7th Annual Henfrey Prize for Composition
St Catherine’s College, Oxford

Sadie Harrison, composer/adjudicator
Shahbaz Hussain (tabla)
Helen Anahita Wilson (piano) 

£1000 prize

Call for participants

The annual Henfrey Prize for Composition supports the creation outstanding new chamber / acoustic music and is open to students and recent graduates from the University of Oxford with a prize of £1000. For this year’s competition, interested composers are invited to attend an initial workshop with Shahbaz Hussain (tabla) and Helen Anahita Wilson (piano) on Saturday 18 November 2023 at St Catherine’s College to become familiar with the performers and instrumentation. After the workshop, all attendees will be invited to submit an application to take part in the competition. The application will include a proposal describing the applicant’s interest in composing for the duo and a brief description of the piece that they plan to write (full application details below). It is a requirement to attend the workshop in order to submit an application to participate in the competition. From these applications, up to four composers will be selected to take part in this year’s competition. Competition participants will have six weeks to write a new 7 to 10-minute work for the duo (tabla and piano). Individual part-writing sessions with the musicians will take place in early January 2024 and revisions to scores and parts will be due at the end of the month.  The compositions will then be workshopped in person in mid-February, receiving feedback from Sadie Harrison and the musicians. Following the workshop, composers will be given time to revise their compositions before the final submission in early April. In Trinity Term, all four pieces will be premiered by the duo and the prize-winner will be selected at the end of the concert by Sadie Harrison. All composers will receive archival-grade recordings of their compositions to use for their professional development.



  • Friday, 17 November 2023 – Workshop registration deadline. Registration link: https://forms.office.com/e/wtuCePy6qS
  • Saturday, 18 November 2023, 2-5pm– Initial in-person workshop with musicians at St Catherine’s College
  • Monday, 27 November 2023, 5pm – Applications to participate in the competition due
  • Monday, 4 December 2023 – Composers notified (four candidates will be selected)
  • Friday 5 January 2024 – Scores and parts due
  • Saturday/Sunday, 13-14 January 2024, time TBA – Individual instrumental workshops with musicians(online)
  • Friday, 26 January 2024 – Revised scores/parts due
  • Tuesday, 13 February 2024, 2-5pm – In-person composition workshop at St Catherine’s College
  • Monday, 1 April 2024 – FINAL scores/parts due
  • Friday, 24 May 2024, 5.15pm – Public performance at St Catherine’s College, winner announced



This competition is open to any current University of Oxford student (undergraduate and postgraduate in any course of study) AND those who have completed their courses after May 2021.


Application Process (after attendance at the workshop)

The following application materials should be submitted to Alison Bell at masters.office@stcatz.ox.ac.uk.

Deadline: Monday 27 November 2023

  • A 350 to 500-word proposal describing your interest in composing for Shahbaz Hussain (tabla) and Helen Anahita Wilson (piano) and the piece you propose to write.
  • One existing or new score for chamber ensemble of no more than 11 musicians and lasting between 5 and 7 minutes, or an excerpt of the same duration. This should be in the form of a PDF.
  • A programme noteabout the composition (do not include information here about performers, commissioners, or premieres).
  • An audio recording or midi mock-up of the composition.
  • A CV of no more than 2 pages.

Applications will be reviewed by Laura Tunbridge, Professor of Music and Henfrey Fellow and Tutor at St Catherine’s College, the musicians, composer Sadie Harrison, and Dr Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, Director of Performance at St Catherine’s College. Up to four participants will be selected to take part in the competition. The selection process is necessarily subjective, and all aspects of an applicant’s materials will be taken into consideration including any personal or demographic details applicants wish to share. Selection criteria will include:

  • Creative engagement with this unique opportunity
  • Presentation of musical and artistic ideas
  • Previous compositional experience

The Henfrey Prize for Composition is an inclusive competition. Please contact us before the application deadline if you require access support or accommodations. If you have any questions, please email Tamsin Evans-Higgs at masters.office@stcatz.ox.ac.uk.


