composers competition

The 2014 Composers’ Competition is now CLOSED – Thank you to all who entered!  


The League of Composers/ISCM-US Section Composers’ Competition is open to all composers with United States citizenship or legal residence.  The winner will receive a $500 cash prize and possible performance in New York City. Up to five additional finalists may also be selected.

There are no stylistic limitations. Works must have been written within the last 10 years (after May 15, 2004), be between 5 and 20 minutes in length, although closer to 10 minutes is encouraged, to increase the likelihood that the piece will be programmed on a League/ISCM concert. Submitted works may be for solo instrument, small ensemble, or any combination up to a chamber orchestra, voice, multiple vocalists, chorus, opera and additional media, and/or electronic components.  While we will consider works with any instrumentation, please note that we cannot promise performances of works for forces larger than chamber orchestra, 4 or 5 vocalists or equivalent chorus.

The submission deadline for the 2014 World Music Days Festival passed in fall 2012.  There is currently no call for scores for the 2015 World Music Days, but when the call for scores is available, we will include applicable works from this competition in the US Section’s submission of six works to that Festival.

Any compositions using texts must show proof of all necessary copyright permissions.

We can accept up to three pieces per composer. Each piece requires its own upload and PayPal fee of $21.00.

Our submission process is entirely electronic; if the work you wish to submit cannot be submitted in this way, please contact Lisa Freeman for assistance at

The entry page will require you to upload the following to our website:

  • Your bio and CV, including any contact information, in PDF form only! File names must not contain special characters (-”, / etc.)
  • One copy of the full score of the work, in pdf form. Submissions are judged anonymously. You must remove your name everywhere from the score, including in the copyright notice. There is no need for a pseudonym. We apply our own index number. Works that display composer’s name will not be considered. 
  • One recording or midi realization of the work, also with your name omitted. This must be in mp3 form. There is a size limit of 10 MB. If you need to compile movements into a single file, there is a free program called AUDACITY
  • A completed PayPal transaction for $21.

Selection Process

The judges will meet and adjudicate during the summer and endeavor to complete the process soon thereafter.  If they choose more than one winner, the $500 prize will be split between the winners. Subsequent possible performances of the winning works will be arranged over the course of the following year, probably for a concert season later than 2015. If the League is able to arrange a performance, the composer of the winning work must supply a conductor’s score and parts at his or her cost.

Questions should be addressed to

2013 Winners

Eun Young Lees “a quiet way” (2006) for Soprano, +fl/alto, cl/bs cl, perc, pno, vln, vc  (LISTEN) (SCORE)

Bryan Christian’s “Chain Shift” (2012) for Soprano, cb.fl/piccolo, tenor sax, perc, vln, electronics  (LISTEN) (SCORE)

With an Honorable Mention to:

Gity Razaz’s  La Extraña Carretera, (2010) for eight violoncelli  Watch on Vimeo

2012 Winner  — Highlights from our 2012 Competition - CLICK HERE!

Travis AlfordSelf, Analyzed (2010) for flute, bass clarinet, percussion, guitar, toy piano

Honorable Mention

Mei-Fang LinL’Image Reconstituee (2005) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano

2011 Winners

Eric NathanWalls of Light (2009) for fl, cl/bs cl, perc, pno, vln, vc by   (LISTEN)  (SCORE)

Sam NicholsRefuge (2009) for string quartet, by .   (LISTEN) (SCORE)

The runner up is:

William RoweThe House on the Street (2010) for mixed chorus, (LISTEN) (SCORE)

2010 Winners

Luke Dahn, Penumbrae (2008) (for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano) (listen) (score) learn more about Luke at:

Jordan Kuspa, Piano Trio (2009)(for piano, violin & cello) (listen) (score) learn more about Jordan at:

2009 Winners

Mark Berger, String Trio #2 (listen)
D.J. Sparr, DACCA: DECCA: GaFfA (listen)

2008 Winners

Chris Dietz, Gharra : Performed on the June 10, 2009 concert at Miller Theatre (listen)

concert-0481The music of Christopher Dietz has been recognized by honors and awards from the Banff Centre, Copland House, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions and Composer Institute, and several other organizations.  In the fall of 2009 he will be in residence at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.  He holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from the University of Michigan as well as degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Wisconsin.  He is currently a visiting assistant professor at the Oberlin Conservatory.

The term “Gharra,” as it is used here, refers to a type of sudden and violent rainstorm that occurs in the deserts of North Africa.  The music is not a literal, programmatic depiction, but rather uses the image of a passing storm as a general dramatic model.  The long arc of the work is articulated by a series of extended solos in the winds, while the strings, piano and percussion provide accompaniment and commentary.  Gharra was commissioned by the Utah Arts Festival Orchestra in 2007.

2007 Winners

John Aylward, Dragonfly: Performed on the February 7, 2009 concert at Tenri Cultural Institute

Composer and pianist John Aylward is currently and Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Clark University in Massachusetts.  Aylward’s work as an active pianist grounds his music in the experiential, focusing on rigorous technique and experimental formal, textural and harmonic concepts.  His work with electronic media captures the youthful energy of our contemporary culture as it intersects with more technologically based modes of artistic expression.  Aylward’s music has been performed within the U.S and abroad by numerous ensembles including the New York New Music Ensemble, The Lydian String Quartet, Third Angle, The Bard Symphony Orchestra, Juventas, The Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and others.  His work has also been championed by internationally touring soloists Steven Gosling, Elizabeth Keusch, Karina Sabac , Daria Binkowski and Alex Lipowski.  Aylward has received grants and awards for his compositions from numerous national institutions including The MacDowell Colony, The Wellesley Composer Conference, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, The Society of Composers, ISCM, and more.  Before his post at Clark University, Aylward taught at Tufts University and at Brandeis University.

Dragonfly was written in 2003, while I was studying with David Rakowski at Brandeis University.  Davy provided great guidance during my work and so I dedicated the piece to him as well as to a close relative of mine, Paul Aylward.  The work begins with a dramatic cello cadenza followed by a floating response in the piano that sets a new tone.  When the cello enters again, the two converse until they find a new way to achieve the floating textures in the piano, this time mimicked in the cello.

Laurie St. Martin Concerto for Four for oboe, flute, cello and piano (2004) performed by the Chamber Players at Tenri Cultural Institute on February 7, 2009.

Concerto for Four was written for the Left Coast Ensemble; it is intended to complement J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering. Using an  instrumentation roughly similar to a Baroque trio sonata (flute, oboe, cello and piano), this two-movement work refers to the Musical Offering with a brief quotation and in its use of extensive ornamentation, typical of Bach’s style. In contrast with the Musical Offering, the character of Concerto for Four is energetic and light-hearted. I tried to envision a piece that had energy and humor but which still hinted at the Baroque style. I was also inspired by the music of Eric Moe and Kurt Rohde. Concerto for Four is dedicated to my husband Samuel Nichols.

2006 Winners

Matthew Fields, Fireheart : Performed on the February 7, 2009 concert at Tenri Cultural Institute

Matthew H. Fields was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Deerfield, Illinois before earning degrees in music composition, mathematics, and computer science at Oberlin, Stanford, and University of Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. By day he programs computers for a hospital; by night he writes solos, chamber music, symphonies, and choral music; and he catches up on rest and life on the weekends.

Passion brings us together to celebrate the joy of being together; the impermanence of life adds urgency to our loves. Here we get a music of interpenetrating melodies rising and falling like breaths and pulses and racing hearts, unrelentingly driving towards climactic ecstasy, a musical reflection on our most urgent passions. “This piece also serves as a complete concerto in 8 minutes for 6 virtuosos.