A Brief History

An Overview from 1993 to the present


CoMA was established in 1993 to encourage and provide opportunities for amateur musicians of all abilities to take part in contemporary music making. That year, the first Summer School featured new commissions by Diana Burrell, Michael Finnissy and William Sweeney. The aim was to create a repertoire of contemporary music accessible to amateur players and to establish regional ensembles throughout the UK.

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CoMA ensembles carry out a range of activities including performing commissioned repertoire, improvisation and holding workshops for amateur composers. CoMA has featured in various prestigious events including Bath, Huddersfield, St Magnus and Spitalfields music festivals. CoMA London was programmed in the bmic Cutting Edge series for three years.

CoMA has built up a unique collection of more than a thousand works, used by colleges, schools and outreach programmes as well as by CoMA and other ensembles. CoMA’s commissioned works have featured prominently in the British Composer Awards.

CoMA’s Key to Change conference at the South Bank Centre in 1997 established CoMA’s reputation in promoting participation in contemporary music and in the same year became Music Winner of the Prudential Award for the Arts in recognition of its leading role in this field.

CoMA continues to develop and diversify its activities and is currently extending its international links as a core part of its programme.

CoMA celebrated its 21st birthday in 2014 with an Amazing Day of concerts at concerts at St John’s Smith Square.

CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) is a company limited by guarantee, registered in the England & Wales (no. 3429608). It is also a charity in England & Wales (no. 1067282) and in Scotland (no. SC051561).

Timeline of Key Events


Chris Shurety (CoMA founder) starts weekly meetings with Simon Foxley and Sarah Gall to plan the inaugural CoMA Summer School


The first CoMA Summer School


Premiere of ‘Dark Sun’ by Stephen Montague at the CoMA Summer School, Bretton Hall, West Yorkshire


CoMA hosts the Key to Change Conference at the Southbank Centre: Addressing the role of the amateur musician in contemporary music

CoMA is awarded the Music Award of the Prudential Award for the Arts


CoMA is invited to take part in the International Society for Contemporary Music ‘World Music Days’ Festival, under the Artistic Directorship of Gillian Moore


CoMA Open Score Project is launched


KNM Campus Ensemble is launched – our first permanent European ensemble


CoMA Maastricht is launched in the Netherlands, our second permanent ensemble in Europe


CoMA hosts 21st Birthday Gala at St John’s Smith Square


CoMA Festival launches at Kings Place

CoMA releases its first publication – CoMA Open Score Anthology


CoMA Festival becomes a biennial event

CoMA releases the Partsong Series


CoMA hosts its first online Summer School


CoMA launches mysounds youth scheme

CoMA Choral Partsongs is released


30th Anniversary celebration weekend at St Johns Smith Square

2023 CoMA releases ‘The CoMA Story’ Documentary

From Then to Now

The first CoMA Summer School at Bretton Hall in 1993
The first CoMA Summer School at Bretton Hall in 1993
21 years later: Summer School at High Melton in 2014
21 years later: Summer School at High Melton in 2014
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