CoMA has created a unique library of hundreds of contemporary works especially suitable for performance by amateur and youth ensembles. Many are flexibly scored enabling them to be used by ensembles of varying size and instrumentation. Such is the quality of the repertoire that many of the works have been adopted and used by professional ensembles, such as Jonathan Harvey‘s Climbing Frame, performed by Ensemble Modern, Germany’s leading contemporary music ensemble, at the 2011 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
Many leading UK and international composers have written for CoMA including Diana Burrell, Philip Cashian, Donnacha Dennehy, Jonathan Harvey, Stephen Montague, Per Norgard, Michael Nyman, John Tavener and Jennifer Walshe to name but a few. Among those young and emerging composers that CoMA has encouraged and feature in the past and who are now beginning to make a name for themsleves are Elspeth Brooke, Claudia Molitor, Alwynne Pritchard and Phil Venables. Works written by CoMA members also feature. Works written for CoMA have been honoured at the British Composer Awards several times, including CoMA members’ Howard Jones‘ Illusion of Progress and Michael Finnissy‘s Molly House.
Open Score is CoMA’s ongoing project to generate new repertoire for amateur ensembles of varying size and instrumentation. The project was established in 2004 with funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. A different artistic director is appointed each year to commission new works from some of the the most inspiring and forward looking composers living or working in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. Most artistic directors to date have been composers themselves who have composed successful works for CoMA in the past. Their year as Open Score artistic director gives them an opportunity to write another work for us.
Our current Open Score artistic director is Larry Goves. Diana Burrell, Michael Finnissy, Stephen Montague, Philip Cashian, Joe Cutler, Andrew Toovey, Tansy Davies, Howard Jones, Gregory Rose, Rolf Hind, Chris Shurety, Darragh Morgan and Hannah Kendall have been artistic directors in previous years.
CoMA works with UK conservatoires to provide training for composition students by giving them the opportunity to write for CoMA ensembles. Each project involves a partnership between a conservatoire and a CoMA ensemble, and typically includes an open rehearsal for students to learn more about CoMA’s approach, a workshop of pieces in progress, and a workshop of finished pieces.
Some partnerships culminate in a concert performance, and many works written for CoMA as part of a student project have become core items of CoMA repertoire.
Partnerships have included:
- Royal Academy of Music and CoMA London Ensemble
- Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and CoMA Voices
- Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and CoMA South West Ensemble
- Birmingham Conservatoire and CoMA East Midlands
- Royal Northern College of Music and CoMA Yorkshire
The project fills a major gap in the repertoire, a unique collection of outstanding contemporary partsongs offering fresh, exploratory, and experimental approaches to a vocal medium that is one of the most archetypal genres in Western music.
The collection offers non-conventional notation, unusual vocal techniques, speech, movement and auxiliary instrumentation, altogether a contemporary re-invention that is bold, highly original and, importantly, performable by mixed ability ensembles. A repertoire to excite the most accomplished professionals, challenge the amateur and intrigue audiences.
The project aims to elevate the status of partsongs as an effective means of contemporary musical expression. The songbook, edited by artistic director James Weeks, together with associated recordings will serve to inspire and guide other composers to create works of this nature and thus establish an invigorating and relevant addition to the repertoire, open to a variety of ensembles. In brief, a songbook that will serve as a catalyst for an entirely new vocal scene to emerge. Our latest publication choral partsongs provides exciting material for larger vocal groups.
We regularly commission music from established and emerging composers who are keen to support the CoMA ethos.
Our latest commissions are for the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Music for All. As Open Score Artistic Director, Larry Goves will be writing a piece himself and has selected Sarah Hennies, Tim Parkinson, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Matthew Sergeant and Joanna Bailie to also write for us. Kate Whitley will be writing large scale piece for orchestra and choir. Lola de la Mata, Blasio Kavuma, Yfat Soul Zisso and Daniel Potter will writing pieces as nonclassical associate composers. The Festival commissions are supported by funding from PRS for Music Foundation.
We currently have two ongoing calls for pieces: Open Score works for flexible ensemble and partsongs for vocal ensemble.
We also issue calls associated with specific projects such as our Summer Schools.
See our composers page for more information about writing for CoMA and details of calls.