International Songwriting Competition Leah Finegold

We’re delighted to announce that ICMP first-year Songwriting student, Leah Finegold, has been named as one of the two winners of this year’s prestigious ICMP / ATLA / Le Réacteur International Songwriting Contest. The competition is the centrepiece of ICMP’s collaborative relationship with Parisian music school ATLA. Now in its third year, the contest has been further enhanced by the exciting addition of French music industry partner Le Réacteur.

The finale of the contest, held on Thursday 21st March, saw five ICMP students travel to Paris to perform their own original material and compete with ATLA finalists in front of a packed crowd in ATLA’s Woodstock concert room. The five finalists representing ICMP were Jesus Correderas, Alfie Memet, Leah Finegold, Frances Murray and Lucia Carmignani. The finalists from ATLA were Estelle Couturier, Élodie Gervaise, Cassandre Oosthoek, Riccardo Morgante and Léo Zemor. 

Following multiple rounds of the competition in both schools, the final proved to be an outstanding showcase of up and coming talent. In fitting with the international theme of the contest, those showcasing material represented not only England and France, but also Spain, Italy and even Australia.

The judges for the event were ATLA’s Pedagogical Director Laurent Colombani and Songwriting Instructor (Chanson Française) Jean Jacques Nyssen, ICMP’s International Recruitment and Partnerships Manager Bruno Lopes, and Marino Crespino, the Director of Le Réacteur. The songs were judged under the categories of melody, lyrics, harmony and performance, with equal weighting given to each element.


From left to right: John Meldrum, JJ Nyssen, Marino Crespino, Laurent Colombani, Riccardo Morgante, Elodie Gervaise, Cassandre Oosthoek, Bruno Lopes, Leah Finegold, Jesus Correderas, Alfie Memet, Frances Murray, Leo Zémor, Estelle Couturier, Lucia Carmignani, Guillaume , Final Round MC Jamey Kent.

Following a spectacular showcase of talent, ICMP BA (Hons) Songwriting student Leah was victorious with her song ‘Oblivion’, alongside second-year ATLA student Riccardo Morgante and his song ‘My Little One’.

Both Leah and Riccardo are now set to receive an impressive prize bundle aimed at promoting their songs and profiles as emerging artists. They’ll benefit from:

  • a live audio and video recording of their songs thanks to new International Songwriting contest partner Le Réacteur
  • a residency with coaching sessions
  • a live gig to showcase their original material in front of 300 fans as opening acts for French band Pogo Car Crash Control on Saturday 11th May at l’Espace Icare, in Issy les Moulineaux, France
  • promotional support and advice from ICMP, ATLA and Le Réacteur prior to both their recordings and gigs.

About the ICMP / ATLA / Le Réacteur International Songwriting Contest

ICMP has seen its partnership with ATLA – France’s largest contemporary music school – grow over the past six years, generating ongoing collaborative opportunities between Paris and London for both staff and students. The introduction of the International Songwriting competition in 2016 took this to the next level, inspiring and supporting aspiring songwriters all over Europe. The addition this year of music industry partner Le Réacteur – an events company which hosts an impressive programme of professional concerts, master classes, jam sessions, open mic events, festivals and gigs for emerging artists, and an annual Battle of the Bands – has seen the competition go from strength to strength.


Jonathan Whiskerd, ICMP Songwriting degree Programme Leader, said he felt honoured to be involved in such a unique challenge:

The contest gives our writers the opportunity to experience the competitive side of the profession, within the supportive and nurturing environment of their institution. The process of application, shortlisting, first round performances and the live finals all offer meaningful experience of delivering under pressure – an essential skill for any professional.”

Head of ATLA, Eric Philippe, agreed:

We are very proud of our six-year partnership with ICMP and our new partnership with Le Réacteur. This unique European event brings concrete visibility of our students and future artists. ATLA is proud to be at the origin of such an event with its two partners.”

Marino Crespino, head of Le Réacteur, said:

With 50 dates scheduled each year for professional and emerging artists, Le Réacteur is indispensable in today’s fast-moving music world. The link between ICMP, ATLA and Le Réacteur is to foster a system where students not only learn music, but also put together bands, structure a repertoire and perform on stage in professional conditions.”

ICMP CEO Paul Kirkham said he was absolutely thrilled that Leah had been victorious: 

I couldn’t be more proud of Leah and all the other finalists who are a credit to themselves and ICMP/ATLA. We also must recognise the way tutors and support staff from both ICMP and ATLA have worked so hard to give students unique real-world experiences such as this, helping to ensure they graduate industry-ready and prepared to launch their music careers. This is a great competition and a great partnership between two really committed institutions and we look forward to more collaboration in the future."

We look forward to following the progress of both Leah and Riccardo and sharing future news relating to their prizes. Congratulations to both students!

Develop your songwriting

If you’re a songwriter looking to develop your craft and potentially enter the International Songwriting Contest for the 2019–2020 academic year, please get in touch. ICMP offers a range of songwriting programmes taught by our esteemed faculty of professional songwriters – from six-week evening courses for beginners, to undergraduate degrees and postgraduate programmes. Contact our Admissions team on +44 (0) 20 7328 0222 or by email at to find the right Songwriting course for you.

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