About the competition


This is designed to be a fun educational project to engage students in an exciting part of history, and give them the chance to see their creative efforts realized on stage. Also to provide opportunities to aspiring songwriters. The idea is that teachers/lecturers can run this competition as part of their curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity. The default is to make it a class project and select the best songs to submit at the end of term, but some teachers are just presenting the opportunity to their best students. Also some music teachers will ask their students to write the music and lyrics themselves, and some music teachers are working with students studying other subjects such as English, History, Politics or Spanish to provide the lyrics. Teaching support and help creating the score from an expert in composition may be available depending on where you are based, click here for details. In the next round (deadline 24/7/2017) we are also accepting competition entries into an adult songwriter category.

What to do

Check out the song themes tab to see what songs we are looking for and to access information to help develop the lyrics. Then write the song and submit by 24th July 2017. Also check the musical guidance tab for some tips on what we are looking for and examples of great musical numbers. You can also see a 44 minute video of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution for some background.

Deadlines and rules of submission

Cost (free of charge)

The competition is free to enter,  but in order to cover costs we suggest a £25 charge per song submitted to cover costs of prizes. But  whether or not you donate will not affect your chance of a prize. Please pay through our donations page at the Southampton University website here.

Deadline and number of submissions allowed:

For the first round in 2015 we set a limit of 3 submissions. For the next round (deadline 24/7/2017) there is no limit to the number of submissions.

What do I need to submit?

To submit songs (music and lyrics) you will need to submit a text file with the song lyrics (txt, docx, doc, pdf), the mp3 for the music (2-5 minutes long) , a music score (pdf, sib, logic) and a brief paragraph describing the rationale for the song and another paragraph describing the musical style and tone (allow about 75 -150 words for each).  Also the names/contact details of the author(s) of the lyrics and composer(s) of the music. You will also need to submit signed consent forms by each composer and author which also needs to be countersigned by the students’ parent/guardian if student is under 18. Assuming it is not an instrumental number, you will increase your chances of having your song chosen greatly if you include a sung vocal line. See the section on musical guidance for further details. In addition to registering and submitting online, please email fidel@soton.ac.uk the MP3, consent form, lyrics and score.

Music Score

Secondary level applicants need to include a “piano vocal score”  (pdf, sib, logic) which is the typical format for musicals (if more appropriate for your song, an acoustic guitar score is also acceptable).  A piano score is a vocal stave with a two-stave piano part underneath and chord symbols above. Here is an example from the Lion King:


Students at higher education level should submit a piano score and a full orchestra score.

The piano score (and orchestral score if you have it) should be uploaded with your submission.  If you submit without any score, we may have to get back to you to ask for one if the song is amongst the winners.

Benefits to students

We will award three prizes of £100 each to the writers of the top song in three age categories: 16 and under; 17-21 category, adult songwriter category.  This prize will be shared among all composers/writers of the song where there has been a group submission. If we get a large number of submissions or extra funding becomes available we will offer runners up prizes as well.

In addition we will present a University of Southampton certificate to all winning entries. This will look good on the wall and make a great addition to students’ cvs.

This provides an opportunity for students to learn at the same time as engaging in a fun and creative project. If their work is chosen to be in the final musical, they may have the opportunity to see it performed on stage either at their school, other schools or in theatres. Their authorship will be acknowledged, and so their success will make a great addition to their c.v. Also the idea is that as we promote the songs and the musical, we also where possible promote the songwriters, so as ‘Fidel’ grows, so does the reputation of the songwriters.

We are hosting regular events, such as the prize giving gala and X-factor style event at Turner Sims concert hall, 24th January 2016 and our show 15th July 2016 at Bitterne Park Sixth form theatre.

Benefits to participating institutions

The benefit to the institution is that it provides a fun and educational project for the students. Any institution that takes part has the right to stage the final musical once free of charge up to 31st Dec 2020. Any institution that has one of its students submit a winning song will have the right to stage this musical twice (any maybe more subject to permission) up to 31st Dec 2025. In return we ask that you and your students complete a short survey to enable us to assess the educational impact of the competition. We will post a link to the results on the website for those who are interested. Turning the raw songs into a full musical requires a lot of work, and how well we are able to do this depends on how much we raise via donations, so we ask also that participating schools donate to pay towards the script editor, music arrangers and prizes using the donate button.

