mjf originals: new commissions for new times

This opportunity is not currently open for applications. However if you would like to learn more about mjf originals and read the brief for the most recent (January 2021) callout, read on…

mjf originals is our commissioning scheme for northern artists to create jazz-related new music. Since our very first commission in 2000, mjf originals has produced 25 major works, each premiered at one of our annual festivals.

For 2021, we’re taking a new approach to tackle the challenges of creating new work in different times. And we’re linking in our other talent development initiatives so that artists at different levels have more opportunities to learn. We’re inviting your ideas.

Our values for the scheme are still the same: artist-led, high-quality, ground-breaking, northern-focussed, and championing artists from all backgrounds.

But in a time when gathering large forces of musicians – and audiences – in the physical space is still difficult, we still want to provide our cherished platform for artists to innovate new creations for our festival audiences.

What’s changed because of Covid?

What are we looking for?

Previously, we’ve offered one or two large-scale festival commissions each year. We’re now redefining the concept of the mjf originals commission to embrace:

We’re especially interested in work by or for artists from diverse backgrounds, unusual collaborations, music for a specific time or place, work fusing other artforms and new ideas that push the boundaries of jazz.

We’d encourage you to think beyond the recent trends that have emerged throughout lockdown such as solo projects, music that merely overdubs layers of contributions from other players and work that reflects on the isolation of lockdown. These aren’t make-or-break rules, and you may wish to incorporate any of them if appropriate.

We are still committed to providing opportunities for new live work to be presented in the physical space in front of a live audience, either during the festival itself or during the year if circumstances dictate. But we’d like you to be creative in embracing all the current and ongoing challenges that this brings. We also encourage ideas that embrace new technologies, either in the creative process or the resulting delivery.

We’re introducing a new component to the scheme too. If you’re familiar with mjf’s hothouse programme, you’ll know it’s become a pioneering cultivation ground for diverse burgeoning talent and ideas. We’d like commissioned mjf originals composers to take on a mentoring role with one of our hothouse alumni to share expertise and best practice with our next generation of artists, and to share insights into the creative process in a masterclass to our hothouse cohort.

mjf originals was the first open jazz commission in the UK. The beauty of it has always been that it’s artist-led: your ideas are what still make it so special and we want to keep it this way, even though the cultural landscape now provides for many more new commission opportunities than were available when we launched the scheme.

The mjf team is working with event partners on potential plans for our 2021 festival , which we’ll announce in due course. Artists should keep their eyes peeled for when general submissions to play at mjf2021 open in the new year.

Artists previously commissioned are welcome to submit new proposals.

We are not currently accepting applications for mjf originals commissions.

mjf originals is supported by funding from Arts Council England. mjf is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner.