Composer Lab 2023

Deadline: 9 December 2022 17:00

The Contemporary Music Centre, National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ lyric fm are delighted to continue their ongoing composer professional development partnership, Composer Lab. We are now accepting applications for Composer Lab 2023.

Composer Lab is a professional development initiative aimed at composers who have had limited opportunities to write for symphony orchestra. This project provides the participating composers with a creative and open environment in which to deepen their understanding of writing for the forces of a symphony orchestra. We are delighted to welcome back David Fennessy as our composer mentor for 2023. 

All applicants for Composer Lab 2023 will receive equal opportunity irrespective of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, ethnicity or indigenous status.

On the completion of the project, all works will receive a public performance by the National Symphony Orchestra in a radio and online broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm in Autumn 2023. 

What happens in Composer Lab?

  • A maximum of four composers will be selected to take part with three places reserved for composers represented by CMC and the additional one place available for another composer who was born or is resident on the Island of Ireland.
  • Selected composers will be expected to prepare a 6 – 8 minute work for symphony orchestra ( / / tmp+3 / hp / str). This may also include electronics. (The implementation of electronics will be the responsibility of the participating composer. Please ensure that you can provide any additional equipment necessary to facilitate the performance of your work).
  • This work-in-progress will be the focus of a preparatory meeting with Composer Lab mentor David Fennessy at the Contemporary Music Centre in late February 2023.
  • This work-in-progress will then be the focus of a workshop with the NSO section principals (or section leaders) in May 2023.
  • Following this, the work-in-progress will be the focus of an intensive public workshop with the NSO, conductor Gavin Maloney and mentor David Fennessy July 2023.
  • Revisions of the work-in-progress will be discussed in a further meeting with the mentor composer David Fennessy based on the learning from the public workshop with the NSO.
  • On subsequent completion of the revisions, the revised scores and parts will be due for submission by Mid-September 2023.
  • The new works developed through Composer Lab will be premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra in a radio broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm and streamed online in October 2023.

Would you like to apply for Composer Lab? 

We are now seeking applications for this initiative. In order to make a submission, composers must submit the following by email to by 5pm on Friday, 9th December 2022, with the subject heading ‘Composer Lab 2023’ :

  1. A short proposal outlining details of the piece you intend to write, how it relates to your existing working practice and how Composer Lab will enable you to realise your artistic intentions and develop your skills.
  2. Two recently completed full scores in pdf format (not excerpts) which demonstrate your potential to write for symphony orchestra.
  3. A link to a recording of a performance or electronic realisation of each score.
  4. C.V. to include details of past professional performances

What happens if your application is successful?

Selected participants will then be expected to:                        

  • Confirm their availability to attend the preparatory meeting with David Fennessy in late February 2023, a workshop with the section principals in May 2023, a public workshop with the NSO in July 2023 and the performance broadcast in October 2023.
  • Confirm that they will be able to submit the new work for symphony orchestra by September 2023 in the form of a full score (in PDF format) and parts (in PDF format) of the completed work and an electronic realisation of the piece to CMC by September 2023.                                    


  • There is no age restriction for applicants.​ We encourage composers of all ages to apply.
  • If you have made an unsuccessful application to Composer Lab in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and/or 2020, this does not preclude you from applying in 2023. ​Please take care to submit an updated application and, ​for Composer Lab 2023 applications that are based on previous applications, please take care to ​explain how you have developed your idea since last applying.
  • Those who have participated in Composer Lab in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are not eligible to apply. Please note that Composer Lab was postponed for 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid 19 Pandemic.
  • Composer Lab 2023 is open to those ​born or permanently resident on the island of Ireland.
  • Composer Lab is also open to those in full-time education at PhD level in the field of composition.
  • Three out of a maximum of four composers must be registered as composers with the Contemporary Music Centre.                          

Notes for applicants: 

  • The selection panel will consist of the mentor composer along with representatives from the National Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary Music Centre and an independent performer/composer.
  • Participating composers may apply for CMC travel bursaries and receive CMC score copying support.
  • Each participant composer will receive a €1000 stipend for their participation in Composer Lab. This stipend will be paid by CMC over the course of the project. 
  • The decision of the selection panel is final.
  • Composers whose applications are successful will be informed in mid-January 2023.
  • In the interest of fairness to all applicants, we will not be in a position to consider late applications. 

In the selection process, the panel will assess applications based on the following criteria:

  • How the applicant’s​ ​compositional practice​ ​will benefit from the mentorship and workshop process.
  • The artistic ambition of the proposal.
  • Where the composer is in their career at the time of their application.
  • How the applicant will develop as a composer by taking part in the Composer Lab project.

For further information, please contact: Keith Fennell, Production Coordinator at the Contemporary Music Centre at or on 01- 673 1922.

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