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Collegium21 New Music Competition

The French association Les Signes de l’Arc has long been an important promoter of contemporary harp music. Founded by Laurence Bancaud, Hélène Breschand, Aurélie Barbé and Mathilde Aubat-Andrieu, the association has developed a wealth of resources for the field. They have published an excellent book, La harpe aux XXe et XXIe siècles, which gives an overview of 20th and 21st century repertoire, notation – and organology; pedal, lever, electric, electroacoustic harps are covered, and also the MIDI harp, the harpe automatique, and prepared instruments. 

The book has hitherto only been available in French, but an English version is coming out on April 1st! Translated by Lilian Rossi and Jean Rossi under the title “Guide to the Contemporary Harp”, you can pre-orderer your copy now. Meanwhile, the association has also recently published helpful English-language summaries of the introduction, chapter breakdown and glossary.



Sylvano Bussotti: Fragmentations pour un joueur de harpes, Aldo Bruzzichelli, 1963. Image: Les Signes de l’Arc


Another important online resource is the association’s digital library of contemporary scores, some accompanied by audio extracts, and many available to download from the e-store. Beyond the internet, they run a touring project to help students discover contemporary music (“Harpes au présent”), publish newsletters, and since 2016 they have also organised a competition dedicated to new music. 

2019’s Collegium21 competition will take place on April 14th, at the CRR de Paris in the Rue Madrid. It continues the work of the Des Lyres et des Arts contest, organised by Ghislaine Petit-Volta. Open to all levels, each stage has a set work and a free-choice one – and candidates are invited to take part in masterclasses with the composers of the set pieces, also at the CRR on March 23rd and 24th. 

The closing date for applications is the 9th of March 2019; registration form and set work lists are available here


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