Sean O'Riada 2014

What is the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition 2014?

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 (formerly The National Chamber Choir of Ireland). The winning composition will be selected by a panel, comprising of composers and choral experts, and will become a featured work at the Seminar for New Choral Music (artists in residence –  Chamber Choir Ireland).

It will receive its premiere performance during the Festival at a Gala Concert given by Chamber Choir Ireland, conducted by Paul Hillier, on Friday 2nd May, 2014. The composer of the work will be invited to attend the Festival as its guest and play an active part in the Seminar session.

Previous winners of the competition include such well-known names as Rhona Clarke, Patrick Connolly, Séamas de Barra, Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, and the 2013 winner, Solfa Carlile.


Download the 2014 Seán Ó Riada Application Form and the 2014 Seán Ó Riada Applicant Information

What composers are eligible?

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

What compositional parameters apply?

While the premiere performance of the work will be given by Chamber Choir Ireland, a chamber choir of 16 voices, 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 option to include small divisi)
  • The selected text may be original or existing. Texts may be sacred or secular. If a sacred text is chosen it should be non-liturgical in character. Texts with an Irish link would be welcomed but equal consideration will be given to compositions which select texts from other sources.
  • 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:

  • 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 (form downloadable here), 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 Prize of €750, 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 the Chamber Choir Ireland, conducted by Paul Hillier, on Friday 2nd May, 2014.
  • The composer will be invited to attend the Cork International Choral Festival  (CICF)as its guest, and to participate in the Seminar on New Choral Music (Choir-in-Residence: Chamber Choir Ireland).
  • The selected composition will be analysed and presented at a full session of the Seminar on New Choral Music.
  • Composer’s name added to the list of Seminar composers.
  • 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 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 13th December 2013 – Please note that applications for the 2014 Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition are now closed!

General Rules of Application

  • The composer gives permission to the Cork International Choral Festival to make sufficient copies of the composition for assessment, performance, and Seminar purposes. The cost of such reproduction will accrue to the festival.
  • The Cork International Choral Festival will retain a copy of the selected score for archival purposes.
  • In the event of a successful submission, the composer agrees to attend the festival and to participate at the Seminar on New Choral Music in the presentation and analysis of the work.
  • The rights of the Premiere performance are assigned to the Cork International Choral Festival and Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI).
  • No commission fee will apply to the CICF and CCI in relation to the composition of the work.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The decision of the Assessment Panel is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of its work.
  • The CICF or CCI accepts no legal responsibility in respect of anything pertaining to a composer’s participation in the Festival.


WINNER of the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition 2013

SolfaBWSolfa Carlile

Originally from Cork, Solfa Carlile graduated from the Royal College of Music, London with an MMus in 2011. In 2010 she was awarded the Jerome Hynes commission at the National Concert Hall for her piece Sounds based on Brendan Kennelly’s poem, and received a patron’s award from the London Chamber Orchestra for her work Ad Locum. She was one of three young composers mentored by Sir Harrison Birtwistle for a collaborative music-theatre project, Theatre of Illusion, at Dartington the same year. In 2011 she was appointed composer-in-residence for the Orchestra of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden. Her piece Saul and the Witch was one of the winners of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition in 2012. She has a keen interest in research, and has delivered papers at three International Arts Conferences. Carlile is concerned with bridging the gap between accessibility and intellectuality in her work, and draws on a broad palette of infl uences, ranging from Irish folk-music to specialised concert music. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate at Oxford University, with support from the Irish Arts Council and the Seary Trust.

[divider divider_type=””][/divider]


PDF scores of prize-winning compositions

The following scores are made available for study purposes only, and are provided with the permission of the composers. They are not to be duplicated for any reason without prior agreement being received from the composer.

Contacts for further information:

John Fitzpatrick, Festival Director

Sinéad Dunphy, Festival Manager

Cork International Choral Festival

Tel: 00 353 (0) 21 4215125