Call for Proposals: Esker Festival Orchestra 2024 - ‘The Planets’

Deadline: 16 February 2024 00:00

Call for Proposals : Esker Festival Orchestra 2024 - ‘The Planets’ 

The Esker Festival Orchestra is delighted to announce that as part of our 2024 festival and tour we are launching a new call for composition proposals. The aim of the call is to choose a composer who will then be commissioned to compose a short piece for large orchestra which will be performed in August as part of our programme alongside the legendary suite “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, including performances in Galway Cathedral and the National Concert Hall, Dublin. 

The Esker Festival Orchestra was set up in 2014 to provide a high quality, beneficial and meaningful musical opportunity for young emerging musicians from all across Ireland and for the first time to have an orchestra of this quality and scope based in Galway. We now also welcome musicians from all over the world to meet each summer to rehearse before performing several concerts throughout Ireland. Since our foundation we have established ourselves as Ireland's premiere orchestra for young and emerging professionals and the only group performing large scale orchestral works at this level. In 2023 we marked our 10th year with two sold out performances of Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony in Galway Cathedral and Saint Patrick's Cathedral Dublin. These performances featured the 90 piece Esker Festival Orchestra, the newly formed Esker Festival Choir and soloists from the Irish National Opera Studio. More information about the orchestra and a recording from our 2023 season can be found on our website

Following the application process, the chosen composer will be commissioned to compose a circa 5 minute ‘Earth’ movement to complete Holst’s Planets suite. The way in which the concept of the piece is related to the planet Earth is freely up to the composer. The orchestration for the new work may not exceed that of the Planets Suite:,, 2 Harps, 4 Perc., Celesta, Organ, 

The use of electronics will not be possible.

Applications can be submitted online via the following form

The Deadline for applications is February 16th 2024.

How to Apply 

To apply for the commission, interested composers should submit:

  • Scores of two or three existing works. Recordings are encouraged but not mandatory. 
  • A one page written concept for their ‘Earth’ movement 
  • One or two pages of orchestrated music to act as a brief sketch for the proposed composition. The aim for the sketch is to show your initial musical reaction to the concept and can be developed or changed freely throughout the composition process. The extent of the orchestration is freely up to the applicant, but should demonstrate some of your ideas and knowledge of orchestration.
  • Equal weight will be given to the quality of the existing works submitted and to the concept and sketch for the new composition. 
  • Please Submit all documents as PDF files and MP3s only for the audio or recordings submitted. The final composition and parts must be prepared using a notation software, but the sketch may be submitted as a scan or photo of a handwritten document.


Who may Apply

  • Composers born, or resident on the Island of Ireland are eligible to apply. 
  • Applications are welcomed from both emerging and established composers who may not yet have had the opportunity to compose for large orchestra. 
  • Composers who have had works performed by the Esker Festival Orchestra before are not entitled to apply.
  • All applicants will receive equal opportunity irrespective of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, ethnicity or indigenous status. We especially encourage those from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply. 


  • The chosen composer will receive a fee of €3000 to complete the composition. 
  • On top of this, the chosen composer may avail of consultations with an established CMC composer as well as feedback sessions from conductor and composer Peter Joyce.
  • Accommodation, meals and travel expenses during the rehearsals will be provided by the Esker Festival Orchestra.


  • All submissions will be assessed anonymously. This means all existing compositions, as well as the concept for the new composition and sketch should be submitted without any names or identifying features on the documents. 
  • All applications will then be processed by an independent staff member and submitted to the judging panel to maintain anonymity. 
  • The judging panel will consist of the conductor of the Esker Festival Orchestra Peter Joyce, one independent professional composer and one previous member of the orchestra. Any attempt to contact the judging panel prior to the assessment of the submissions will be an immediate ground for disqualification.

The preliminary schedule is as follows:

  • February 16th - Deadline for Submissions
  • Early March - Announcement of the winning composer
  • July 12th - Submission of a complete draft score followed by consultations and corrections with the conductor.
  • August 1st - Submission of the final completed score and orchestral parts
  • August 12th-18th - Rehearsals in the University of Galway and followed by performances in Galway and the NCH Dublin.