Stephen Oliver Award


When the composer Stephen Oliver died in 1992, he left the bulk of his estate in trust to provide funds to help young composers of opera and small scale opera companies, a continuation of the support that Stephen had given during his lifetime – many chamber opera performances would simply not have happened without his support. The primary aims of the Stephen Oliver Trust were to encourage the creation, promotion and performance of contemporary opera, and to encourage young people working in contemporary opera.  In 2006, the capital funds of the Stephen Oliver Trust were incorporated within the Countess of Munster Musical Trust: the Stephen Oliver Award is now awarded every other year to a young composer who has written a work for music theatre to assist with the cost of bringing that work to performance. The Award for 2021 will be for up to £5,000.

Application Procedure:

  • The Award is made biennially – the next Award will be in 2021.
  • The Award will be made to assist with the cost of bringing to performance a work which has been, or is in the process of being, written for music theatre.
  • Applicants should be able to demonstrate that a performance is in prospect.
  • There is no set application form.  The applicant should submit by email a copy of the score and libretto to which the application relates (and links to recordings if available) together with other examples of the applicant’s work.
  • In addition, the applicant should provide, also by email, detailed estimates of costings for bringing the work to production, together with an account of progress made in accessing other sources of funding and possible realisation dates.
  • New applications will be accepted from 1st January 2021.  The closing date for applications is 30th April 2021.

Please send all applications (and queries) to the Trust Secretary

You can also contact the Trust Secretary on 01428 685427.

If you would like further information about Stephen’s life and work, please go to:


Stephen Oliver Awards


Tête à Tête (Blind Date)

Blind Date premiered on 12 November 2007 at Riverside Studios where it ran for five performances before being toured to Birmingham, Newbury, Cambridge, Manchester and Bath.


Joanna LEE (Krazy Kat)

08/2010 – Tête á Tête & CHROMA.
Libretto: Howard Skempton. Singers: Sarah Leonard, Alison Wells, Joe Shovelton, Omar Ebrahim.
Director: Bill Bankes-Jones, Conductor: Tim Murray, Designer: Fabrice Serafino, Stage Manager: Sarah Tryfan.
Tête á Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios, London.
Krazy Kat winner of the Stephen Oliver Award. Project funded by the Stephen Oliver Award & The Leche Trust.


Laura BOWLER (The Sandman)

To help with the development and production of her new chamber opera The Sandman – based on E. T. A. Hoffman’s The Sandman with librettist Lavinia Murray and the support of ROH2.


Luke STYLES (Unborn in America)

To help with the costs of the 2014 UK Tour of his opera Unborn in America performed by Opera Up Close.


Laura BOWLER (Early Morning)

To support the commission and workshop  funds for the writing of a new Opera –  “A savagely surreal and satirical opera” by Edward Bond & Laura Bowler.


Gestalt Arts (Liquid History) – composer Sarah Dacey, writer/ director Ruth Mariner

 To support the development and production of Liquid History, an opera which tells the story of London, and the ebb and flow of its people through five found objects from the River Thames and from the Museum of London Docklands.


Tom COULT (Violet)

To support the development and production of Violet, a chamber opera in one act. The premiere was scheduled to open the 2020 Aldeburgh Festival but the premiere had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 restrictions. It is hoped that the opera will now be first produced in June 2022 but further details will follow when available.

In a town controlled by a monolithic clock, an hour is lost every day, throwing an isolated community into disarray. Long-held certainties evaporate as time is altered and nothing will be the same again. But, once the hours start disappearing, Violet, unlike the rest of the village’s terrified inhabitants, is exhilarated.  Something is finally happening to her.

Applicants are advised that the information submitted, including personal information, will be used for assessment and evaluation purposes by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust Trustees, staff and appointed independent advisers. The Countess of Munster Musical Trust will use the information that you submit on the application form to help us determine your suitability for an award and other related purposes. For full details of our Privacy Notice, please click here. If you have any queries regarding the personal information we hold about you, please address them to the Trust Secretary.