Passamezzo Nuovo – Competition for Composers!

May 6th, 2014

East Cork Early Music Festival invites Irish and Irish-based composers (there is no age limit) to write a new original piece for Baroque strings. The winning piece will be performed at ECEMF’s main concert on October 10th 2014 by the newly-formed Cork Baroque Orchestra and their guest director, the acclaimed violinist and Early Music specialist Elizabeth Wallfisch. The composer will also receive a €300 cash prize.

The composition has to be based on a ground bass form, such as bergamesca, passamezzo, chaconne, passacaglia, folia, etc. Composers may get as creative with the form as they like, but they should keep in mind the following:

1) the rehearsal time for the performance will be very limited;

2) no pre-recorded tapes, computers etc. may be used, just strings!

3) the use of gut strings and Baroque bows will both limit and enrich the possibilities of techniques used. The composers should make themselves familiar with what kind of writing works best for the instruments – for instance, by looking into Renaissance & Baroque repertoire, as well as existing contemporary compositions for Baroque strings.

To give composers a good idea of how the instruments work, violinist/violist Marja Gaynor and cellist Aoife Nic Athlaoich will give a workshop/demonstration in Cork School of Music (Union Quay) on Thursday May 22nd, 1pm. Composers interested in attending, please send an email to

The orchestra will consist approximately of 10 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and 1 violone or double bass. Harpsichord will NOT be used. The maximum length of the piece is 10 minutes. The judges are Baroque violinist Maya Homburger and composer and bass player Barry Guy.

The deadline is Friday 29th of August. Scores, together with a programme note/brief description of the piece, should be emailed to or sent by post to Marja Gaynor, 57 Sunday’s Well Road, Sunday’s Well, Cork. Please attach an administration fee of €20 either as cash, SEPA transfer (please enquire for details) or cheque made payable to ‘East Cork Early Music’.

Any enquiries can be emailed to

One Response

  1. peter morgan allan says:

    Hello Marja, Would you accept a passacaglia from New Zealand for your competition ? Peter Allan.

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