MidWinter Composers Course 2018

2-6 January 2018 at St Hilda's College and Jacqueline du Pré Music Centre, Oxford.

Treat yourself this New Year to a gigantic creative boost with CoMA’ intensive mid-winter five-day composition course. With a track record for taking composers onto an entirely new level, the course provides the technical capacity and confidence to realise more ambitious musical ideas and projects.

This year’s composition tutor, Andrew Toovey, will offer friendly and supportive advice to composers at all stage of their developments, advice that is nevertheless challenging and deeply instructive.  With a focus on string writing, composers are required to write for amateur strings as well as for a professional string trioSara Wolstenholme (violin) Ruth Gibson (viola) and Robin Michael (cello).  One session each day is dedicated to writing as a composers’ ensemble.

CoMA course participants have variously described the course as providing an ‘amazing time’, offering ‘great feedback’ and ‘unique opportunities for collaboration’, and as an ‘inspiring’ way to kick off the New Year. Past composition tutors have included Tansy Davies, Gerald Barry, Sally Beamish, Philip Cashian and Alasdair Nicolson.


Photography by Morgan Hayes, digitally painted by Nichal Aracchande
Photography by Morgan Hayes, digitally painted by Nichal Aracchande

Andrew Toovey studied composition with Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy and briefly with Morton Feldman.

Toovey’s work embraces widely diverse influences, from music such as that by Feldman and Finnissy, or from the poetry of Artaud, Cummings and Rilke, and reflects his passion for 20th-century visual art, especially that by Bacon, Beuys, Davies, Hayter, Klee, Miro, Newman, Rauschenberg, Riley, Rothko and the Outsider Artists. It has been performed throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Andrew is Artistic Director of the new music ensemble IXION since 1987 and  teaches composition at Birmingham Conservatoire, where he has recently been awarded an M3C grant for his PhD composition studies. Since 1982 he has written around 100 pieces for orchestra, large ensemble, chamber groups and many solo instruments as well as opera. He is currently composing an opera based on James Purdy’s novel Narrow Rooms to a libretto by Michael Finnissy.

Course content

  • Pre-course guidance on writing for strings with option to write for amateur mixed ability string orchestra or chamber size string quintet
  • Group tuition classes and one-to-one composition tutorials with a leading UK composer
  • Attendance at all workshops performing composers’ submitted works with feedback by professional performers
  • Sessions with a professional trio to inspire and develop new musical ideas
  • Working as a ‘composers ensemble’ to create a collective work for performance
  • Right to record all composition sessions
  • Concerts in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building presented by string tutors

The following document provides guidelines for composing for the course ensembles.

Composer guidelinespdf


St Hilda’s is one of the more recently established colleges of Oxford University and located on the banks of the River Cherwell, opposite the Botanic Gardens and Magdalen Bridge with views across the meadows to Christchurch and other colleges. The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, the first purpose-built concert hall in Oxford since the time of Handel, is located within the college grounds. It will accommodate the composers’ course and Allcomers’ orchestral and quintet sessions, chamber groups and evening concerts.

Jacqueline du Pré Music Building
Jacqueline du Pré Music Building


Fees range from £390 for a day visitor to £645 for full board in a single occupancy room with washbasin (£740 in an ensuite room). There are a limited number of bursaries for full time students offering £140 off the full price. This means that full time students can attend for as little as £250. Many colleges have funds to cover course fees.

The course is limited to eight composers and has been over-subscribed in recent years.

Please download the further details and booking form. Contact info@coma.org if you have any questions.

Further details and booking form