Archive for the “Contests” Category

The Seattle Symphony announces the third Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition
Competition. The Competition seeks to promote and recognize emerging composers who are
interested in Asian culture, music and traditions.
In partnership with local community groups, the Seattle Symphony honors and celebrates Seattle’s
Asian community with an annual Celebrate Asia event. The concept originated in 2008, through
collaboration with local Asian leaders who were keen to strengthen bonds with the broader
community through a cultural celebration.
The Seattle Symphony presents its 110th season in 2012–2013, under the artistic leadership of
Music Director Ludovic Morlot. The Orchestra performs in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in
downtown Seattle. The Symphony is internationally recognized for its adventurous programming of
contemporary works, its devotion to the classics, and its extensive recording history. From September
through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people.
The Seattle Symphony has gained international prominence with more than 140 recordings, twelve
GRAMMY® nominations and two Emmys. The 2012–2013 season marks its 110th year and the
second for Music Director Ludovic Morlot.
Award and Performance
The winning composer will receive a $1,000 award and an opportunity to visit Seattle for the world
premiere. The winning score will be premiered by the Seattle Symphony on January 27, 2013, in
Benaroya Hall at the annual Celebrate Asia concert.
All composers born after January 1, 1978, are eligible.
Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony Music Director
Simon Woods, Seattle Symphony Executive Director
Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning

Submission Guidelines
1) Works must have Asian influences (for example: Asian folk melodies, Asian stories and
legends, Asian traditional instruments).
2) Works must be new, original and accessible.
3) Works should be 3 to 6 minutes in duration. (There will be 30 minutes allotted to rehearsing
this new work.)
4) Works should be for orchestra or chamber orchestra with instrumentation no larger than
3333 – 4331 – T+3 – hp – kybd – str. Woodwind doublings are allowed.
5) The submitted work must have had no prior performances.
6) Interested composers should submit:
- A legible, bound, full score
- A recording of the piece on a CD (midi-format is OK)
- A clear description of the composition’s Asian influence(s)
- A biography, with current address, e-mail address, and phone number
- If selected, professionally prepared parts and 2 scores will be required 90 days prior
to the first rehearsal
Entry Fee and Deadline
There is no entry fee. All entries must arrive no later than Friday, August 31, 2012. Seattle Symphony
is not responsible for lost or damaged material. The winning composition will be announced before
Friday, September 28, 2012.
Send submission to:
Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition
ATTN: Amy Bokanev
Seattle Symphony
P.O. Box 21906
Seattle, WA 98111-3669
Questions and inquiries may be emailed to:

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Last May I began my monthly task of searching for composition competitions, calls for scores, etc., and came upon the Indianapolis Composition Competition.  I noted the substantial cash award, plus the performance by the ICO as part of Indiana State University’s 44th Contemporary Music Festival.  The announcement stated that:

The Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival/Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition was established to recognize outstanding composers of orchestral music. In addition to a monetary prize, the composer receiving first place will be invited to attend a performance of the winning composition by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra as part of the Festival’s activities. The winner also will be invited to speak at the Festival on a topic relating to his or her music. Other guests featured at the three-day Festival include the Principal Guest Composer, Gabriela Lena Frank, guest pianist Michael Kirkendoll, guest scholars, and composers participating in the Music Now concert. Since its beginning, more than 200 established and emerging composers—including eighteen winners of the Pulitzer Prize and five winners of the Grawemeyer Award—have participated in the Festival.

My immediate reaction (particularly to the bolded sentence) was “Ok, Joe, you have 0.01% chance of even being seriously considered. Is it really worth the time and $20 entry fee?”  I pondered my options for a bit and came to the conclusion, that yes, it was worth the time and entry fee, because if I did NOT enter, then I had a 0.0% chance of obtaining anything.  So, I entered, and had completely forgotten about the competition until I received an email and letter last week stating that I had, in fact, won the award.  I was stunned.  OK – now what?

I contacted the hosts and awarding organization and thanked them for the award, and told them that I was honored and happy to accept.  They said “Great!  Now send us the parts!”  I responded, “OK, I will!”  I hung up.  Then a sense of dread immediately ensued – I was planning to make some minor revisions to the piece following its premiere in April 2010 and I had not yet done so.  I reminded myself to stay calm, clear my mind, and then I set to work.  I finished the revisions in a couple of afternoons, and am now preparing the parts.