For all participating institutions, upon request, we may be able to help to market your production. We will also be working with regional theatres and may be able to provide details of those who are able to offer drama and/or musical workshops to help schools put on their musical. For example Nuffield Theatre, Southampton are able to offer drama and/or music workshops, and their current charge is £200 per half-day workshop.

Legal Stuff

Rights, royalties and licenses

In submitting a song you are agreeing to grant us license to use this material in perpetuity without charge for the purposes of the musical. You are also agreeing to allow us to grant license to use this material to other bodies for the purpose of the musical.  This means that ownership and the right to use the songs/lyrics is still owned by the creator (that is whoever’s name is on the submission page), but that we also have license to use and/or modify this material as we see fit.

The schools/colleges/universities who are participating in this project should ensure they have the signed consent of students submitting their work, and additionally the signed consent of their parent/guardian if they are under 18.



Students should be made aware that they should submit original material and avoid copying or replicating existing work. For lyrics, students should avoid copying other lyrics, although they may draw upon publicly made speeches, e.g. phrases taken or translated from a speech made by Fidel Castro. Where this occurs, such parts should be in quotation marks, and the source indicated in the accompanying paragraph submitted with the lyrics.

We will check the winning entries for plagiarism, and will exclude any that we find to be copied from elsewhere without being properly acknowledged.

For full terms and conditions click (round 3 2016/7) http://fidelthemusical.org/terms-and-conditions-3rd-round/


The judges

The way in which entries are judged will depend upon the number of entries. If we have a high number of entries, we may whittle down to the final 3-5 in each song theme using a range of media platforms. For example we may offer participating institutions the opportunity to help to judge winning entries and/or allow the public an opportunity (e.g. via our website or radio/tv programme) to select the finalists. To ensure that the resulting musical has a reasonably consistent theme and tone we plan to invite a professional panel of academics from the University of Southampton and music professionals to choose the winning song from the finalists in each song theme. Songs presented to the public or judges will not show details of the composer/writer. The exception to this may be if, for example, a national TV station wants to take this on as an entertainment show to choose the finalists – in which case if they decide to include details of the song writers/composers, we shall get back to those chosen to take part to seek consent. If any of our judges are keen to find out contact details of the writers/performers (for example they particularly like them) we will get back to the submitting institution for permission.

The musical

The musical has grown so has been broken up into two musicals. The first one is about 2 hours and 20 minutes (with a short 90 minute version) and takes us from Fidel’s early years as an activist and the Coup by Batista in 1952  to Fidel’s victory in 1959. The second musical starts as Fidel now has to run Cuba and goes from 1959 to the present day.

All participating schools, colleges and universities will have the right to stage the resulting musical (including the script, lyrics and music) once free of charge  up till 31st Dec 2020.

Any institution that has one of its students submit a winning song will have the right to stage this musical twice (maybe more upon permission) up to 31st Dec 2025.

For all participating institutions, upon request, we may be able to help to market your production.

We will be working with regional theatres, especially those in regions that had a high number of submissions and may be able to provide details of those who are able to offer drama and/or musical workshops to help schools put on their musical. For example Nuffield Theatre, Southampton are able to offer drama and/or music workshops, and their current charge is £200 per half-day workshop.

We will also seek funding to put on the musical professionally. The resulting musical may not necessarily have the same songs and lyrics as the school version. But either way, we will let participating institutions know what productions are on, and seek ways to offer extra discounts to participating and winning institutions.

N.B. This is an educational not a commercial project. If the musical does become a commercial success, our initial plan was that any money that would normally go to royalties (we will use the standard WGGB rate of 2% musical composer and 2% lyricists) would instead go to a related charity. However we want the songwriters to benefit and are now seeking to develop a system whereby once the musical is finalised we hope to redo contracts with songwriters of songs that remain in the musical to allow them to receive a proportionate share of royalties.