Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho. Photographer: James Bellorini

Glyndebourne announces two new participants for its Balancing the Score development scheme for composers

Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho have been selected to take part in Glyndebourne’s Balancing the Score programme, which supports composers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the world of operatic composition.

The talent development scheme offers the two composers in the early stages of their career the chance to spend three years immersing themselves in life at Glyndebourne, attending rehearsals and performances and taking advantage of a variety of development opportunities, including composing fanfares for the opening night of Glyndebourne’s new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which opens the 2023 Festival on 19 May.

This part-time residency will begin this month and last for three years, during which Armstrong and Ho will be mentored by Glyndebourne’s artistic director Stephen Langridge. They will receive an annual bursary and also have the opportunity to access a research & development fund to support the creation of new work during the period of the residency.

New for this year, the two participants will be commissioned to compose chamber music for a series of performances as part of Glyndebourne’s autumn season. These new works will be performed by the Glyndebourne Sinfonia (previously the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra), including members of Glyndebourne’s Jerwood Pit Perfect development scheme for talented young orchestral instrumentalists. They will also have the opportunity to work with the young people and local communities who take part in Glyndebourne’s vibrant Learning & Engagement programme.

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.’

This is the second iteration of the talent development scheme, which was announced in 2018 and began in 2019, at which time it was open exclusively to female composers. The four inaugural participants, Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson, spent several years immersing themselves in life at Glyndebourne and developing new work, including the collaborative youth opera Pay the Piper, which premiered at Glyndebourne in February 2022 and won Best Opera at the YAM Awards (Young Audiences Music Awards).

This year, 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.*

Stephen Langridge, artistic director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘Talent development and new music are two areas with a long tradition at Glyndebourne, and in our Balancing the Score scheme they align perfectly. We are thrilled that Lucy and Alex will join us, two brilliant young composers with a strong drive to write music theatre and opera. Over the next three years they will immerse themselves in all aspects of Glyndebourne’s work, discovering at first hand the practicalities and possibilities of making opera. We are looking forward to their residency with us, and the fresh ideas and new music which will no doubt spring from the opportunities ahead.’