Create the libretto for a new work based on the ‘Strangers’ of Norwich
The Norwich Philharmonic Society is seeking to commission a new piece for Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2025
Applications for this opportunity have now closed.

The Norwich Philharmonic Society is seeking to commission a substantial work for chorus, soloists and full symphony orchestra to be given its first performance at the 2025 Norfolk & Norwich Festival. They are seeking a writer to work with award-winning composer Dani Howard to create the libretto for the new work.

The new work will be based on the ‘Strangers’ of Norwich, the incomers who settled in the city from the 16th century, fleeing persecution in Europe and happily finding welcome rather than hate.   As a timely and topical reference to welcoming refugees, tolerance and diverse communities, it is a theme with a universal relevance as well as a particular meaning for local audiences. Through its wider salience, we expect this universal theme to give the work the potential to be embraced by other performers elsewhere. Download full brief for more information on the Norwich Strangers.

The new work

Drawing on the themes of flight and refuge as witnessed by the Norwich Strangers, the new piece will be a substantial work of around 35 minutes in length, written for mixed chorus, full symphony orchestra and possible 1 or 2 vocal soloists. It will be given its first performance by the Norwich Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in May 2025.

The text

There are a number of possible ways in which the text for the work might be developed and at this stage the composer is very open-minded. The final text may comprise any or all of the following components:

  • New text based on the Strangers theme, perhaps actual stories found in research
  • Existing relevant texts from literature exploring themes of persecution, flight and refuge
  • Quotations and/or stories from contemporary refugees re-settled in Norwich

To arrive at the final text will require a critical phase of research and development working not only with the composer but also researching relevant historic sources and archives and engaging with local refugee groups. We have already established contact with many of these individuals and we will facilitate introductions where needed. However we would expect the selected librettist to undertake relevant research and to talk to appropriate individual and refugee organisations, possibly through workshops and/or interviews. Clearly the text must suitably express the chosen themes.


  • 19 October 2022 – Brief issued to prospective writers
  • 9 December 2022 – Deadline for submitting proposals
  • January 2023 – Applications shortlisted and online interviews arranged with the composer
  • Late February 2023 – Selection and appointment of librettist
  • March 2023 – Start of libretto development phase


To cover all aspects of the libretto development as outlined above and inclusive of all workshops/interviews, research and expenses, we have identified a maximum budget of £10,000.

Please note this project will only go ahead if and when funding is secured. We have every confidence that this will be the case but we cannot guarantee it.  Any proposals must be submitted on this understanding.

How to apply

If the project interests you and you would like to be considered as a potential librettist for the proposed new work, we would very much like to hear from you. Full details on how to apply can be found in the briefing pack here.

Please email your proposal to Peggy Hughes at [email protected] by 5pm on Friday 9 December.

For any questions about the brief or an informal discussion please contact Catrina Nixon, Vice Chairman, Norwich Philharmonic Society at [email protected]

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