undefinedLondon Klezmer Quartet

Competition Overview

Launched in 2019 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of our formation and to further our engagement supporting young musicians, we are delighted to again invite composers aged up to 25 from across the UK to compose a new work, which takes advantage of the virtuosity of the dynamic London Klezmer Quartet.

Composers are invited to create a klezmer-styled piece for a band comprising violin, C or Bb clarinet, accordion and double bass. The piece should evoke the celebratory / soulful colours of this musical tradition. Most klezmer pieces are for dancing (from slow to fast tempo) and the melody is generally assigned to the upper voices, while the other instrumentalists provide harmony, rhythm, and some counterpoint, often by ear. The violin may also have a rhythmic and chordal role. Composing a melody with bassline and an indication of tempi, rhythms and harmony (folk musicians playing bass and accordion generally read chords above the stave) would be a good starting point for your submission. If shortlisted, you can then expand and develop your ideas and arrangement at a workshop on Thursday 14 May 2020 at Benslow Music led by composer Judith Weir.

A shortlist of entries will be put to a panel of judges, to include: Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music), Ilana Cravitz and Susi Evans (London Klezmer Quartet), and Peter Hewitt (Chief Executive, Benslow Music).  Two winners will be announced, one for each of the two age categories.

The winning work(s) will then be premiered by the London Klezmer Quarteton Saturday 31 October 2020 at Benslow Music in Hitchin as part of our International Concert Series.

“I was very surprised to hear that I won! I hoped I would do well but didn’t expect this fantastic news. It is an honour to have my piece played by a professional quartet 

Joe Berry (2019 Competition Winner, 18 years and under category)

“I’m thrilled and incredibly grateful to receive this award – it’s nice to know that, after 1.5 degrees in composition, I’m starting to do something right! I’m also really excited to work with the Coull Quartet; the opportunity to work with professional, skilled musicians is invaluable for a developing composer and I can’t wait to learn from this experience.”

Luciano Williamson (2019 Competition Winner, 19-25 years category)

Award Rules

Entry is open to all UK residents aged up to 25 at the time entry closes.

There are two categories for the awards as follows:

18 years and under on the date of submission

19 - 25 years on the date of submission

Employees and close family members of Benslow Music Trust and their close relatives are not eligible to enter. Proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested.

The composition should be between 3 and 4 minutes' duration.


Entrants must register their interest in entering the award by emailing info@benslowmusic.org by 5.00pm on Friday 1 November 2019 stating which age category they wish to enter.

Entrants should send one hard copy of the score in an A4 format and parts (preferably produced on computerised publishing software) to Music Administrator, Benslow Music Trust, Benslow Lane, Hitchin, SG4 9RB and one electronic copy of the score and parts (preferably in PDF format) by email to info@benslowmusic.org.

Completed work and application form (downloadable from the right-hand side of this page) should be received no later than 5.00pm on Monday 2 December 2019. Entries received after the deadline will not be considered.

Judging Criteria

The shortlisted entrants will be judged on the following criteria:

Accessibility (technically) to amateur, as well as professional, performers

Originality of composition fused with an awareness of the London Klezmer Quartet’s style

Selection Process

A shortlist of up to 8 entrants for each category will be chosen by a member of Benslow Music Trust and a professional composer.

The judging panel is unable to give feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Composers whose works are shortlisted will be invited to Benslow Music in Hitchin on Thursday 14 May 2020, when their compositions will be presented by and developed in collaboration with the London Klezmer Quartet in a workshop led by composer Judith Weir; the final submission date for reworked entries will be Thursday 4 June 2020.

Following the workshop, shortlisted composers are invited to resubmit their work for final judgement by our panel of judges, to include: Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music), Ilana Cravitz and Susi Evans (London Klezmer Quartet) and Peter Hewitt (Chief Executive of Benslow Music). Completed work should be received no later than 5.00pm on Thursday 4 June 2020. Two winners will be announced in July, one for each of the two age categories.

Benslow Music Trust’s selection of the winners is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

The Prize

The prize offered is a public performance of the winning compositions on Saturday 31 October 2020 as part of our International Concert Series at Benslow Music in Hitchin.

The winner will also receive a complimentary place on a Benslow Music Trust residential music courses of their choice.

The winner will receive a complimentary set of tickets to this concert for themselves and up to two members of their family/friends.

Copyright and Permissions

By submitting your composition, you grant Benslow Music Trust, its Members and the London Klezmer Quartet, free of charge, permission to perform the material and to hold a copy in the Benslow Music Library.

Copyright in your composition will remain with you after the premiere. You can continue to use the material in any way you wish and you can also permit others to use the material

All entries, including composers' details, may be used in publicity campaigns post award. Photographs of winning entries may also be used in publicity campaigns.

Any competitor under the age of 18 who attends a public performance must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Benslow Music Trust reserves the right to:

Cancel or adapt the award

Vary or change the prizes

Disqualify any entrant who breaches the rules or who commits a fraud, at any stage, if in their opinion it is deemed necessary or if circumstances arise outside its control.

The promoter of the award is Benslow Music Trust.

Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and agree to be bound by them by entering the award.

This competition is intended as an educational project and preference will be given to those who have not yet embarked on a professional career.