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Contemporary Composers

We value the opportunity we have to expand our field as musicians and support the composition of new works and bringing world premiere performances to life.

"Looking at this as an arts organization and new festival I think it’s very important to create new work because even though we might have our favorites that we like to listen to, it’s really important to find artists who are relevant in our times, and who are thinking about the same questions we’re all thinking about, to write music we can perform and people can experience through whatever lens they want."  

                                                                         Katie Tertell, President and Artistic Director

This season's programming will see three world-premieres by composers Judith Ring, Mark Boden and Ciaran Farrell. This summer's season will also see the U.S. premiere of two groundbreaking transcriptions by Welsh composer and violinist Simmy Singh. Read on to learn more about this season's contemporary composers!


ACMF 2022 Commissioned Composer

Sponsored by Berryville Graphics

Judith Ring (1976) has been writing music for over 20 years and has been greatly inspired by living in such places as Berlin, London, York, Paris and Dublin. In general her music stems from the electro-acoustic world and its core technique is based on the practices of musique concrète. Over the years this has expanded and been influenced by more improvised and instrumental territories derived from a deep exploration of instrumental timbre through collaborative projects with a large number of solo musicians. 

Most recent works include a set of cello pieces called WILDWOOD for cellist Martin Johnson, which was released in February 2022 on bandcamp, a choral piece for The Guinness Choir called The Weaver, a set of flute pieces for Lina Andonovska (one of which “A Breath of Fresh Air” features on Lina’s new CD “A Way A Lone A Last” on Diatribe records), and four pieces for vocal trio Silver Kites of which she is a member. All supported by either commission awards or bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland. 
Ring’s work is often deeply textural and developed through complex layering techniques. For the most part each piece is highly collaborative as she works closely with musicians to discover what their instruments can do. Over the years she has recorded a wide range of sound samples from the standard orchestral instruments to the Ondes Martenot and adapted viola. Each player offers something new to the mix and so each piece is unique to the player(s) involved.

In October 2014 her debut cd entitled What Was was released on Ergodos records to great acclaim. This was funded by the Music Network recording scheme.

Her EP The Ring Lieder was self-released in 2017 and used four poems by poet Roderick Ford as the lyrics for the songs. These were performed by Ring herself (voice and piano), Adrian Hart (violin), Lisa Dowdall (viola) and Kate Ellis (cello).

She has written pieces for Concorde ensemble, Crash Ensemble, Percussemble (Berlin), Trio Scordatura (Amsterdam), Tryst, University of York chamber orchestra, and Bradyworks (Canada). She has also written a large number of solo/duo with/without tape for Lina Andonovska (flute), Matthew Jacobson (drum kit), Martin Johnson (cello), Adele Johnson (viola), Michelle O’Rourke (voice), Kate Ellis (cello), Garth Knox (viola), Natasha Lohan (voice), Paul Roe (bass clarinet), Laura Moody (Cello), Damien Harron (percussion), Elisabeth Smalt (adapted viola), Malachy Robinson (double bass), Andre Leroux (tenor sax) and Rolf Hind (piano) and more. Her pieces have been performed worldwide.

After completing a PhD by composition at the University of York, UK in 2009 she returned to Ireland to re-establish herself on the Irish music scene. Since then she has expanded her musical output by writing for theatre (OFF PLAN by Simon Doyle), putting together a multidisciplinary festival called Sensorium with two colleagues from York, Angie Atmadjaja and Emily Kalies (as The-Link-Project). She is a current member of vocal trio Silver Kites and a former member of Laura Hyland’s group Clang Sayne.

She has lectured and been a tutor in composition at Trinity College Dublin in various capacities since 2019. 

Ring is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland.

For more information please visit:




Mark took his first step into music by studying with Peter Reynolds at RWCMD before continuing his studies with Ken Hesketh at the Royal College of Music, where he was generously supported by the RVW Trust and Henry Wood Trust. He graduated with Distinction from the MMus course in Advanced Composition in 2011.

He has been awarded a Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal (2008), the LSQ New Music Competition First Prize (2008), the Composer's of Wales William Mathias Composition Prize (2009), The Friends of the Music of St. Giles Cathedral Composition Competition (2010), the British Composer Awards (BASCA) Student Competition (2010) and the University of St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Composition Competition (2011). In 2015 he was awarded the prestigious John Clementi Collard Fellowship from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was re-awarded the fellowship in 2017. Mark was made an associate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2018.