Now that the initial shock of winning the award and the stages of hurried preparations are behind me, I reflected upon my initial thought – not to enter – and must laugh a bit at myself.  Had I not entered, I would not have won.  My advice to all of the “young and emerging composers?”  Enter every competition you can.  If you do not have a piece that fits the instrumentation, then take a year and write one for the next year’s competition (if it is annual).  I am not suggesting that composers should “dive-bomb” every competition, rather we should take the time to search for competitions and calls for scores (I do this once every month), mark the competitions that we feel are important, and work diligently toward our goals.  We are the best arbiters of our music.  If we do not make the effort, who will?

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I’ve been following the Bravo TV reality series, “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” (fifth episode this week). It tracks a group of young-ish  artists, most of whom have already been exhibited, and assigns them a fresh project each week to be conceived and completed in about 1.5 days. 

The completed works are then displayed in a private gallery showing, followed by a critique from a panel of judges (a core of regulars, plus  one fresh prominent figure per week; one week it was Andres Serrano.)  The projects range from utilitarian-but-arty (design a book cover for a classic novel re-issue) to almost-unspecified (“do something outrageous”), and at times the artists receive their assignments by lot, with no say as to the subject agreeing with their own affinities (or preferred medium).

Although it’s the usual winnowing-out design typical of such programs — and I don’t at all care who gets tapped as eventual winner — I’d pinpoint the same two interesting elements within each hour-long segment:

•  The very different processes each of the artists follows in interpreting the assigned project. These are profiled in some detail — surprise! — and follow the gradual development of each new work. This manages to take up a big slice of the program, some 20+ minutes. It’s exhilarating to see cameras paying attention to a working-out that stems from labor which is primarily  ‘head-work’.  And  rare.

•  A refrain in the judges’ comments, present virtually every week: that the works they find successful do  *in some respect* provide for viewers to respond to the piece — and actively. (For example, they very much admired works in which the artist incorporated a mirror, or sign-in boards to register comment, or placed him/herself actually physically into the piece; etc.)

Of course the judges want  the artist’s individual personality to be expressed in the piece; but beyond that, and far from an auteur context where a viewer is only meant to “receive” an utterly  complete document, the judges want the art to invite the viewer to respond, so that the work is ‘incomplete’ unless and until someone reacts to it in a way that registers to other viewers. (This forested tree demands the listening ear be there! so its fall can be heard.)

There’s plenty of opinion flying about throughout  the episode  — in addition to the judges, the artists themselves comment liberally on one another’s  work throughout the show.  If you pay no mind to the trumped-up  personality conflicts and the bland or fatuous criticism (or the commercials), the  show can be worth screening.

The level of  the works  — particularly those by  three of the competitors still ‘alive’ — is certainly professional. And the prize is $100,000,  plus a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the program originators.

Would that composers could reap the same on-camera attention for our head-scratching  hours…!

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Jim Sector over at the Albany Symphony told me about competition kicking off just now, that some of you might be game for:

The Albany Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is proud to announce the orchestra’s first young composer competition: the “Composer to Center Stage” Reading Session. The ASO will hold an open call for scores starting on September 14th, 2009 and ending November 14th, 2009, available nationally to young and emerging composers looking to refine and develop their orchestral craft. From the pool of applicants, three composers will be selected to join the ASO in March 2010 to attend an open forum, hosted by nationally-acclaimed composer John Harbison, and to attend the ASO’s March 26th concert featuring Mr. Harbison’s music. In May, these finalists will be brought back during the orchestra’s annual American Music Festival, where they will have their pieces read by the symphony on May 22nd, meeting again with Mr. Harbison for feedback. An honorarium will be awarded to finalists, and both travel and housing will be provided for their trips to Albany.

A few of the more important rules for this one:

- Applicant must be either a US citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing, or studying full-time, in the United States.
- There are no age restrictions; however, applicants should be composers at the early stages of their professional careers.
- Each composer may submit only one composition for consideration.
- Only works that will not have been performed or read by a professional orchestra nor received a public performance prior to the reading date are eligible.
- Only works completed within the last five years will be considered.
- Works may be up to 15 minutes in length. Sections of longer works will be considered.
- Instrumentation should not exceed ASO’s standard symphonic complement. Works with instrumentation which exceed the above will be considered only with advance approval.
- Not eligible are concertos, choral works, works with excessive electronic elements.
- Works with Electronic elements are discouraged, but will be considered on a case-bycase basis. For works with electronics, MIDI, and/or digital technologies: include a one page statement describing the rationale for its use, as well as any pertinent production requirements and technical specifications.
- If selected, composers must provide professional, legible orchestral parts and scores prepared according to guidelines established by the Major Orchestral Librarians Association.
- The quality of the score submitted is the primary evaluation criteria. It is therefore in the applicant’s best interest that the score be clear, accurate, and the best representation of the composer’s work.

If you’re interested just contact Mr. Sector at, and he can send you the complete application & guidelines.

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Having just viewed from only slightly afar (my television) the Latin Grammys held this year here in Houston, I thought I’d conterbalance the crushing Juanes domination by mentioning that there was also a Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition buried down in there somewhere. For both sentimental and musical reasons I was rooting for Jorge Liderman‘s Barcelonazo, but the awards held true to form and picked a tremendously “pleasant” piece by the Costa Rican composer Carlos José Castro. I’ve managed to dig up links to a snatch (or more) of all the nominated pieces, though how long the links keep working is anyone’s guess:

Barcelonazo – Jorge Liderman, composer (Jorge Liderman) / Track from: Barcelonazo

Concierto Del Sol (Winner)– Carlos José Castro, composer (Orquesta Filarmónica De Costa Rica) / Track from: Orquesta Filarmónica De Costa Rica

Non Divisi – Roberto Valera, composer (Camerata Romeu) / Track from: Non Divisi

Tahhiyya Li Ossoulina – Sérgio Assad, composer (Sérgio y Odair Assad) / Track from: Jardim Abandonado

Variación Del Recuerdo – Aurelio De La Vega, composer (The North/South Chamber Orchestra) / Track from: Remembrances-Recuerdos

So you all can be the judge…

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A few nicely surprising identifications, but if the combined brainpower of the S21 crowd only recognized two-thirds of the 36 faces, seems — what with the long, cold and snowy holidays coming up — a little catching up on any of these diverse and worthwhile composers would be time well-spent:

1. Maryanne Amacher  2. Gerald Barry  3. Dennis Báthory-Kitsz

4. David Behrman  5. Earle Brown  6. Allison Cameron

7. Maria de Alvear  8. Francis Dhomont  9. Allain Gaussin

10. Francisco Guerrero-Marin  11. Kamran Ince  12. Iván Naranjo

13. Alphonse Izzo  14. Monique Jean  15. Camille Kerger

16. Christina Kubisch  17. Paul Lansky  18. Mario Lavista

19. Daniel Lentz  20. Stanley Lunetta  21. Marc Mellits

22. Gilberto Mendes  23. John Howell Morrison  24. Gráinne Mulvey

25. Sarah Peebles  26. Christopher Penrose  27. Eliane Radigue

28. John Rea  29. Marga Richter  30. Linda Catlin Smith

31. Yasunao Tone  32. Lois V. Vierk  33. María Cecilia Villanueva

34. Claude Vivier  35. James Wood  36. Isang Yun

Why these, here and now? Just as with the monoliths, as soon as you dig them up and fly to Jupiter, they’re not nearly as exciting… I happen to have a folder with all kinds of composer portraits, that I attach to the I.D. tags of MP3s in my collection. I like to put a face on the person behind the piece, to take a little time to not just know the music but the living, breathing person as well. These were just a few, chosen almost at random, of the folks I listen to with some regularity, and don’t see why you shouldn’t too.

As to the fabulous 4-CD prize, technically Kyle Gann got the most, but that’s almost too easy for our resident vetran of the trenches. David Toub wins in the creatively weird category, hands down!… But the real award should end up with John “Sparky” Prokop, for getting almost as many as Mr. Gann, and showing a certain depth and breadth in who he was able to pick out. So Sparky, head to my website and find the email address at the bottom of most any page, send me a little note & I’ll be sending YOU a Cage-feast for your holiday repast.

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Like the Monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey, this link simply appears, unbidden… What does it mean? What purpose can there be?… WHO will discover the answer?… (and win my own copy of the Asphodel 4-CD John Cage Atlas Eclipticalis & Winter Music delivered to their door?…) All I know is the magic number seems to be 32…

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