Composers' Academy

The Philharmonia Composers' Academy, presented in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society and allied to the Orchestra’s prestigious Music of Today contemporary music series, annually offers the opportunity for three talented emerging composers to write an original chamber work for a Philharmonia Ensemble.

Music of Today Artistic Director - Unsuk Chin © Eric Richmond

Music of Today Artistic Director Unsuk Chin

The 2017/18 composers, selected by an extremely competitive adjudication process, are Freya Waley-Cohen, Eugene Birman and Austin Leung. Their 10-minute new works were premiered by an ensemble of Philharmonia musicians at a Music of Today concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday 7 June 2018 at 6pm, prior to a full Philharmonia Orchestra concert.

In addition to this high-profile performance, the Academy guides the composers through the writing process by Music of Today Artistic Director Unsuk Chin, as well as benefitting from specially curated seminars, masterclasses, instrument exploration sessions and a ‘works in progress’ workshop.

Composers Academy Fellows 2017/18

Eugene Birman

A composer of music of "high drama" and "intense emotion" (BBC), "at once, ingenious, hypnotic, brave, and beautiful” (Festival Internazionale A.F. Lavagnino), Eugene Birman (b. 1987) has written for symphony orchestras (London Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra), choirs (BBC Singers, Latvian Radio Choir, Eric Ericsons Kammarkör), and leading ensembles and soloists ... Read more.

Freya Waley-Cohen

Freya Waley Cohen’s music has been performed in the Sage Gateshead, St John’s Smith Square, The Barbican Centre as part of the Sound Unbound weekend, The British Film Institute, The National Portrait Gallery, The National Maritime Museum and at Aldeburgh, Tanglewood, Dartington, Cheltenham, St Magnus, Ryedale and Spitalfields festivals ... Read more.

Austin Leung

In 2008, Leung was awarded a half scholarship to study in the University of Hong Kong, majoring in Medical Engineering. In his second year of study, he occasionally joined the university choir which served as the enlightenment of his music journey. Being inspired deeply, he started learning and practising music for around 6 hours a day. Two years later, he acquired his first ABRSM Grade 5 and Grade 8 certificates in both violin and music theory. Read more.



If you would like to support the Composer's Academy, please contact the Philharmonia’s Development team on 020 7921 3903 or

The Philharmonia's Composers' Academy is generously supported by:

Royal Philharmonic Society logoPRS for Music Foundation logoErnst von Siemens Music Foundation

We are also grateful to the following for their support:

Boltini Trust

The Leche Trust

RVW Trust

Composers' Academy partner in Leicester: