News: London Oriana Choir announces the launch of ‘five15’

A major new pioneering initiative to promote women composers
  • 15 choral works commissioned from five women composers over the next five years
  • Educational outreach, recordings, publishing, competition, festival all part of the plan
  • Cheryl Frances-Hoad appointed as launch composer-in-residence
  • Leading names in the industry voice their support
  • Launch concert in the Dry Berth at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, Wednesday 6th July, 2016
  • Independent IPSOS survey highlights gender gap in the public’s musical knowledge – only 4% of adults could name a woman composer


The London Oriana Choir has announced the launch of a ground-breaking new musical venture championing the musical talent of women composers.

The heart of the project, known as five15, is the commissioning of 15 brand new choral works from five women over the next five years, but the plan is to include a programme of new performances, educational projects, recordings and other initiatives to raise the profile of classical music written by women across the UK, as well as helping to encourage and develop the talents of new young writers.

The first composer-in-residence is the award-winning Cheryl Frances-Hoad and the project will kick off in style this summer with a special concert at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich featuring new music from the first five15 commission, as part of a programme of events marking the re-opening of The Queen’s House this year.

This is also the start of a new, longer term collaboration between the choir and the Royal Museums Greenwich, involving its appointment as choir-in-residence for a three-year period, annual performances at the Cutty Sark amongst other events at the Royal Museums and involvement in its education and outreach programmes.

Dominic Peckham, musical director of the London Oriana Choir, said:

“The lack of exposure of the work of women composers is still sadly evident – the results of the independent survey we conducted show that very clearly. The London Oriana Choir has long been associated with commissioning and performing their music but felt that fresh impetus, new thinking and organisation is now needed to bring about greater change. I am very proud and excited to be involved with this project, which already has the support of several high profile individuals and organisations, and we hope that others will join us in developing five15 even further.”

Speaking of her appointment, Cheryl Frances-Hoad said:

“I am thrilled to be the launch composer of the five15 project and am looking forward to hearing the premières of all the new works by female composers that will be created in the next five years. I am sure the project will bring to the fore many positive role models for young composers.” 

The project has the backing of some major names in the classical music industry, including composer Cecilia McDowall who said: “The London Oriana Choir’s inspired project – five15 – brings a new and exciting perspective in highlighting the work of women composers. Conceived as a multi-faceted initiative it offers a broad spectrum of creative possibilities and will give many wonderful opportunities for showcasing new work in superb historic locations.

Composer and arranger Rachel Fuller observed:  “I’m really excited to hear that London Oriana Choir is launching this pioneering project to support and highlight the work of women composers. Composing and the development of young composers is frequently perceived as ‘a man’s’ profession. That’s changing!!”

BASCA welcomes the London Oriana Choir’s plans for commissioning 15 works by five female composers in the next five years,” Vick Bain, CEO of BASCA (British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors), commented. “This is just the sort of initiative that is urgently needed to address the obvious inequality in composition. Over 80% of all composers are male and thus win most commissions in an ever perpetuating cycle. So by creating demand and profile for new works by female composers this will give heart to existing female professionals and inspiration to those young women coming through the ranks just entering the profession.  We very much look forward to hearing the finished pieces!”  

British composer and performer Kerry Andrew commented: “I’m a strong believer in positive prejudice, and I’m loving the London Oriana Choir’s tiered approach to promoting great music by women, from turning the spotlight on existing work to creating opportunities for emerging composers. Go, Oriana!”

Anyone interested in learning more about all aspects of the project should visit the five15 website where full details and contact information are available.

(Source: press release)



  1. Why do women have to be given special treatment? Why can’t women earn recognition from their own efforts, like men have always had to do?! Why do women get special privilege and promotion?! These type of special treatments erode the true accomplishments of women and are completely unfair to men who have to work harder for the same benefits! This is sexism and bigotry at its worst and I hope some man sues this organization for discrimination! I’ve very sad to see this type of sexist nonsense in 2016!

    • Hi Chris,
      As males ourselves, I think it is unfathomably difficult to really comprehend how truly privileged we have been throughout our lives, purely due to the existence of “YX” chromosomes at conception; as opposed to “XX”.
      Entrenched gender stereotypes, and downright sexism, still pervades multiple facets of society: open up a toy catalogue, and the girls toys will be overwhelmingly pink, with a blatant focus on housewife tasks/ home making, babies, clothing, beauty and body image. The boy toys instead focus on engineering; chemistry/science, medicine, and heavy-duty “action.”

      In some parts of the world, girls as young as 9 are married off to men quadruple their age; women are not allowed to drive, and still suffer from glass ceilings across many professions – surgery, management, engineering, and science being the most common off the top of my head.

      Look at domestic abuse statistics, and most victims are women. Study rape statistics and a similar pattern arises, whilst society bizarrely still tends to blame the woman for being raped, as opposed to the man who forcibly inserted his erect penis into somebody against their consent. I could easily go on.

      The classical music canon is overwhelmingly saturated with works by white, male composers. Yes, many white, male composers have been left by the wayside, but at least they’ve been considered in the first place, as opposed to completely discounted purely due to gender or race.

      I strongly welcome the Oriana Choir’s decision, and very much hope you can support it, too. Not for our sake, but for the women in your life you love and respect.

    • ‘Sexism and bigotry at its worst’ in my experience very rarely takes the form of a cultural programme.

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