Association of British Orchestras


"Frequently ignorance is the main issue around music by women. The essential thing is for people to hear their works. When these lovely pieces are heard, there is no more reason for omitting them. Roll on inclusion"

Diana Ambache


Recognising that the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions are still limiting the opportunities for live performance in front of audiences, we have decided to extend the deadline for the Sirens fund in 2021.

What is the Sirens fund?

Annual grants will be allocated according to the range and value of each project. Each year over 10 years up to £19,000 will be shared between 4 to 5 projects for concerts, tours, recordings and education work deemed to be doing most to advance and promote the understanding of music by women. These will be selected by a panel agreed between the ABO and Diana Ambache. Orchestras are encouraged to use The Women of Note website as a resource, which lists orchestral music by historical women composers. The downloadable document can be accessed here. Please note that this is not an exclusive list and please let us know if you have works which you have discovered which you suggest should be added. Diana Ambache is also available for advice about the composers and their music, in advance of making your application, please contact the ABO for further information.


  • The scheme is open to full and associate members of the ABO
  • Pieces should be for orchestra including opera and choral works that require an orchestra. We are defining an orchestra as an ensemble of 12 or more including a minimum of one orchestral instrument.
  • Priority consideration will be given to projects showing substantial profile raising of female works, work that addresses a significant gap in provision, challenges contemporary attitudes, and takes an enterprising approach to influencing people
  • Please note that if the composer is still alive the piece will be ineligible. Pieces by living women composers may be included in the programme, as long as the historical piece is the main work for which you are seeking funding.


When assessing applications to this fund, we will be considering the potential short and long term impact of the applicant’s approach to programming the piece. This will include demonstrating:

  • The potential for the piece and the way it is programmed for the audience to appreciate – exploring new horizons, expanding the available repertoire and offering associated learning and participation work
  • The approach to the programming and promoting of the work within the orchestra’s planned artistic season and also beyond the main publicity, recordings, broadcasts and other avenues
  • What is the significance of the music?
  • A strong PR/marketing plan and if applicable, associated learning and participation work
  • The application deadline is 12 noon, Friday 30 July 2021, and the works should be programmed within two years from the deadline year.
  • This fund will be reviewed annually to ensure it is fit for purpose. If you are successfully funded two years in a row, you need to leave a year’s gap before applying again.
  • Applications must be made by the orchestra and all grants awarded via this fund will be paid direct to the orchestral organisation.

We reserve the right not to award all the available funds (£19,000) each year.

What can be funded?

We will consider every application on a case-by-case basis. We are inviting orchestras to propose why they have selected the piece; what makes it a distinctive work and how they will programme it in their tour or season, ensuring engagement with a large audience. Orchestras can apply for funding to help cover the following:

  • Orchestral rehearsal time
  • Music hire
  • Performer fees
  • Instrument Hire
  • Promotion/performance of work
  • Touring costs in the UK
  • A combination of some of the above

What can’t be funded?

  • New commissions
  • Recording only
  • International tours with no UK involvement

Funding application deadline

  • The deadline for receipt of applications is 12 noon Friday 30 July 2021. All submissions must be completed using the grant application form. This is a downloadable document on the ABO website.
  • The grant application should be emailed to Fiona Harvey:
  • You will receive an acknowledgement email within two working days following your submission. If information is missing from your application form, the email will provide a report of outstanding information. You will be asked to resubmit the grant application if necessary.

Notice of Award

  • If you are awarded a grant, you will receive notice of acceptance by email.
  • You will be emailed an offer letter and asked for your bank details.
  • Once you have returned your signed offer letter, payment of 80% of the grant will be made via BACS to your orchestra’s bank account. The remaining 20% will be paid on receipt and approval of your evaluation report.
  • If you are not awarded a grant, you will receive an email informing you of this news.

Performance dates

Performance dates 2021

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Grace Williams ‘Penillion’, Cadogan Hall, London – 10 June 2021

Previous year performance dates

Aurora Orchestra: Louise Farrenc’s Symphony no. 3 in G minor, as part of ‘Venus Unwrapped’ series, King’s Place, London - 14 December 2019

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance: Grace Williams’ Symphony no. 2 as part of the ‘Venus Blazing’ series - 12 December 2019

Philharmonia Orchestra: Lili Boulanger ‘D’un soir triste’, Bedford Corn Exchange – 12th November, Royal Festival Hall, London – 14 November 2019

Southbank Sinfonia: Dorothy Howell, ‘The Rock Overture’, ‘Divertissements’, ‘Humoresque’, ‘Koong Shee Ballet’, St. John’s Waterloo, London - 19 September 2019

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra: Dorothy Howell ‘Lamia’, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - 21 August 2019

Philharmonia Orchestra: Maria Antonia Walpurgis’ ‘Sinfonia to Talestri, Queen of the Amazon’ as part of ‘Orchestra Unwrapped’. November 2018 - Spring 2019 – Basingstoke, Canterbury, London, Leicester and Bedford

English Symphony Orchestra: Vítězslava Kaprálová ‘Partita for Piano and Strings’, Shirehall, Hereford – 3 March, and Kings Place, London - 28 April 2019

Chineke! Orchestra: Avril Coleridge-Taylor ‘Sussex Landscape Op 27’, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London - 22 April 2019

Academy of Ancient Music: Marianna Martinez and Maria Grimaldi, Cambridge, London and Eindhoven, March/April 2019

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic: Germaine Tailleferre and Cecile Chaminade, Liverpool and Preston - 28 February, 1 March and 3 March 2019

Southbank Sinfonia: Dorothy Howell workshop, St John’s Waterloo, London – 2 July 2018

Dates are subject to change, please check the organisations’ websites for up to date information

For further information: Please contact Fiona Harvey, Education and Youth Ensembles Consultant, ABO:

Related information

Catalogue Orchestral Music By Historical Women Composers

Sirens ABO Application Form 2020 21

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in early 2022. Further details will be available soon.