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Call for Scores

The University of Manchester in collaboration with Manchester Opera Project offers the following opportunity for composers.

Four composers will be chosen to write for this opportunity, which will culminate in a professional performance that will be recorded and videoed, on Friday 17 June, 2022 at Hallé St Peters, Manchester. It will form part of a day-long set of conversations and performance which dwells on issues of art-science collaboration centred on sustainability.


Set one of the texts below to music. The setting may be up to 8 minutes long. Available instrumentation is any combination of the following:

Soprano - Louise Wayman

Bass - Simon Grange

Cello - Petr Prause

Piano - Richard Whalley


This opportunity is open to composers of any age, and is open to current students (UG / PG), former students, students-to-be and non-students.


If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please send to by Thursday 10 March the following:

· Score and (if possible) recordings of 2 to 3 recent works, that give a picture of your style of composition. If possible include at least one piece for voice(s). Send a link to where these can be viewed, which may either be online (e.g. YouTube) or in a Dropbox folder, or similar.

· A short proposal for your composition (<300 words) explaining your choices of text. In your proposal please rank your choice of poems, in order 1-3, your chosen instrumentation, and telling us about how you propose to respond musically to text in your piece.

· Please include in your proposal how you see your proposed work relating to aspects of your style of composition (as demonstrated by the existing works submitted) and tell us about how your work engages with themes of sustainability, environmentalism and climate change.

· A short bio (<300 words)

Stones and Sweeper - Chad Campbell

What news do you bring us? 

   It's October. The leaves have fallen. 


From where? The thicket on the slope? 

   No. Higher on the ridges, the oaks.  


What of the ranger? Of the coast? 

   The tine of his lantern on the coast. 


Who will sweep the leaves from our stones? 

    I will sweep the leaves from the stones.  


Like the woman painted the watches' hands? 

    Yes, pointing the brushes with their tongues. 


You will come to us? October and October? 

    October and October and October. 


And in the meantime? Where will you go? 

   I will be with the ranger. 


Upon the coast? 

   The thin tine of his lantern on the coast.  


We will wait by our stones. 

   My radium ghosts in the radium oaks. 

Sibir’/Сибирь – Rebecca Hurst

North has deep pockets 

felt boots, a flash silk scarf. 


North is a pest and 

stings like a gadfly. 


North has a tongue of flame 

and knobby, crafty fingers. 


North is round 

as a malachite egg. 


North is a blue note leaning 

on the glottalic creak of river-ice. 


North is mouthing bone 

sound from a Jew’s harp. 


North tattles like a samovar 

her tall-tales steaming. 


North is a hut, eaves 

shaggy with lichen. 


North is a sentry— 

Baba Yaga’s black goose. 


North bangs hard 

on a horse-skin drum. 


North is a frost-bronzed 

wood pile. 


North sh-shouts 

your name. 

Walking Dwelling Thinking - Rebecca Hurst

This wood has a thousand exits and entrances: 

stiles, gates and tripets, gaps and breaches. 


This wood is hammer-pond, chestnut and chalybeate, 

charcoal and slag heap, leats and races. 


This wood hides the boar-sow in a thickety hemmel; 

is home to the scutty, the flindermouse, the kine. 


This wood is cut and coppiced and burned. 

Each decade catched-hurt—it takes a tumble. 


This wood is two green and clay flanks pinched 

by the link of iron bridge over water. 


This wood keeps its secrets: the peaty-black 

knuckerhole where the dragon lies sleeping. 


This wood scolds with a tawny owl’s brogue 

shrucking and shraping, kewick hoohoo. 


This wood is ashen, eldern, and oaken 

a mile from the village, ring-fenced, well-trodden. 


This wood summons you from out of your house 

to walk through leaf-fall and bluebells and moss. 

Wind in Trees – Vona Groarke

Tonight the wind tries on fancy dress

in the attic rooms of trees,


crinolines and winkle-pickers,

mustachios and swords,


a jewelled fob-watch keeping time

with my shutters’ throb and hum.


Silks crinkle precisely at my window

and, at my door, an ivory cane


is summoning my name.

I ask will anything ever change.


First the trees say ‘No’ to me.

Then the wind says ‘Yes’.

Pyramid – Frances Leviston

All along the skyline, cranes

quiet above rooftops,

conspicuous as knives dropped

vertically into carpet,


folded ironing-board-upright

or set at right-

angles, corner brackets

bolting the sky to the ground.


They dangle claws on chains,

unbaited hooks

balanced by elevated breeze-blocks,

into the unfinished town,


fishing a pond

that hasn’t been stocked.

Their paint-work’s bright as macs

in rain, or the mops and pans


a woman once persuaded me to sell

door to door,

describing in the air

of her living room a pyramid,


most mysterious

of all mysterious extancies, her red

nail climbing floors

to the vertex, where it stood,


or floated,

as she effortlessly said

“in no time at all

you’ll have a lifestyle just like mine…”


Through the cranes’

necks the cloudburst rings,

across the clad

stone hotel still missing


its penthouse, its punchline,

bucketing down

like the old cartoon

where a skeleton drinks champagne.



March 10th:        Deadline for entry


March 12th:        Composers notified


March 14th:        On the poems: One-hour workshop with John McAuliffe - 5pm

March 28th:        Drop-in sessions with Richard


April 23rd:           Deadline for sending a draft of the composition for the workshop. This does not have                               to be a finished score, but it should be enough to give everyone a good idea of what                               your final piece will be like


May 6th:              Workshop of composition drafts at the Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester.


June 1st:             Deadline for final score and cello part (if cello is used) to be sent to musicians


June 17th:           Performance day at Hallé St Peters. The day will include morning rehearsals, and                                    afternoon symposium bringing together scientists and creative researchers and an                                  early evening concert.

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