It's great news that Yorkshire Late Starter Strings' new music competition is back, the eighth iteration of this remarkable biennial event. I have very happy memories of my year as a judge, about five years ago, and really enjoyed every part of my visits to this friendly and original orchestra based in Leeds.
Admirably, there is no upper age limit for competition entrants, and no admission fee. (You need to be resident in the UK or Ireland.) You can enter any work suitable for amateur string orchestra as long as it hasn't yet been performed or published. Nicola LeFanu is this year's judge, and will give personal tutorials to the four semi-finalists - a prize well worth having in itself. These four shortlisted works will be carefully workshopped by the orchestra, who will then discuss them with Nicola and conductor Stuart Hazelton before awarding first prize. The challenge of writing for a late starters' group is potentially a very interesting opportunity.
The winner will then continue to work with the orchestra over an extended period before the public world premiere. These first performances have taken place in a variety of interesting Yorkshire locations, and my photo shows the view beyond St Barnabas Church, Weeton, where my choice of the YLSS winning work by Mark Browse , a beautiful set of variations on the plainsong Pange Lingua, was heard in 2018.