Thursday, October 25, 2007

Upcoming Opportunities, or Chances to Be Denied

Continuing to indulge my recent penchant for lists, below is a giant collection of the various competitions, festivals, fellowships, scholarships, and awards for which I have applied or plan to apply in the upcoming months. Updates on their respective outcomes will be forthcoming:

* American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice Session: Designed to give budding opera composers a chance to work collaboratively with lyricists and workshop their pieces, this is one of a very few similar programs available today.
Update: I didn't get in. Maybe next time!

* ASCAP/Lotte Lehman Art Song Competition: Offered every two years, this is a perfect opportunity for composers such as myself who gravitate toward intimate, non-orchestral works. My submission was the first draft of in memoriam Hibakusha (see the previous post below), which I believe is a strong work, but perhaps not best-suited to this competition. In any case, I certainly plan to submit to this competition in years to come.
Results are forthcoming, but they don't say when.

* Jacob K. Javits Fellowship: Administered by the U.S. Government, this award for full tuition plus a healthy stiped is limited to financing students seeking their terminal degree (DMA in my case) in the arts and humanities only. Fortunately, these limitation narrow the pool of eligible candidates greatly; unfortunately, this means that every student who qualifies and is even remotely qualified will apply. Therefore, this one is extremely competitive.
The application process was quite involved, and it left me rather drained in terms of energy and leverage for future favors by professors. Still, I now have a good five-minute demo CD and a chance at a great funding opportunity.

* Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship: Offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this one-year award for up to $22,000 is competitive and substantial. I am preparing my application now, as long as I can convince my professors to write yet another letter of recommendation. Let's hope!

* Father Gilbert V. Hartke Declamation Contest (CUA): I took third place - a $200 prize! - at the second annual occurrence of this speech-oration event in 2007, largely on the merit of my selection of great pieces by Mark Twain and Edith Sitwell. I am anxiously awaiting the announcement of this year's competition!
Okay, I realize that is only of interest to the CUA community and those who know me... but that's my only audience right now! (Actually, I am my only audience so far... hmmm...)

* Aspen Music Festival - Composition Sessions: Led by Christopher Rouse, Sydney Hodkinson, and George Tsontakis, the workshop and private instruction sessions offered by Aspen can be a great career-building opportunity for aspiring composers of classical works, both in terms of the practical experiences and the industry networking offered. Since it is my first application for a summer festival, I am both hopeful and realistic in my expectations.

* ASCAP/SCI Student Commissions: This is the big one. ASCAP offers three student commissions through this competition, each involving the creation of a new piece, its premiere (and recording?), and a modest monetary prize. This is the sort of competition that goes at the top of one's CV and marks, in some ways, a budding composer's entry into the professional world.
Therefore, again, everyone applies for this one. It even has huge, glossy posters sent out to every composition department and school in the country promoting the event. The good news: they're sure to field a good number of mediocre pieces. The bad news: they will also attract many of the "best" (whatever that means) works current students have to offer. Chances for success? - rather slim. Yet it's almost like a rite of passage for a maturing student composer. Well, here goes!

* Yale Glee Club Composition Competition: Since I was in choir for roughly fourteen consecutive years before entering my masters degree, one would think that I would have a large body of choral works under my belt. In fact, I have only written one choral piece so far, and that was a brief setting of Pslam 133 for a one-time performance in a small congregation in Minnesota. I hope to dive into the world of choral writing in the near future, as I may just discover a Kyle-shaped niche in that field.

* University of Nebraska at Kearney New Music Festival Call for Scores: Not as major as the BMI or ASCAP awards, and therefore less competitive, this (and other similar competitions about which I am not yet aware) would be a great mid-level entry point for my career. I hope to submit a piece if it gets recorded in time!

* BMI Student Composer Awards: This is the other big one. BMI stipulates that composers must be under 26 years old to enter this one, which means I am at a large disadvantage, having only gotten serious as regards my composition career in the past year or so. This year will be my first of two applying for this award. It's a bit like playing the lottery, but with only slightly better odds, much more work required upfront, and a much more substantial payoff if successful.

* American Music Center Composer Assistance Program: This program offers relatively small grants to support the premiere and recording of new works. I hope to use this award to fund a high-quality recording of in memoriam Hibakusha, as well as other future works for chamber ensembles. Small grants such as this can serve as a perfect intermediate step to securing future awards, performances, and other opportunities. I don't know how I didn't hear about this until this month!

* Morton Gould Young Composer Awards: Okay, I lied. This is really the big one. The ASCAP version of the national BMI competition, this competition awards over $30,000 in prize money to winning composers of concert music under 30 years old. This means I have six years left to apply for this one. Hooray!
I am so used to hearing "concert music" set up in distinction from "stage music" (my formal masters degree emphasis) that this seems almost uninviting. Oh well - that won't keep me from applying! Yet I wonder whether my lack of large-ensemble and orchestral work will put me at a disadvantage to this sort of national competition. Many previous entrants have won with pieces for full orchestra. Is that the judges' biases, or are more skilled composers naturally drawn to these larger ensembles?

* Turner Classic Movies Composition Competition: A chance to try out my new computer (sort of), new audio editing software (sort of), and new interest in composing for film (sort of), this contest would be a great opportunity to exactly copy the pursuits of the excellent composers of the Snark Ensemble of DC. They recently completed an enormous, six-month silent film composing project, and I would have to agree that entering this contest makes me a wannabe-film composer... and so be it!

* Tapestry New Opera Workshop: Similar to the AOP C&V program, but lasting two weeks rather than spread out over nine months, Tapestry is one of the hottest opportunities for young opera composers. Am I one of them (an opera composer)? Not yet, but I hope to be soon... starting with my participation in this workshop in the summer of 2008!


  1. Oh no both ASCAP and BMI, you cannot win them both or you would be in trouble.

  2. Wow, and I have trouble finding one competition I feel up to submitting to. Go go gadget overachiever! It's great, though, you've got the fervor one needs to succeed. Overachieving is like the base requirement.

    And I think the chances are slim enough of winning both ASCAP and BMI that if you did it there would be so much buzz about it that it wouldn't matter ;)