St Magnus Composers’ Competition

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In addition to our Composers' Course we are offering an opportunity for Composers to have their work performed at the 2017 Festival.

2017 will be the 900th Anniversary of the death of St Magnus the Norwegian Earl and martyr most closely associated with the history of the Orkney Islands. One of two Earls ruling over Orkney at the beginning of the 12th century, he was brutally betrayed and killed by his cousin Haakon. Magnus was made a saint in 1135 and in 1137 the construction of the magnificent centrepiece of mainland Orkney – St Magnus Cathedral – was begun.

Surviving from the middle ages is a piece of polyphony that is known as the Hymn to St Magnus (Nobilis Humilis). In partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University, St Magnus International Festival has created an opportunity for composers to work with this music.


Click here to download entry form

There will be two categories for this competition: Under 18 and 18 and over

1. The ensemble performing the winning works will be The Assembly Project with a line-up of violin, cello, flute (doubling piccolo) and clarinet (doubling bass clarinet)

2. Duration of the composition should be 5-6 minutes and the music should not have been performed previously.

3. The winning work from each age group will be performed during the 2017 St Magnus International Festival and in the Spring of 2018 at Canterbury Christ Church University.

4. Submission deadline for entries is 22nd April 2017.

5. The submitted works should in some way incorporate, or use as a starting point, the medieval polyphony of the Hymn to St Magnus.

6. The judges for the competition will be Sally Beamish and Alasdair Nicolson with members of the ensemble.

7. Two copies of the score should be submitted anonymously. The scores should bear a pseudonym and age category. The composer’s name should only appear on the entry form sealed in an envelope bearing the pseudonym.

8. Scores cannot be returned after judging.

9. Winners and runners up will be announced in May 2017.

Download more information and entry form here

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The Scotsman

St Magnus International Festival, 13 Albert Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HP

T: +44 (0)1856 871445


St Magnus Festival is a charity registered in Scotland. Scottish Charity No SC011666. Company Number SC073825.

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