The Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award

Photograph: Times photographer James Glossop Harpist Rachel Groves, winner of The Times carol competition. For T2. Edinburgh, Scotland. 15-11-15

Photograph: Times photographer James Glossop  – Harpist Rachel Groves

This is a great opportunity for young composers aged 16 – 25 to win £500 and a premiere performance at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2020. It is not necessary for the composer to be a clarsach player.

Composers aged between 16 & 25 years of age are invited to present an original piece of music lasting no longer than 15, and no less than 10 minutes, suitable for:
a) Solo Clarsach/Non-pedal harp
b) Clarsach/Non-pedal harp and up to 3 other instruments and/or voices.

The award includes £500 and a premiere performance at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2020.

For further information, please contact (Gillian Cook), or call 0131 554 0212, or visit


Rachel Groves

My interest in composition began when I began playing the clarsach aged 11, and although I’ve written for different instrument combinations, there’s something really special about creating music to play on the harp. I have been writing music for the past few years, but especially since attending the Sound and Music Summer School in 2015, a weeklong composing course for 14-18 year olds. I’ve always been really interested to hear the previous entries of the Young Composers Award and thought I would love to compose something for the competition myself. I was so surprised and delighted when I got the letter to say I’d be able to play my music on the EIHF stage!

I decided to write a duet for clarsach and pedal harp, as their isn’t a lot of music around for this combination, and I think they each have something unique to offer. The light, delicate sound of the clarsach balances well with the fuller timbre of the pedal harp and its rich bass. The composition is called ‘Sun Moon and Stars’ and divided into three music movements, each evoking the atmosphere created by the three ‘lights’ of the sky.

I’m very grateful to the EIHF for setting up this award and to the Imlay Foundation for their support in funding it. In September 2017 I’m heading to Edinburgh University to study music where I’ll have the chance to work with experienced composers. It’s such a privilege to be able to play and create music on this wonderful instrument!

The Clarsach Society is most grateful to the Imlay Foundationwhose generous donation is supporting this Award.