Kent's specialist string orchestra, based near Faversham.

Composing Competitions

Winner of six Performing Right Society Enterprise Awards for initiative in the programming and performing of contemporary music, Oare String Orchestra has run four Composing Competitions.

The first, in 1992 commemorated the orchestra's 10th anniversary and was for strings alone, without soloist. The second Competition, held in 1995, gave the composer a choice of solo instruments —  oboe d'amore, cor anglais, or French horn. The competition in 2003, celebrated the orchestra's 21st anniversary, and was for a strings-only work of up to 5 minutes. By 2003 Internet and music software had made their mark. There were now more than 250 entrants, with as many from outside the UK as within. Very few scores arrived in traditional manuscript.

The 2012 Composing Competition was for a work for solo viola and string orchestra, an enterprise in which we were delighted to work with Martin Outram, the distinguished violist.

From the beginning we recognised the importance of unbiased judging. None of the judges (there were always three) knew the names, or even the sex or nationality, of the composers. Each submitted score was given a code number, and each judge had one copy of every score. Nor were these details revealed until after the shortlist had been decided. All shortlisted works were performed at the OSO Competition Concerts where the final decision of the Judges, the Audience, and the Orchestra was made. Sometimes Judges, Audience, and Orchestra agreed, but not always.

The Competitions were hard work for judges, players, and the organisers, but were great fun. The final play-off was always an exciting occasion. From these competitions has emerged a handful of works that deserve a place in the concert repertoire. One work has already been performed in Belgium, Holland and Denmark, and others have become standard works in OSO's repertoire. (A list of winning works is available here.)

Three works were shortlisted and were performed at the concert on September 29th 2012. They were Meditation by Stephen Dankner, Concertino by Marcus Blunt, and Landscape by Rory Freckleton. We are pleased to announce that prizes were awarded as follows: