Update (July 5, 2011): The Villiers Quartet has revised its guidelines for its new music competition. The most notable change is the age restriction, which has been raised to 35. Good luck!

London’s Villiers Quartet is seeking new works by composers under 35. If you’re an emerging composer looking for an international performance opportunity, check out the guidelines to have your work premiered next season by this exciting, young ensemble. I’ll let the ensemble’s first violinist, James Dickenson, explain: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ9bzsWGJEQ[/youtube]

And here are their guidelines, which can also be found at the Villiers Quartet’s web site.

The 2012 Villiers Quartet New Works Competition

The Villiers Quartet seeks new compositions from young composers as part of its 2011-2012 concert season at St Andrew’s Church, Fulham Fields, London, UK. The concert season, which already consists of string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Delius, and Beethoven, will feature a competition open to an international field of new and upcoming composers.

Three finalists will be chosen via online voting and have their works performed in London by the Villiers Quartet on April 29th, 2012. The winner will be determined at the concert by audience vote. The winner will receive a prize of £500 and a studio recording of their piece, plus inclusion of their work into the Villiers Quartet repertoire for upcoming seasons.

Competition Requirements:

This competition is open to composers aged 35 and under as of January 5th, 2012.
All composition entries must be original and unpublished works written for string quartet instrumentation: 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello.
Compositions must be no longer than 20 minutes in length. You may write whatever form you want, and there is no limit to the number of movements. For instance, you might be inspired to write a one movement rhapsodic interlude. You might write a 20 movement work where each movement lasts one minute. Or you might follow the classical four-movement form as laid out by Haydn. The floor is wide open.
Deadline for submissions is January 5th, 2012. Submissions can be sent electronically, or by post. Applications sent by post must be postmarked no later than January 5th, 2012. Applications received or postmarked after this date may not be considered.
We encourage you to be creative and experimental. Most of all, we want to hear your music. For more information on competition guidelines, visit www.villiersquartet.com/2012competition.

9 Responses to “UK’s Villiers Quartet Hosts Competition for Young Composers”
  1. Christian says:

    Age limits are lame.

  2. “Unperformed works”? No, thank you.

    I don’t think it’s kosher to request unperformed works unless you’ve commissioned them yourself. Otherwise, the request is that composers dedicate considerable time and money to writing a piece “on spec,” only to be performed if it happens to be selected as the winner, and we all know that there may be many worthy and even exceptional entries in a competition that do not win.

    I’ve seen this a lot in competition entry guidelines lately, and it worries me. Performers: we love that you want to perform our work! We love that you want to get to know about new composers! But if you want to use the words “world premiere” in your press release, thus implying that the piece was written *for you*, you really should commission it.

    I’m curious how other composers feel about this.

  3. It’s crowdsourcing. Sound familiar? http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/eighth-blackbird-finale-national-composition-contest-crowdsourcing/Content?oid=2074200

    They can ask for whatever requirements they want, but it doesn’t mean that we have to like them.

    Sorry Villiers Quartet: get a better model and we’ll stop griping: honest.

  4. Evan Johnson says:

    I’m with Jeremy. The request for unperformed works bothers me a lot more than the age limit (and yes, I’m too old for it, albeit just barely!).

    If you want to present a world premiere, great, and I get it – but then commission it from the composer of the winning submission. I understand that you’re then committing to a piece that you haven’t seen yet, but hey, that’s part of the job description.

  5. Evan Johnson says:

    (I should add that it seems to me the performers would be more excited about this too — it gives them a chance to work with the composer, try things out, put their stamp on things, show their bag of tricks. Blog about it, or something. Just don’t ask composers to write 20-minute (!) pieces most of which may well never see the light of day.)

  6. Chris Becker says:

    I agree with Evan, Christian and Jeremy. And I also want to note that Eighth Blackbird took the comments on Sequenza 21 to heart and made some changes to their competition – although I don’t recall the details. But that’s an example of the positive change that this humble blog can inspire in our community.

    Now back to my cheeseburger…

  7. Based upon some of the comments in this thread, and feedback we have received from colleagues, we have updated the guidelines of our competition. We agree that listening to feedback is important, and while it is not possible to please everyone, it is important to understand the reactions of our audience and act accordingly. We are now accepting entries which have been performed before, but we keep the requirement that works must not have been published.

    Regarding the debate over competition guidelines and entry fees, as thoroughly discussed in earlier forums and articles posted on this blog, we know our competition remains an example of the eternal question of which guidelines are acceptable and which are not. Having recognised this, we stand by our current rules.

    We do not feel this competition is in any way exploitative, and did not intend for it to be from the outset. We are not seeking world premiere or exclusivity rights. Given the lack of opportunities for young composers to share their work, we simply aim to provide an outlet for them to be recognised on a larger scale, and will allow the winning entry to be chosen by public vote.

    As ours is a new competition, we understand not every composer will feel the rewards are worth their time and effort to enter. But for those who do want to take part in what we are trying to achieve—providing a platform to express creativity, build future relationships, and encourage new work, we welcome their efforts.

  8. To the Villiers Quartet,

    Many, many thanks for your comment, and for your revised guidelines–I (and I’m sure many others) really appreciate your point of view, and I’m grateful for your openness to our feedback.

    I think the unpublished requirement is totally fair, and I look forward to the results!

  9. Okay, everyone: I’ve edited the original post to reflect the Villiers’ new requirements. There’s still an age requirement, but it has been raised to 35 (which I hear is the official cut-off date for an “emerging composer.” I guess that makes me 3 years into mid-career? Yikes!).

    One thing I have to say about this and the eighth blackbird example: I can’t imagine this sort of exchange between a competition’s organizers and the target demographic happening just a decade ago. This is quite a new paradigm, at least for me, and a very exciting development.

  10.