Song commission: open call

Photograph of a row of microphones, blurring in the distance (c) Ruby and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay.

The Liverpool Irish Festival has recently been successful in securing National Lottery Heritage Funds to expand work we’ve been doing as custodians of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail. More here:

Within the portfolio of work we’ll complete before Nov 2024, is a commission for a song, which forms the basis of this open call.

What we need

We need a song that can be sung by school children, choirs and Comhaltas groups, across the country, that honours…

    • the 1.3m people that travelled to and through Liverpool, before moving across the globe
    • the 2m people that died because of An Gorta Mór (The Great Famine)
    • the legacy of those that survived, continued life and rebuilt in host communities, including 300,000 Irish in Liverpool.

We would prefer for the song to be areligious and accessible, with opportunities for it to be sung solo and by groups.

The work will need to be provided without copyright restrictions to enable free usage, (re)publication, sharing and performance. The intellectual property of the song will always remain with the artist and credit will always be given by us. To enable free use by choirs, schools, amateur groups, etc, we ask that all song rights are dropped in favour of a free ‘cultural commons’ licence.

Selection process

Our intention is to keep this call open until 9am on Mon 4 March 2024, after which we’ll narrow the shortlists, liaise with candidates and take ideas forward.

We’re asking creatives to submit their song ideas (not completed work) to us by email, using no more than 500 words. For absolute clarity, we are not asking creatives to provide finished (or unpaid) work. We’re asking you to share your ideas, referencing what you think the work might sound like, what it is akin to and/or examples of potential lyrics. Those submitting ideas are encouraged to use all they can to share their ideas and vision, including YouTube clips, Soundcloud recordings, etc. We don’t expect the song to be written and done at the point of idea submission; but we need to see/hear clearly articulated ideas so we can gauge the tone, atmosphere and clarity of the music and lyrics.

Please email Emma Smith, Artistic Director and CEO on [email protected], labelling your email “Song commission; open call”.

From the submissions, we will do our best to make a selection.


The winning submission, will receive £1,000 to write/complete the song (music and lyrics), in consultation with our team. We don’t/won’t want to be overly prescriptive. That said, we must ensure the song is usable for our future needs and a good use of public money.

We have additional funds to score the piece for choirs and to produce a recording, before the end of June. This could be done by the winning creative, or outsourced to someone else. We will work this out in liaison with the selected maker.

Roll out

In July, we’ll share the score and recording with a group of choirs identified to perform the piece at the Irish Famine Memorial (Oct 2024). Our intention is to create a Liverpool Irish Famine Memorial event every Festival. This will invite and give space to the choirs to sing the song in unison.

This has the potential to be a huge project. There are multiple promotional opportunities that could happen over years. Future projects could stem from this, too. This will depend on the creative approach to creation, sharing and accessibility. All ideas on this are welcome.

Rights reserved

Though it is highly unlikely to be necessary, the Festival reserves the right to

    • extend the deadline, or
    • alter or withdraw this call…

…based on creative feedback, new learning or changes in funding, policy, governance, etc.

This commission is made possible using National Lottery Heritage Fund support.

Gaeilge National Lottery Heritage Fund logo.
Made possible with funds from The National Lottery Heritage Fund logo.