Violinist and Composer

 Simmy Singh is violinist and composer from Wales, who’s ambition is to push the boundaries of classical music and its audiences and to explore creativity with the violin. Simmy believes variety really is the spice of life and she endeavours to stay true to this in her career. She co-founded the Manchester Collective and plays with renowned orchestras such as the Manchester Camerata and London Contemporary Orchestra; but her main passion is in merging her classical upbringing with the music of today. She leads the contemporary, crossover orchestras Kaleidoscope Orchestra, Untold Orchestra and Ignition Orchestra. She works closely with artists such as Abel Selaocoe, Bill Laurance, Gwilym Simcock and Portico Quartet and appears on all their latest releases. With her quartet, Amika, Simmy works closely with many leading jazz artists from the UK such as Alfa Mist, Jordan Rakei, Rob Luft and Alice Zawadski.

Through the pandemic, Simmy found time to focus on her own composition and she even took up a Masters as a Composer-Performer at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Through her music, Simmy is slowly finding a sound that incorporates all the music that has influenced her such as jazz, folk, classical, bluegrass and electronic. Her latest work, No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference, is a 30minute piece for solo violin, recorded strings and electronics, exploring the climate crisis and based on the work of Greta Thunberg, Joanna Macy and Thích Nhất Hạnh.

Ciaran Farrell.jpg


Composer, World Premiere Work at ACMF 2022

Irish composer Ciarán Farrell was born in Dublin, Ireland and graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1997. Growing up he studied piano and clarinet at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and later the guitar at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. He also studied with composer Ennio Morricone at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.  

He has worked with and received commissions from the BBC, RTÉ lyric fm, RTÉ Performing Groups, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, Craig Ogden, The Smith Quartet, Gerard McChrystal, Duo Ahlert and Schwab, John Feeley, Damien Kelly, Redbrick Duo,  Cois Ceim Dance Theatre, Irish Modern Dance Theatre, and Codetta amongest others.

Ciarán has also composed music for a number of TV and film productions, and has received commissions from RTÉ, C4, Discovery, Littlebird, Café Productions, and Non-Fiction Films.
His latest venture is a new music project entitled, 'Opium Jazz', and features some of Ireland's top musicians. The first EP released under this project title was called, 'Stealing Beauty' (2018), and was followed in 2020 by a second, sister EP entitled, 'Willow'. Both can be streamed from the, 'Opium Jazz', website, Full scores, and parts are also available for download.

He has been the recipient of numerous music bursary and commission awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, and his work is performed and broadcast regularly both at home and abroad.




Errollyn Wallen is a multi award-winning Belize-born British composer and performer. Her prolific output includes twenty-two operas and a large catalogue of orchestral, chamber and vocal works which are performed and broadcast throughout the world. She was the first black woman to have a work featured in the Proms. Errollyn composed for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games 2012, for the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, a specially commissioned song for the climate change conference, COP 26, 2021, and a re-imagining of Jerusalem for BBC’s Last Night of the Proms 2020.

BBC Radio 3 featured her music across the first week of 2022 for its flagship programme, Composer of the Week and she has made several radio documentaries including Classical Commonwealth, nominated for the Prix Europa, which explored the impact of colonialism on music in the Commonwealth.

Errollyn Wallen founded her own group, Ensemble X whose motto is “we don’t break down barriers in music…we don’t see any”. Their orchestral album PHOTOGRAPHY on the NMC label was voted a Top Ten Classical Album by USA’s National Public Radio. Orchestra X performed Errollyn’s composition Mighty River, which was featured in PRSF’s New Music Biennial 2017 and which is being performed at this year’s PRSF Biennial by National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at Coventry Cathedral and the Southbank, London.

Errollyn Wallen collaborated with artist Sonia Boyce on her installation, Feeling Her Way, for the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale which won the Golden Lion prize for Best National Participation.

Errollyn’s albums have travelled 7.84 million kilometres in space, completing 186 orbits around the Earth on NASA’s STS115 mission.

Her critically acclaimed opera, Dido’s Ghost premiered at the Barbican, London, in June 2021 and will receive its US premiere in 2023 in San Francisco by co-commissioners Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale.

Recent and forthcoming premieres include a piano concerto composed for pianist Rebeca Ormodia, The World’s Weather, an orchestral work premiered by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, and new choral works for King’s College Choir, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral and Harrow School.

The April premiere and tour of her latest opera (for Graeae Theatre Company), The Paradis Files, coincided with the premiere of Quamino’s Map, for Chicago Opera Theater.

