Nevis Carol Commissions

We are absolutely thrilled to be commissioning two new carols as a way to celebrate the festive season in what has been a challenging year for many people around the world.

Carol 1

This opportunity is open to all young people under the age of 18 studying in Scotland.

The chosen young composer will set a new Scots text to music to create a secular carol that will be performed by Nevis Ensemble and form the basis for a project where the public can submit recordings and videos for a film that will be premiered on Christmas Day.

The selected composer will be mentored by leading Scottish composer Stuart MacRae, and will have the option to work with Nevis Ensemble’s arranger to create the new carol. They will also receive two lessons from Stuart on composition in 2021.

Two runners up will each receive one composition lesson from Stuart MacRae.

To enter, composers should set the first stanza of Christina Rossetti’s poem In the bleak midwinter for voice and harmony instrument (piano, keyboard or guitar).

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”

This poem has been set to music by a number of composers, such as Holst, Chilcott, and Darke. Click on the links to hear the different settings.

Your music can be in any style (for instance, folk, pop, jazz, classical), and you can submit it in any way that suits you best, such as:

  • an audio or video recording of yourself singing/playing (this can be a simple phone recording);
  • a handwritten score (melody/chords, or written out melody and piano part);
  • a printed score from software such as Sibelius or Finale.

Or… any other way that best puts across your idea. If you aren’t sure, do get in touch at to ask any questions you might have.

Things to consider:

  • the new carol will be sung by lots of different people so you should also keep your entry within a ‘normal’ singable range. You can read more about what to consider here.
  • you won’t be alone in writing the new carol. Stuart will mentor you in the composition, and you will have the option – if you wish – to work with our arranger to help write it for full orchestra, so don’t worry about being able to write for all instruments!

To enter, send in your score/recording to and fill in the short form here by 5pm on Tuesday 10 November 2020.

Carol 2

This opportunity is open to all composers over the age of 18 and there is no limitation on country of residence.

A fee of £1000 will be offered to the successful composer.

The successful composer will set a new Scots Gaelic poem as a secular carol for voice and orchestra of around 2-3 minutes, which will be recorded by mezzo soprano Andrea Baker and Nevis Ensemble, and shared over the festive period.

For the successful composer, we will provide sessions with a Gaelic tutor, and given the short time-frame, the composer will – if they wish – be able to work with one of Nevis Ensemble’s arrangers on orchestration.

Submissions are welcome from composers, song-writers and music creators of all styles of music.

To apply, please submit the score of an existing work for ensemble (with a recording if possible), to and fill in the short form here by 5pm on Tuesday 10 November 2020.

We also understand that some may not score/write their music in a ‘standard classical’ way. If this is the case, and you are unsure about how or what to submit do get in touch and we’ll make sure your submission works in the best way for you.

For any questions or queries, please email