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 and ensure an unbiased decision on the part of the selection panel. 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, organised as part of the Festival’s Choral Symposium. The new format was an instant success. Since 2010 to date, 208 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, Amanda Feery, Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Donal Mac Erlaine, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, Criostóir Ó Loingsigh, and last year’s winner, Donal Sarsfield. 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 the Seminar on New Choral Music, organised as part of the Festival’s Choral Symposium. This Seminar 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?
The performance in which the winning entry will be premiered will be a programme entitled ‘Before Bach and After’ as part of a series of programmes by Chamber Choir Ireland in which the motet will be explored in all its forms from the earliest medieval representations of the early motets through to contemporary interpretations – full details of the programmes can be viewed at www.chamberchoirireland.com/events. With this in mind, we ask that applicants consider the motet as a form in writing for the competition and write their interpretation of a motet, or write in response to the rest of the programme being performed. An essay by Paul Hillier on the motet and this series of concerts by Chamber Choir Ireland can be downloaded directly here.
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. If in Irish, it is requested that the applicants provide a pronunciation guide/phonetic guide to account for dialect.
- 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?
The work must 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.
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, 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 winning composer is required to attend the Cork International Choral Festival as its guest and to participate in the Seminar on New Choral Music, organised as part of a wider Choral Symposium with Chamber Choir Ireland as artists-in-residence. The Seminar on New Choral Music will retain at its centre the work undertaken for many years by the Festival’s established Seminar on Contemporary Choral Music. The wider Choral Symposium will feature a range of related presentations, and workshops.
- The selected composition will feature as a selected work at a working session of the seminar.
- Composer’s name added to the list of Seminar composers. See full list here.
- 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 6th December 2019.
General Conditions of Application
- The composer gives permission to the Cork International Choral Festival (CICF) to make sufficient copies of the composition for performance, and Seminar study purposes. The cost of such reproduction will accrue to the festival.
- The composer gives permission for a PDF copy of the composition to be made available, for study purposes only, on the Festival’s website.
- The Cork International Choral Festival will retain a copy of the selected score for archival purposes.
- An obligatory condition of the award requires the winning composer to attend the Seminar on New Choral Music, to participate in the presentation and analysis of the work, and to be present for the première of the work.
- In the event that the composer is unable to attend the Festival for reasons the Festival Board finds unacceptable, then the award is declared null and void and the work will not form part of the Seminar, receive its premiere performance by CCI, and no cash prize will be given. The Festival may decide to re-award the prize if such an eventuality arises.
- The rights of the Premiere performance are assigned to the Cork International Choral Festival (CICF) 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.
Contacts for further information:
John Fitzpatrick, Artistic Director
Elaine FitzGerald, Festival Manager
Cork International Choral Festival
Civic Trust House
50 Pope’s Quay
Tel: 00 353 (0)21 4215125 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org