The John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers

Competition downloads

Full rules and entry form for the 2023 composition competition may be downloaded below:

  • Competition Rules
  • Entry Form
  • In order to encourage the composition of music suitable for the liturgy, The Sanders Society holds a prestigious international competition offering young composers an opportunity to present an original piece of liturgical choral music suitable for performance within a cathedral setting. Full details of the requirements for the composition are found in the Competition Rules, including the Biblical text which must be set.

    The winning composer will receive the John Sanders Memorial Prize for Choral Composition of £1000, the possibility of a publishing contract with Encore Publications, and the winning composition will be considered for performance at an Evensong during the Three Choirs Festival 2023.

    The next composition competition for young composers will be judged in May 2023:

    • Closing date: 12 noon Friday 24th March 2023
    • Judging: May 2023
    • The winning composer will be notified by email, (confirmed by letter) and details of the winning composition will be announced on 16th June 2023 on this website
    • Judges:
      • Dr. Christopher Robinson
      • Bob Chilcott
      • Adrian Partington
      • Tim Rogers (Encore Publications)

    Full rules of the composition competition for young composers and an entry form may be downloaded below:

    In addition, entry forms for UK entries can be obtained by post, enclosing a stamped and addressed C5 envelope, from:

    The Sanders Society,
    144 Tuffley Avenue,
    Gloucester
    GL1 5NS

    Overseas applicants please contact info@sanderssociety.org.uk.


    2019 Result

    We are delighted to announce that James Speakman, Assistant Director of Music and Chapel Organist at Stowe School is the winner of the John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers 2019, with a setting of Tui sunt caeli.

    Judges: Dr Christopher Robinson, Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington, Timothy Rogers.


    2018 Result

    Although the Adjudicators of the 2018 John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers enjoyed looking in detail at the submitted compositions, they were unfortunately unable to select a suitable 2018 Competition Winner. The Adjudicators have provided a full written explanation of their decision including some extensive guidance for entrants in composing choral music.

    Judges: Dr Christopher Robinson, Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington, Timothy Rogers.


    2016 Result

    We are delighted to announce that Joshua Pacey of Clare College, Cambridge is the winner of the John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers 2016, with a setting of a 13th Century text Mary's Lullaby.

    Judges: Dr Christopher Robinson, Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington, Timothy Rogers.


    2015 Result

    It is with great regret that the judging panel have decided that the entries were not of sufficiently high quality to merit an award this year.


    2013 Result

    We are delighted to announce that from a very wide international field, William Cole of Clare College Cambridge is the winner of the John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers 2013, with an unaccompanied setting of Let all mortal flesh keep silence.

    Judges: Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington, Dr Christopher Robinson, Timothy Rogers.


    2011 Result

    The 2011 John Sanders Memorial Prize for Composition was not awarded after the judges decided that there was not a single composition which merited this valuable award.


    2009 Result

    The 2009 John Sanders Memorial Prize for Composition was awarded to Graham Ross for his a capella setting of "I sing of a Maiden". This work has subsequently received many performances, and we are excited to hear that Graham has received a number of new commissions since the award. Graham has also been appointed Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge from September 2010.

    The Sanders Society