New Music In The South West

NMSW is an annual concert series and educational programme aiming to overhaul public perception of contemporary music and bring it closer to the heart of the region’s cultural life. The programme will introduce school-age composers to an exciting new sound world, present professional performances of work by emerging composers, alongside music from some of Britain’s best living composers, and promote the creation of new music by commissioning pieces from composers at all career stages.

The 2013/14 NMSW season comprises 3 professional concerts, a composition workshop for A’Level music students and a composition competition also for A’Level music students. The season finale will be a major outdoor event staged in partnership with Bristol Zoo Gardens in summer 2014. At this the winning entries from the composition competition and a number of special commissions from professional composers will receive their premieres.

Project Aims

This project will provide inspiration and opportunity to young musicians, by introducing them to contemporary music and by presenting, to three talented individuals, the wonderful opportunity of having their music played at a major event, by a high-quality professional ensemble.

It will give the notoriously insular world of contemporary classical music the rare opportunity to move into a broader environment and receive exposure at a large scale, mainstream event.

NMSW will make a hugely significant contribution to the cultural life of Bristol and the South West, showcasing the best that the region has to offer and developing a stimulating environment for the composition and performance of exciting new music.

Sponsors of the project will benefit from ongoing exposure through publicity material for the concerts, print and broadcast media coverage and from a six month, cross media marketing campaign being planned by Bristol Zoo.

Programme Details

The project will consist of three concerts (with informal post-concert discussions), based around the theme of New Music in the South West, and a composition competition for A’Level music students. There will also be a composition workshop at which the students entering the competition will have the opportunity try out their works-in-progress.

It will begin in November of this year and will culminate, in July 2014, with the concert at Bristol Zoo. The project is being enthusiastically supported by local schools, who will organise groups of students to attend all events and to participate in the workshop and composition competition.

Concert 1

24th November 2013, Royal West of England Academy (main gallery)

The Bristol Ensemble String Quartet will perform music by established, living composers (with an emphasis given to music by composers with a connection to the South West), and commissions from the regions best post-graduate and early career composers. It will be followed by an informal discussion involving Bristol Ensemble performers and composers at all career stages – from the A’Level composers hoping for success in the competition to the established composers whose work has been performed at the concert. It is hoped this will provide a lively forum for creative enquiry and will inform, encourage and inspire the young composers.

Concert 2

February 2014

Talks are ongoing with venues and performers, but it is hoped that the concert will be held in the Recital Room of the Victoria Rooms and will be performed by an ad hoc group of young and very talented players. Details will be confirmed shortly. As with concert one, the commissions from post-graduate and early career composers will be performed alongside music by established names. There will again be a post-concert discussion.

Composition Workshop

March 2014

The workshop will be open to A’Level composers and will enable them to hear their works-in-progress played by high quality performers. It will be an excellent opportunity for them to discuss their pieces and to learn about how properly to communicate their ideas to performers and to deal with any practical issues such as playability. Again, it is hoped the the workshop will be held in the Victoria Rooms – Recital Room and be performed by an ad hoc ensemble. Details to be confirmed shortly.

Composition Competition

Deadline: May 2014

Open to students studying A’Level music at the region’s schools, the brief will be to compose a contemporary response to one of the movements of Saint-Sae?ns’ Carnival of the Animals. The best three entries will receive their premieres at a concert by the Bristol Ensemble to be held in the grounds of Bristol Zoo. At the end of the concert an overall winner will be announced and presented with a trophy and a cash prize.

Concert 3

July 2014, Bristol Zoo Gardens

The season finale at Bristol Zoo promises to be one of the highlights of summer 2014. An open-air chamber concert, staged in the beautiful surroundings of the zoo gardens, Bristol Zoo estimate that it will attract an audience of between 500 and 1500 people. The programme will be based around a performance of the chamber version of Saint-Sae?ns’ Carnival of the Animals, with each of its 14 movements being followed by a contemporary response.

Three of these responses will be composed by the winners of the composition competition, while the remaining eleven, will be specially commissioned from some of Britain’s best composers (with an emphasis on those with a connection to the South West). Composers include John Pickard, Michael Ellison and Geoff Poole.


Although there is still a considerable way to go before the project is fully funded, NMSW is very pleased to have the support of the Honeymead Arts Trust and the Paragon Concert Society. Publicity material is being provided by That Copy Shop and we are grateful to Creative Steam who will be designing and hosting the NMSW website. A number of composers have also offered to lower their usual commission rates in response to the project’s inherent public benefit.

For further information and enquiries, please contact:

Julian Leeks, 40 High St Claverham Bristol, BS49 4NE. or: Email: julian@julianleeks.com Tel.: 01934 830059

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