As of September 2023, composition will become a first-study subject at The Yehudi Menuhin School.

This exciting new course will give aspiring composers the opportunity to hone and develop their creative skills and compositional voice within an intensive and carefully structured programme, in an environment surrounded by music making of the highest calibre.

Each student will be assigned a principal teacher, with whom they will have a weekly one-to-one lessons, and this will be supplemented by an array of additional classes, projects and opportunities, including:

  • Weekly seminars, focused on in-depth study of repertoire
  • A weekly techniques class, exploring a wide range of compositional styles and techniques, including the use of music technology
  • A weekly second-study lesson
  • Collaboration with YMS chamber groups on student compositions
  • Regular opportunities for performance of compositions
  • Creative projects with external partner organisations
  • Masterclasses and workshops with visiting composers
  • Additional subsidiary studies such as conducting and orchestration
  • A full complement of general music studies, including harmony, aural music theory & history

YMS is the perfect environment in which to pursue an intensive course of this kind, offering the following:

  • A composition faculty consisting of established, practising composers
  • Instrumental teachers of the highest calibre
  • World class concert hall, with recording facilities
  • An exciting programme of concerts given by visiting artists
  • Regular opportunities for performance & practical music making

Each year we invite a professional performer of a non-stringed instrument to lead a composition workshop for the pupils, and our students then have the opportunity to write for these additional instruments. The professional performer then returns to the School and performs some of the compositions at one of our public concerts.

John Cooney - Head of Composition & Academic Music

John Cooney studied composition at the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with Simon Bainbridge, George Benjamin and Robert Saxton, followed by a period of private study with Magnus Lindberg.

His music has been performed by a wide array of orchestras, ensembles and soloists, including BBC National Orchestra of Wales, London Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Nash Ensemble, Allegri Quartet, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Chroma, Psappha, Simon Desbruslais, Lisa Nelsen, Gwenllian Llyr, Melinda Maxwell, Graham Caskie & Ellen Baumring-Gledhill. His work has featured in the Aldeburgh, Huddersfield, Spitalfields and Vale of Glamorgan festivals, and his cello piece Tendril was commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music as part of their bicentenary celebrations. John’s music is published by Composers Edition and has been recorded for NMC.

John’s work has received several prestigious awards, most notably the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, as well as awards from the Leverhulme Trust, Arts Council, British Council and Performing Right Society. He has been Composer in Association with the Allegri Quartet, Composer in Residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and is an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

John is well known for his work in education and is Head of Composition at the Yehudi Menuhin School. He has been a Visiting Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London, an Associate Lecturer at Cardiff University, and has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music.

In addition, John has led major education and outreach projects across the UK and internationally, including work with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, South Bank Centre, Brodsky Quartet, Glyndebourne, City of London Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta and ISCM World Music Days.