LIFEM | 13-16 November 2024

Young Ensemble Competition


The London International Festival of Early Music invites applications from ensembles to take part in its 2022 Early Music Young Ensemble Competition. The preliminary round will be judged via audio or video recordings and a maximum of four ensembles will be selected to perform live in the final. The final will be held on Friday 11th November at St. Margaret’s Church in Blackheath at 2pm, as part of LIFEM 2022.  


The judges for both the preliminary round and the final will be:  

Laurence Cummings (Conductor & Harpsichordist, Academy of Ancient Music), Tatty Theo (Baroque Cello, The Brook Street Band) & Berén Nieto Galán (Historical Flutes, Taracea) 


1st Prize | £1,500 and a recital at LIFEM 2023 

2nd Prize | £1,000 

3rd Prize | £500 

Previous Winners

2020 Ensemble Hesperi & Ensemble Pro Victoria 

2018 Palisander & Pypker/Muskens Duo 

Joint Winner 2020
Joint Winner 2020
Ensemble Pro Victoria was founded at the University of Cambridge in 2015. The group’s recent focus has been on pre-reformation English music sung in choirbook formation from high-definition choirbook facsimiles and a replica Eton choirbook lectern, as part of the ARHC-funded Tudor Partbooks research project, led by Professor Magnus Williamson. Performances of this research have been central to the Newcastle Early Music Festival where EPV has been ensemble-in-residence for the past two years. Current and upcoming projects include the ‘Live from St Mary’s, London’, live-streamed series, Monteverdi a cinque voce for Early Music at Hexham, and Bach St John Passion for Easter 2021.

Joint Winner 2020
Joint Winner 2020
Ensemble Hesperi is a dynamic and innovative early music ensemble based in London, dedicated to promoting undiscovered Baroque repertoire, and exploring the fascinating links between Scotland, London, and the continent during the 18th century. In 2020, the ensemble was selected as Britten Pears Young Artists on the ‘Chamber Music in Residence’ programme and as ‘Take Note’ artists for Chiltern Arts Festival. Their 2019 project, ‘The Pheasant’s Eye’, celebrating Scottish music and Highland dance, was supported by a Lottery grant from Arts Council England. The ensemble has recorded for Classic FM, and appears regularly on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, always working to bring early music to new and more diverse audiences.


  • Ensembles must have a minimum of 2 members and a maximum of 8.  
  • Soloists with accompanists are not eligible.    
  • All ensemble members must be over 18 at the time of entry.  
  • The ensemble must have an average age of 30 or under on 11th November 2022 to be eligible.  
  • Competitors must predominantly perform repertory from the period ranging from the Middle Ages to the mid-18th century using historically informed playing techniques, instruments and stylistic conventions.  
  • Ensembles are welcomed from any country.  
  • Individuals may enter with any number of ensembles. 
  • Previous winning ensembles may not enter. 

Audio/Video Guidelines

The audio or video submitted must feature only the musicians who will take part in the competition. All individual members of the ensemble must be included. Two contrasting pieces should be chosen that best represent the ensemble’s usual programming. The audio/video must be un-edited and recorded in one take, just as in a live performance. It should be uploaded to a video platform (i.e. YouTube or Vimeo), but there should be no mention of the competition if the video is public. It is left to the ensemble’s discretion whether they wish to record a new entry for the competition, or use a pre-existing video. As two contrasting pieces are required, exact timing details of the pieces should be specified if taken from a longer video. If you have any questions regarding your audio or video, please contact

Programme Guidelines

The 20-minute programme that you provide as part of the application should be indicative of the type of programme that you would want to present at the final, but it does not have to be the same programme.  

Selection Process & Criteria

A maximum of four ensembles will be chosen to proceed to the live finals on Friday 11th November 2022 at LIFEM. Finalists will be notified that they have been successful by Friday 2nd September 2022. The judges will choose the finalists based on the following criteria: 

  • Musicianship 
  • Interpretation 
  • Historical style of performance 
  • Technical ability 
  • Repertoire choice 

The Final

The final will take place at 2pm on Friday 11th November at St. Margaret’s Church, Blackheath as part of LIFEM 2022. Finalists will be given a short soundcheck (no more than 30 minutes) on the morning of the final at the venue. There will be a double manual harpsichord (tuned at a=415) and a chamber organ (tuned at a=415/440) available for finalists to use. LIFEM may be able to assist with other keyboard instruments, but their procurement will ultimately be the responsibility of the finalists. The order of the finalists will be decided by LIFEM. The finalists’ programme and programme notes will need to be submitted before the end of September.  

Other Rules

  • The decisions of the panel are final and cannot be appealed. 
  • LIFEM reserves the right to record any or all of the competition final, and to organise broadcasts and/or distribute recordings of the final without recompense to the competitors. 
  • The competition will be organised in strict compliance with the UK Government guidance on COVID-19. 
  • The finalists will co-operate with LIFEM and provide requested material in a timely manner, for example ensemble photos, biographies and any other material needed by LIFEM to promote the competition and the final.  
  • LIFEM reserves the right to: 
    • Cancel or change the competition at any point 
    • Vary or change the prizes 
    • Substitute judges if required 
    • Disqualify any ensemble which breaches the rules 

Apply Online

Applications should be completed online below. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. After completing the online application form, your ensemble’s main contact will receive an invoice for the £25 entry fee which needs to be paid within 7 days.  

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