2017 Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition Now Launched!

The much-celebrated Seán Ó Riada Compoisition is now officially launched! Be in with a chance of winning this esteemed composition…

28 October 2016

www.venividiphoto.netThe much-celebrated Seán Ó Riada Compoisition is now officially launched! Be in with a chance of winning this esteemed composition competition and having your work premiered in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral by the acclaimed Chamber Choir Ireland on Friday 28th April 2017.


Read on to get all the details!

The Seán Ó Riada Competition was initiated in 1972 in recognition of the creative life and work of Seán Ó Riada (1931-71).  It was initially conceived of as an encouragement to amateur adult Irish choirs to select and perform existing or newly composed original works in the Irish language by an Irish composer.  The trophy was presented for the best performance.  In 1976, the competition became specifically a composition competition.  It was open to composers, born or resident in Ireland, to set a poem in Irish for a cappella choir, no performance applied.  In 1978 the competition was further adapted to encourage Irish amateur choirs to commission original works from Irish composers for performance at the festival, the trophy being awarded to the choir.  The aim of the competition was threefold (a) to encourage Irish composers to write new works in the Irish language, (b) to widen the accessibility of new works in the Irish language for amateur Irish choirs, and (c) to enhance the existing repertoire of Irish choral music.  Following a period when interest in the competition diminished it was discontinued, its format not valued either by composers or choirs.  In 2010 the competition was reintroduced utilising a totally new format, and the novel aspect of scores being entered under Pseudonym to protect the identity of the composer.  To enhance the status of the composer and provide an incentive, the winning composer attended the Festival and the winning composition was included as one of the works presented and discussed at the Seminar on New Choral Music/Choral Symposium.  The new format was an instant success.  Since 2010 to date, 187 compositions have been received testifying to the present interest in, and healthy state of Irish composition.  Previous winners of the competition include Solfa Carlile, Rhona Clarke, Patrick Connolly, Frank Corcoran, Séamas de Barra, Eoghan Desmond, Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Donal Mac Erlaine, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, and last year’s winner, Amanda Feery.  A number of these works have been published by international choral publishing houses.


What is the Seán Ó Riada Competition?

The Seán Ó Riada Competition is a composition competition which invites the submission of new works from Irish composers.  The competition is a collaboration between the Cork International Choral Festival and Chamber Choir Ireland.  The winning composition will be selected by a panel, comprising of composers and choral experts, and will be a featured work at a Choral Symposium to be held during the Festival.  This Symposium will feature Chamber Choir Ireland and its internationally renowned conductor, Paul Hillier, as artists in residence. The selected composition will receive its premiere performance during the Festival at a Gala Concert given by Chamber Choir Ireland, conducted by Paul Hillier. The composer of the work will be invited to attend the Festival as its guest and play an active part in the Choral Symposium.

What composers are eligible?

Composers born, or resident, in Ireland are eligible to apply.  Applications are welcomed from both established and emerging composers.

What general compositional parameters apply?

While Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI)—a chamber choir of 16 voices—will give the premiere performance of the work, it should have the potential to be accessible for performance by a wider range of high standard amateur Irish choirs.

The following parameters apply:

  • An original work
  • Written for a cappella choir
  • Up to 5 minutes in duration
  • 4 parts (SATB with no divisi)
  • The selected text may be original or existing, in the English, or Irish, language.
  • Texts should be non-liturgical.
  • Any rights related to the use of existing/copyright texts are a matter for the composer to clarify, and receive permission for their use.



Presentation format of score?

It is desirable that the work be presented in computerised notation A4 format (Sibelius or other). The text utilised, including its writer and source, should be detailed on a separate page and form part of the score presentation.  If hand written, scores should be legible and suitable for duplication for performance and study purposes in maximum A4 format.

Application Process?

In keeping with best practice, and to ensure the anonymity of composers’ identities in the application, assessment, and selection process the method of application will be as follows.

  • A completed application form found here
  • All applications will be in hard copy and forwarded by registered post to the Cork International Choral Festival, Civic Trust House, 50 Pope’s Quay, Cork.
  • The composer should use a pseudonym on the printed score.
  • Five (5) unbound copies of the score should be provided.
  • The composer should retain the original manuscript.
  • Each entry should be accompanied by a sealed envelope (one), enclosing the attached form, detailing the name and contact details of the composer.  The pseudonym of the composer should be clearly detailed on the exterior of this envelope.
  • Should the composer require confirmation of receipt, a pre addressed envelope to an address of the composer’s choice (utilising your pseudonym) or an independent email address, should be included with the application.  Festival staff will confirm receipt.
  • Subsequent to the decision of the Assessment Board, the sealed envelope will be opened and the composer will be informed of the success or otherwise of their application.
  • Confidentiality will be maintained by Festival staff about composers’ identities in relation to any specific queries received from the composer.

Assessment of compositions?

The assessment panel will consist of a minimum of three persons.  Both established composers and persons with choral expertise will be represented on the panel.

Benefits to be derived by composer?

  • A cash prize donated by the Ó Riada Family, will be awarded to the winning composer.
  • The winning composition will receive its premiere performance during the Festival at a Gala Concert given by Chamber Choir Ireland, conducted by Paul Hillier.
  • The composer will be invited to attend the Cork International Choral Festival as its guest and to participate in a Choral Symposium with Chamber Choir Ireland as artists-in-residence.  The Choral Symposium will retain at its centre the work undertaken for many years by the Festival’s established seminar on contemporary music.  The Symposium will also feature a wider range of presentations than existed previously.
  •  The selected composition will feature as a selected work at a working session of the Choral Symposium.
  • Composer’s name added to the list of Seminar composers.  See www.corkchoral.ie for full list.
  • The Seán Ó Riada Trophy will be presented to the winning composer.
  • As an added incentive to composers, a representative selection of the compositions received will be given a Performance Reading by Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI) during the Festival. This public session will be presented as part of the Choral Symposium, align with the educational activities of both CCI and CICF, and will involve open discussion on the works.  It is essential that the invited composers are present for this session.  If they are unable to attend, their work will not be performed.

Closing Date for receipt of applications?

Friday 9th December 2016.


General Rules of Application

  1. The composer gives permission to the Cork International Choral Festival (CICF) to make sufficient copies of the composition for performance, and Choral Symposium study purposes.  The cost of such reproduction will accrue to the festival.
  2. The composer gives permission for a PDF copy of the composition to be made available, for study purposes only, on the Festival’s website.
  3. The Cork International Choral Festival will retain a copy of the selected score for archival purposes.
  4. In the event of a successful submission, the composer agrees to attend the Festival and to participate at the Choral Symposium in the presentation and analysis of the work.
  5. The rights of the Premiere performance are assigned to the Cork International Choral Festival (CICF) and Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI)
  6. No commission fee will apply to the CICF and CCI in relation to the composition of the work.
  7. No costs, apart from accommodation and meals, will accrue to the CICF and CCI in relation to the composer’s attendance at the Festival.  Any other costs will be the responsibility of the composer.
  8. Any performance of the composition during the Festival may, without payment, be recorded and the Festival shall be entitled to possession of any such recording.
  9. The decision of the Assessment Panel is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of its work.
  10. The CICF or CCI accepts no legal responsibility in respect of anything pertaining to a composer’s participation in the festival.



Contacts for further information:


  • John Fitzpatrick, Festival and Artistic Director

Sinéad Dunphy, Festival Manager

Cork International Choral Festival

Civic Trust House

50 Pope’s Quay


Tel: 00 353 (0)21 4215125      Email: [email protected]



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