New Music for Late Starters
New Music for Late Starters is YLSS’s biennial competition for composers, a project that aims to create inventive new music that will inspire and challenge late starter string players.

Inspired by the success of our first Orchestra Seeks Composer competition in 2007-8, we have so far run the competition seven times* and it is now a regular part of YLSS’s programme. Through the project we aim to engage with composers interested in creating a 10-15 minute piece of high musical quality, with late starter string players in mind. The £500 prize will not make the winner rich, but offers an opportunity to work with an enthusiastic orchestra and a renowned composer.

An eminent professional composer advises us for each competition (read what Judith Weir had to say about her involvement with the 2017 / 18 round on her blog) , gives one-to-one tutorials to the four shortlisted entrants, and takes part in a workshop with YLSS playing the shortlisted pieces. To date, composers Philip Cashian, Joe Cutler, Sally Beamish, Emily Howard, Michael Finnissy, Judith Weir and Howard Skempton have worked with us, giving invaluable advice to the entrants and to YLSS.

YLSS members participate at every stage of the competition, from selection of the composer, through development and rehearsal of the selected piece, to its first performance in an open concert. Through this project we aim to support the creation of new music for late starter string orchestras, as well as broaden our musical experience. In Spring 2022 we relaunched our search for composers - be they established, emerging or late starters - who were keen to work with us in creating a challenging and technically accessible piece for late starter string players. We were delighted that renowned composer Nicola LeFanu agreed to be our professional advisor for this round of the competition.

As well as seeking composers, we are seeking individuals who share our ambition to sponsor new music and are willing to invest a small monthly sum to enable this to happen.

Each competition costs approx £2000 to run, including a prize to the winning composer. As grants are now rarely available, YLSS needs to raise this sum from members, friends and supporters, and through fundraising, to continue running the project every two years.
If you would like to be part of this initiative, we encourage you to subscribe £5 (or more!) per month to YLSS’s New Music Fund. Monthly subscriptions help YLSS to plan ahead but one-off donations to the New Music Fund are of course welcome too! As YLSS is a registered charity we can claim Gift Aid on your subscription if you are a taxpayer.
We promise to keep you up to date with the project, details of the winning composer and piece, through the website and will email once a year to confirm your continued subscription.

Winners to date:

Paul Burnell - 3 Pieces for Strings premièred at CoMA Contemporary Music Festival July 2008 and featured on BBC Radio 3 ‘Play to the Nation’ October 2008

Laurence Rose - a theory of nothing premièred at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival November 2010

Alison Wrenn - Battle of the Winwaed premièred at Headingley Music Festival June 2012

Elaine Levene - Five Snatched Sonnets premièred at Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre (HEART) June 2014

Phil Taylor - I See Faces in Everything premièred at CoMA Leeds Concert at HEART June 2016

Mark Browse -  Five Variations on Pange Lingua premièred at YLSS summer event, St Barnabas, Weeton July 2018 (read about the premier performance in the presence of the composer and mentor Judth Weir on her blog.)

Jasmine Simons -  Fantasia for string orchestra premièred at YLSS summer event July 2022 (read more about Jasmine and her piece here

Tom Carr -  Sanctuary to be premièred at YLSS summer event July 2023 (read more about Tom and his piece here

Here's how to subscribe:

  • Start a Standing Order to YLSS, sort code 30-00-05, account number 02230201, quoting New Music Fund as the reference
  • If you are a taxpayer please download, complete and send the Gift Aid declaration form to Steven (our Treasurer): 

Thank you for helping YLSS to fund new music – there cannot be many more creative ways to spend £5 a month!

Find out more about the latest winner.

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