Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho have been selected to take part in Glyndebourne’s Balancing the Score programme for 2023, the Sussex-based opera house has announced. The residency supports composers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the world of operatic composition.
The talent development scheme offers two composers in the early stages of their career the chance to spend three years immersing themselves in life at Glyndebourne. They will attend rehearsals and performances and take advantage of a variety of development opportunities, including composing fanfares for the opening night of Glyndebourne’s new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787), which opens the 2023 Glyndebourne Festival on 19 May.
The part-time residency began in March and will 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 have the opportunity to access a research and 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, 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 Learning & Engagement programme.
Lucy Armstrong cites Stephen Sondheim as one of her key early inspirations. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, 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’s latest music theatre piece Untold won the FEDORA Opera Prize 2022 ahead of its premiere at Concertgebouw Brugge in April. He added: “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.”
Balancing the Score was first announced in 2018, with the first residency launching in 2019. This first iteration was exclusively open to female composers. The four inaugural participants were Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson.
They spent several years immersing themselves in life at Glyndebourne and developing new work. This included the collaborative youth opera Pay the Piper, which premiered at Glyndebourne in February 2022 and won Best Opera at the Young Audiences Music (YAM) Awards.
For the second version of the scheme, the remit of the Balancing the Score programme 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.”
Lucy Armstrong and Alex Ho have been announced as the recipient’s of Glyndebourne’s Balancing the Score programme for 2023-26 (James Bellorini).