About the artists

Shahbaz Hussain (tabla) is regarded as one of the leading tabla virtuosos of his generation. He has received numerous accolades for his captivating performances, including receiving the prestigious “Son of Lahore” Award in Pakistan in 2008. Shahbaz began his training in the art of tabla at age five with his father, the late Ustad Mumtaz Hussain – a prominent vocalist. He later went on to study with tabla legends Ustad Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi Gharana (school), the late Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan from the Punjab Gharana and finally the late Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. Shahbaz is an extremely versatile tabla player. He has mastered all the imperative traditional skills as well as the ability to project those skills to more contemporary styles. His solo performances have gained great recognition all over the world. He is also much sought after for his accompaniment skills by many of the great masters’ musicians of India & Pakistan – including Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia and ghazal legend Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hasan to name but a few. Shahbaz regularly travels across the world to present performances and to teach and deliver lectures and workshops, including throughout Europe, North America & the Asian subcontinent. He has performed in many prestigious venues, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Lincoln Center in New York and London’s Royal Albert & Queen Elizabeth Halls. His band, Indus, has received critical acclaim for their debut album Firefly and they continue to tour the UK & internationally. Shahbaz is also passionate about passing on the knowledge of tabla to others. He is a dedicated teacher and regularly teaches across the country, including at the University of Newcastle and the University of Huddersfield.

Helen Anahita Wilson (piano) FRSA is a practice-based doctoral researcher at SOAS University of London and an award-winning pianist, composer, and sound artist. She is an alumna of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, University of Sussex, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and SOAS. Her recent work has included musical collaborations with Debashish Bhattacharya, the Mysore Brothers, Shahbaz Hussain, Talvin Singh, and visual artist Lisa Creagh. Recent commissions include Brighton Dome & Festival 2022/3, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival – hcmf// 2022, and Bloomsbury Festival 2020. She has performed at venues including London’s Southbank Centre (Purcell Room) and St Paul’s Cathedral (as musician-in-residence), and has toured extensively throughout Europe and India. Wilson has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, receives regular global radio play, and has released critically-acclaimed albums on the labels Golden Girl Records and New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings. Alongside performing her own works, she is a regular commissioner of new music by fellow contemporary composers and she also presents the global classical and art music show, Stereophonica, on Repeater Radio. She is currently working on two “composed documentaries” for radio exploring sonic understandings of the body, health, and, therefore, illness. She has been supported by Arts Council England, the Fund for Women Graduates, Help Musicians UK, and has recently been awarded the Francis Chagrin Composer Award by Sound and Music UK and a Thurston Dart Research Grant by the Royal Musical Association.

Sadie Harrison, composer

Sadie Harrison’s music has been performed and broadcast across the globe by many of the world’s leading ensembles and soloists. She is known particularly for the socio-political aspects of her music-making with many works challenging stereotypes of marginalised peoples – refugees, Afghan women, the deaf, the homeless – celebrating their creativity and individuality with powerful expressions of musical solidarity. For several years, Sadie also pursued a secondary career as an archaeologist. Reflecting her interest in the past, many of her compositions have been inspired by the traditional musics of old and extant cultures with cycles of pieces based on the folk music of Afghanistan, Lithuania, the Isle of Skye, the Northern Caucasus and the UK. Her works have been released to critical acclaim on Naxos, NMC, Cadenza, Sargasso, Prima Facie, Toccata Classics, BML, Divine Art/Metier, and Clarinet Classics:

OBSERVER: ‘disc of glittering intensity’

BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE: ‘beautiful and intriguing’

FANFARE: ’a special, fragile space’

5:4: ‘daringly wild…positively feral..utterly amazing’

COMPOSITION TODAY: ‘a riot of sound..a great shout of joy’

GRAMOPHONE: ‘ecstatic and ominous expression…increasingly intoxicating’

INTERNATIONAL PIANO MAGAZINE: ‘revelatory..an important disc’

THE STRAD: ‘blistering richness’

Supported by Arts Council England, Ambache Charitable Trust, Hinrichsen Foundation and PRSF (including Women in Music and Composers Fund grants), she has been Composer-in-Residence with the ground-breaking ensemble Cuatro Puntos, USA, the first Composer-in-Residence at the Bei Wu Sculpture Park, Berlin, and Composer-in-Association with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Her symphonic work Sapida-Dam-Nau for the Afghanistan Women’s Orchestra (Ensemble Zohra) was premiered at the Closing Concert of the World Economic Forum, Davos in January 2017 with subsequent performances in Geneva, Weimar and Berlin. Sadie was appointed as Visiting Fellow to Goldsmiths College, London in recognition of her unique compositional research work on Afghanistan. Sadie’s music is published by UYMP and ABRSM with works on Trinity and ABRSM examination board repertoire lists. She lectured in composition at Goldsmiths College, London until the early 2000s and now frequently gives guest lectures at conservatoires and universities both in the UK and abroad. She is currently Chair of Trustees for the new music charity Soundworld. Her website is www.sadieharrisoncomposer.co.uk.