Directors as soon as the deadline has passed to give them enough time to shortlist. We aren’t able to swap recordings once they are in the process of being considered.


How will the selection process work?

All Opus 1 applications will be considered by our Programme Directors, who will compile a shortlist of candidates. These will then be looked at by one of our musicians and our Creative Learning Manager, and discussed by the panel as a whole, before being narrowed down to our final choice of 8 composers based solely on their application.


Why can’t I apply for Opus 1 if I have recently taken part in a similar opportunity?

Selection for composition programmes is a competitive business, and we all know that often, it feels like a relatively small pool of names seem to get lots of opportunities, while a much bigger pool can’t quite get a foot in the door… We’d like to make sure that we’re hearing from as many new voices as possible, especially composers who might not have had access to similar schemes and for whom a recording of their new work could be of great value.


In years when Opus 1 and Magnum Opus applications are open concurrently, why can’t I apply for both schemes?

Opus 1 and Magnum Opus are very different and, as such, are not aimed at the same level of composer. Opus 1 is a short talent development opportunity for composers of any age who would like some help to develop a new piece, without the pressure of a performance at the end of the process. Magnum Opus is a chance for early career composers who have already enjoyed some degree of success to work with Britten Sinfonia on a longer term basis, developing multiple works and culminating in public performance. Individuals should self-assess their own work to decide which opportunity will suit them best.


Whom can I contact about the application process?

If you have specific questions regarding the application form or process, please contact our Creative Learning Team (Rachel, Cheryl or Lauren) on [email protected].

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