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2019 Call for Scores

To celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table, the European Chemical Society has developed a new version of the Periodic Table. The St Andrews New Music Ensemble in collaboration with Emeritus Professor David Cole-Hamilton are offering two prizes of £500 each to commission two composers to write a 5-6 minute work, or several shorter pieces totalling 5-6 mins based on one or more of the key messages of the new periodic table. Composers of any age and nationality are invited to apply to receive one of the two commissions. 


Application requirements:

– CV and biography

– A score and recording of an existing composition

– A 150-200 word description of how you plan to musically elucidate or illustrate one or more of the key messages (below) from Professor David Cole-Hamilton in the commission.

Applicants should send the above to


Instrumentation: flute, violin, trumpet, horn, bassoon and electronics (optional). Composers may use all five instruments, but no fewer than three. Any electronic parts should have patches provided. 

Closing date: 14 June, 2019

Winning composers announced and commissioned: 28 June, 2019

Performance of new compositions: 5 October, 2019 (Byre Theatre, St Andrews). The performance will be integrated into a lecture by David Cole-Hamilton about the new Periodic Table.

Travel and accomodation expenses up to £250 will be available for the winning composers to attend the perform.

For any queries regarding instrumentation, length or brief please contact Bede Williams on


Emeritus Professor David Cole-Hamilton from the University of St Andrews has summarised the key messages of the new period table that new compositions could highlight:

  • 90 elements are all the building blocks there are for our beautiful and diverse world.
  • Some are in plentiful supply and/or are constantly being recycled (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen; H, C, N and O)
  • Others are very vulnerable to dispersion if we go on using them as we do.
  • 4 elements (tin. tantalum, tungsten and gold; Sn, Ta, W and Au) can come from mines where wars are fought over the mineral rights.
  • 31 elements (including all 4 that can come from conflict minerals) are in mobile phones, the ultimate use and discard item.
  • 1.5 million mobile phones are exchanged in the UK every month. Many of the old phones are left in drawers or go to developing nations where they end up in landfill after children have attempted to remove the gold using very strong acids under appalling conditions.
  • The current main supply of indium (In) – used in all touch screens – is a by-product from zinc ores which will be exhausted in 20 years.
  • Tantalum is used in microcapacitors. Current supplies are only enough for less than 50 years; about 1/3 of current production can come from conflict minerals.
  • Helium is very stable and lighter than air. Once in the air it escapes from the upper atmosphere forever. It is used to cool MRI machines, in diving and in party balloons. It is recycled from the first two applications but continued use of party balloons could see all the helium used up in 80 years.
  • Despite highlighting the problem of elements being consumed, this periodic table is about hope. It is a wake up call to change our habits so that we can solve these problems by using less, changing consumer goods less often, repairing rather than discarding, recycling consumer goods, recovering key elements, and finding new materials which do the required job but only use earth abundant materials. 
  • The circular economy is a must and is coming fast.

To read more about the new Period Table, please visit


Formed in 2012, the St Andrews New Music Ensemble has built an enviable reputation for programming, commissioning and workshopping music by emerging and established composers from Scotland and beyond. The ensemble is frequently engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations, connecting the creation of new music with research in Anthrolology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Theology and Astronomy. The ensemble has already given over twenty world premieres and worked with James MacMillan, Paul Mealor, Sally Beamish, Thea Musgrave, Emily Doolittle, Tansy Davies and Eddie McGuire. Recent highlights have included performances at Queen's University Belfast, MacRobert Arts Centre Stirling, and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Steve Reich's Glasgow MINIMAL festival. In April 2017, the ensemble was joined by musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a concert of music by Cambridge-based composer Jeremy Thurlow. In February 2018 the ensemble gave the premiere performance of Emily Doolittle's Conversation, and in April 2018 the ensemble gave six world premieres by postgraduate composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Highlights of 2018-19 included a tour to the Orkney Science Festival, and the first performance of a new score by Andrew Hill (Univesrity of Greenwich) for Eugene Bauer's 1913 silent film A Twilight of a Woman's Soul.