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Balancing the Score 2023

A development scheme to support composers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Currently in its second generation, Glyndebourne’s Balancing the Score career development programme aims to nurture composers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the world of operatic composition.

The part-time residency gives two composers the opportunity to immerse themselves in life at Glyndebourne.

In March 2023, Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho were announced as the composers for 2023-2026.

The Balancing the Score composers are offered a variety of development opportunities over the 3 years. Armstrong and Ho will compose fanfares for the opening night of Glyndebourne’s new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni which opens the 2023 Festival. Following this, the two participants will be commissioned to compose chamber music for the Glyndebourne Sinfonia, including members of Glyndebourne’s Pit Perfect development scheme, to be performed as part of the 2023 autumn season. Alongside these opportunities, the composers will be able to attend rehearsals and performances in the Festival and autumn season.

The residency provides a range of development resources to the composers, who will be mentored by Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director Stephen Langridge. The composers will also receive an annual bursary and the opportunity to access a Research & Development fund to support the creation of new work. The Balancing the Score programme’s connection with young people and local communities will continue through Glyndebourne’s Learning & Engagement work. 

Lucy Armstrong, who studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, cites Stephen Sondheim as one of her key early inspirations and describes herself as most drawn to telling stories through song. She commented: ‘I’m so excited to have been selected for Glyndebourne’s Balancing the Score scheme. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to be involved with such an inspiring company. It’s a game changer for me as an opera composer and I can’t wait to get stuck in.’

British-Chinese composer Alex Ho, whose latest music theatre piece Untold won the FEDORA Opera Prize 2022 ahead of its premiere at Concertgebouw Brugge in April, said: ‘At such a difficult moment for opera in the UK, it is uplifting to see Glyndebourne investing in new voices. I look forward to making work with their generous support and am excited to continue challenging myself to find new and meaningful stories to tell.’

The first generation of the Balancing the Score development scheme began work in 2019. The inaugural participants were Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson. In February 2022, the Glyndebourne Youth Opera premiered the composers’ collaborative youth opera Pay the Piper which won Best Opera at the YAM (Young Audiences Music) Awards. 

In 2022, the remit of the Balancing the Score scheme was broadened, to invite applications from composers from a range of different backgrounds currently underrepresented in the world of operatic composition.*

* The different backgrounds currently underrepresented in the world of operatic composition might, for example, relate to the ten protected characteristics listed in the Equalities Act 2010, namely: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Glyndebourne also invited applications from those with backgrounds not listed as a protected characteristic, for example, socio-economic and educational. 

Image credits: Header image, Pay the Piper 2022, photo by Richard Hubert Smith | Image of Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho at Glyndebourne 2023, photo by James Bellorini

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