Located on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s mountainous Basque Country, San Sebastián (or Donostia in Basque) is celebrated for its culture, cuisine and beauty.

The cobblestoned old town (Parte Vieja) dates back to the 19th century reconstruction of the city - necessary after rampaging British and Portuguese troops, victorious over Napoleon’s army, razed it to the ground.

Queen Maria Cristina subsequently established her royal summerhouse in San Sebastián and the city’s past as a glamorous seaside resort remains in evidence. The Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta beaches are framed by the picturesque bayfront promenade.

Meanwhile, the city’s culinary culture is world famous - with seafood a particular speciality given the busy fishing port dating back generations. Narrow, winding streets are full of pintxo bars and restaurants. Esteemed chefs are drawn to the region and the city is only bested by Kyoto when it comes to Michelin stars per capita.

County Hall Arts (CHA) is delighted to announce its latest concours in honour of this historic and unique city. Classical music composers are invited to submit proposals for the Symphony San Sebastián with the opportunity to share in a prize pool of over €200,000.

Proposals should be inspired by and reflect San Sebastián its history and its culture, evoking the passion and hope which speaks to the city’s dramatic past and rich culture.

The first stage of the competition invites composers to submit a short "pitch document" (up to 3 pages, this may be text and/or image-based) setting out their vision for this classically composed Symphony San Sebastián. In addition, please supply an audio file or link to an earlier composition, a previous sample score composed for an orchestra or large ensemble and a biography/CV.

The concours is open for these 'first stage' submissions from 1st August 2023 through to 24th February 2024.

A selection of entrants will be long-listed and invited to create their symphony for a second stage of adjudication, with the winner due to be awarded a prize of €100,000. A prize of €50,000 is on offer tor the second placed composition, €30,000 for third place. Up to three other finalists will each be awarded €10,000.

The arts and cultural life are central to the city’s identity. Indeed, San Sebastian was selected as European Capital of Culture for 2016 with the motto, "Waves of people's energy”.

Every year on 20 January the locals celebrate the “Tamborrada” festival. For 24 hours, San Sebastián is filled with the sound of drums as revellers, dressed as chefs and soldiers, march in companies across the city.

The prestigious San Sebastián International Film Festival attracts great artists and cineastes each year while the Tabakalera (a former tobacco factory) is now the Contemporary Culture Centre - housing film schools, conservatoires and cultural archives.

Against such a vibrant backdrop, it is our hope that Symphony San Sebastián will provide the opportunity for an international artist of promise and importance to emerge.

Before you fill in the Submission Form, please read the Terms and Conditions.

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