Call for participants

The annual Henfrey Prize for Composition supports the creation of outstanding new chamber/acoustic music and is open to students and recent graduates from the University of Oxford with a prize of £1,000.

For this year’s competition, interested composers are invited to attend an initial workshop with the Tangram on 6 November 2022 at St Catherine’s College (online attendance is also permitted) 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 Tangram and a brief description of the piece that they plan to write (full application details below). It is a requirement to attend the workshop either in person or online in order to submit an application.

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 Tangram (flutes and guzheng). Individual part-writing sessions with the duo will take place in January 2023 and revisions to scores and parts will be due in February. The compositions will then be workshopped in person in early March, receiving feedback from Tonia Ko 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 Tangram and the prize-winner will be selected at the end of the concert by Tonia Ko. All composers will receive archival-grade recordings of their compositions to use for their professional development.


  • Monday 31 October 2022 – workshop registration deadline
  • Sunday 6 November 2022, 2-5pm – initial in-person workshop with musicians at St Catherine’s College
  • Monday 14 November 2022, 5pm – applications to participate in the competition due
    • Monday 21 November 2022 – successful composers notified (up to four candidates will be selected)
    • Friday 6 January 2023 – scores and parts due
  • Sunday 15 January 2023, time TBC – individual instrumental workshops with musicians (online)
    • Friday 3 February 2022 – revised scores/parts due
  • Sunday 5 March 2023, time TBC – in-person composition workshop at St Catherine’s College with Tonia Ko & Tangram
    • Monday 3 April 2023 – FINAL scores/parts due
  • Tuesday 9 May 2023, 5.15pm – public performance at St Catherine’s College and 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 2020.

Application Process

The following application materials should be submitted to Alison Bell at The deadline is Friday 14 November 2022.

  • A 350- to 500-word proposal describing your interest in composing for Tangram 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 note about 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 two pages.

Applications will be reviewed by Laura Tunbridge, Professor of Music and Henfrey Fellow and Tutor at St Catherine’s College, a member of Tangram, 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 accommodation. If you have any questions, please email Alison Bell at

About the performers


Tangram is a London-based music collective, growing transnational community by creatively celebrating Chinese cultures. They are newly appointed Associate Artists at LSO St Luke’s 2022-25.

Made up of researchers, composers and performers of Chinese and western instruments, the group launched in 2019 as recipients of the Chinese Arts Now Artist Development Bursary and winners of Nonclassical’s Battle of the Bands. They have worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Silk Road Ensemble, New Earth Theatre, and are currently Associate Ensemble at SOAS University of London

Tangram’s compositions and performances delve into the richness and multiplicity of transnational Chinese experience, encouraging audiences to engage in nuanced cultural exchange and deep listening across perceived borders. Through the emotional languages of music, they hope to transcend the pervasive assumption that China and the West are mutually exclusive entities, in favour of imagining more interconnected futures. Read more about Tangram.

Tangram: Muqi Li (guzheng)

Muqi Li stands with a guzheng (a stringed instrument).Muqi Li is a guzheng (21-string zither) performing artist, educator, and improviser from Beijing, China. She has lived and actively performed throughout East Asia, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA, developing a unique style informed by improvisational and story-telling models as much as her traditional Chinese musical background.

She studied in the Chaozhou school of guzheng under two masters, Lin Ling of the China Conservatory of Music, and Chen Anhua of the Xinghai Conservatory of Music. She received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Capital Normal University in Beijing, a master’s degree in Music Performance from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (including a comparative study of the guzheng and koto), and a Graduate Diploma in contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She recently completed a master’s degree in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, focusing on integrated policy around arts and well-being in the UK.

Over the years Muqi has performed and been recorded at several prestigious venues, such as the Royal Albert Hall (for BBC Radio 3), the Southbank Centre, the Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium, and Abbey Road Studios (for the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). She has also won numerous international gold and silver prizes at guzheng competitions in China, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan.

Muqi has collaborated with performers from a wide range of musical traditions, including jazz, folk, and classical; on trombone, kora, janggu, mandolin, violin, piano, and sanshin. Her interdisciplinary collaborations have included improvised theatre, visual arts, electronic music, rock music, film noir, and sound effects.

Tangram: Daniel Shao (flute)

Daniel Shao smiles and holds a flute.Daniel Shao is a British-Chinese flautist, who studied at the Purcell School, University of Oxford, and Royal Academy of Music with teachers including Samuel Coles, graduating from both universities with first class honours and a DipRAM.

He now enjoys a varied freelance career, performing and recording with ensembles including the Philharmonia, Sinfonia Cymru, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Opera North, CBSO and RSNO, as well as coaching in a variety of settings, such as for the National Youth Orchestra.

He received training as a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra, performing around the globe at prestigious venues. His solo performances have been described as presenting ‘virtuosity, charm, and charisma in abundance’ (Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph), and he has won awards such as the British Flute Society Young Artist, Oxford Philharmonic Concerto Competition, and Royal Overseas League Sussex Prize.

Daniel enjoys new music and interdisciplinary collaboration, having studied contemporary techniques with Sophie Cherrier at Lucerne Festival Academy, and recently recorded a new duet by Nico Muhly with soprano Heloise Werner for Delphian Records, premiering at Wigmore Hall in 2022. As a founding member of Tangram, he works with other Chinese-associated artists to explore issues of diasporic identity, and the group recently received a Jerwood Arts Live Work Grant as well as Arts Council funding.

Composer: Tonia Ko

Tonia Ko’s creative evolution is largely guided by three conceptual pillars: texture, physical movement, and the relationship between melody and memory. These ideas permeate her work across a variety of media – from instrumental solos and large ensemble pieces, to improvisations and sound installations. No matter how traditional or experimental the medium, Ko’s work reveals a core that is at once whimsical, questioning, and lyrical.

Recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, Ko has been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles from a broad range of the music scene. She recently collaborated with Riot Ensemble, Tangram Collective, Grossman Ensemble, and Spektral Quartet. Her work has been performed at prominent venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, LSO St Luke’s, and featured at the Hertzbreakerz Sound Spaces Festival and the Thailand International Composition Festival.

Ko has received grants and awards from the Fromm and Barlow Foundations, Chamber Music America, American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as residencies at MacDowell, Copland House, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). She served as the 2015-17 Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists.

In the attempt to follow aural, visual, and tactile instincts in a holistic way, Ko mediates between the identities of composer, sound artist, and improviser. This has sparked interdisciplinary connections – most prominently ‘Breath, Contained’, an ongoing project using bubble wrap as a canvas for both art and sound. As a bubble wrap virtuoso, she has performed with other noted improvisers at Cafe OTO, Hundred Years Gallery, and the Ear Taxi Festival.

She received a 2021 Koussevitzky Commission to compose a concerto for bubble wrap and chamber orchestra, featuring her as soloist with Contemporaneous.

Ko was born in Hong Kong in 1988 and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. She earned a BM with Highest Distinction from the Eastman School of Music and an MM from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She holds a DMA from Cornell University, where she studied with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. Her practice has been enriched by further studies at the Tanglewood Music Center and Royaumont Académie Voix Nouvelles. She was the 2018-19 Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition.

Upon relocating to the United Kingdom, she served as 2019-20 Honorary Research Fellow at City, University of London and was appointed Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2020.