Errollyn was awarded an MBE in 2007 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and a CBE in 2020 in the New Year Honours, for services to music.

Errollyn lives and composes in a Scottish lighthouse.

June 2022  |



Cellist and Composer

Ailbhe McDonagh is an Irish composer and cellist based in Dublin, Ireland. She is a member of the cello faculty of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. 

Ailbhe began composing at an early age and won first prizes for composition at 'Feis Ceoil', (the Irish National Music Festival) and in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.  While still at school the first of her pieces was published in 2002, when the RIAM Local Centre Examinations (Irish National Grade Examination System) included ‘Anastasia’ in their Grade 4 examination collection.
In addition to piano and cello, Ailbhe studied composition at university in Ireland.  Following that, she took classes in composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY while studying for her Master’s Degree in Performance on cello. 
Ailbhe composes for all instruments and ensembles. As a cellist, she performs worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician and performs contemporary music regularly. Most well-known for her compositions for piano for children, Ailbhe has had numerous compositions published by the RIAM Examinations System resulting in her pieces being performed nationally by thousands of children in Ireland.

Chamber music commissions include works for the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival, Hamburg Chamber Music Festival, Calary Music Festival and the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival, USA.

In 2017, Ailbhe released two books of piano compositions for the beginner pianist called ‘It’s a Piano Thing’ Books 1 & 2 which were published by Boosey&Hawkes. Since then, Ailbhe has been commissioned by performing artists and festivals worldwide.

In 2021, Ailbhe released two books of cello compositions for the young cellist with Boosey&Hawkes called ‘It’s a Cello Thing’ Books 1 & 2. Other publications for Boosey&Hawkes include works for violin, viola and double bass. She has also been published by LCM, Hal Leonard and on the ABRSM piano syllabus.


As one who loves poetry

for two celli

2018, revised 2020

Sarah Gibson is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist whose works draw on her breadth of experience as a collaborative performer with a deep interest in the creative process across various artistic mediums. She has received honors and recognitions such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Sound Investment composer, American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, Copland House Residency, Victor Herbert ASCAP award, and a Chamber Music America Grant. She has received commissions from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center, Arco Collaborative, Toulmin Foundation, Aspen Summer Music Festival & School, and Seattle Symphony, among others. Gibson’s music has been performed by the BBC Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Atlanta, Sarasota, and Seattle Symphonies, Jennifer Koh, HOCKET, and at various venues across the United States and in Europe.
Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, which has been lauded as "brilliant" by the LA Times' Mark Swed, and is a core artist for the inimitable Los Angeles Series, Piano Spheres. HOCKET has held residences at Avaloch Farm Music Institute and received grants from the Earle Brown Music Foundation and the Presser Foundation. HOCKET has performed with Seattle Symphony, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Kaleidscope Chamber Orchestra, and at such festivals as the MATA Festival, the L.A. Philharmonic's Noon to Midnight, Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, and the Other Minds Festival.
Sarah received degrees in Piano and Composition from Indiana University and the University of Southern California. Alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman, she is the Lead-Teaching Artist for the esteemed Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program. Sarah received degrees in Piano and Composition from Indiana University and the University of Southern California and is Assistant Professor in Composition at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University, Long Beach.

2022 Gibson headshot.jpg


Frederik Øland (Violin); Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (Violin);
Asbjørn Nørgaard (Viola); Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (Cello)

Among today’s many exceptional chamber music groups, the GRAMMY® nominated Danish String Quartet continuously asserts its preeminence. The Quartet’s playing reflects impeccable musicianship, sophisticated artistry, exquisite clarity of ensemble, and, above all, an expressivity inextricably bound to the music, from Haydn to Shostakovich to contemporary scores. Performances bring a rare musical spontaneity, giving audiences the sense of hearing even treasured canon repertoire as if for the first time, and exuding a palpable joy in music-making that have made them enormously in-demand on concert stages throughout the world. The recipient of many awards and prestigious appointments, including Musical America’s 2020 Ensemble of the Year and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Danish String Quartet was named in 2013 as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and appointed to the The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two).


American Fiddler

Mark O'Connor began his creative journey at the feet of American fiddling legend Benny Thomasson, and the iconic French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Now, at age 55, he has melded these influences into a new American classical music, and is perpetuating his vision of an American School of String Playing.


Mr. O’Connor has won three Grammys, seven CMA awards as well as several national fiddle, guitar and mandolin champion titles. His distinguished career includes representing the United States Information Agency in cultural diplomacy to six continents and performing in front of several U.S. presidents.

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