Call for Scores: The Chelsea Symphony Composition Competition 2019-20

The application period for the 2019-20 Composition Competition is now closed. The winner will be announced in April. Questions about this season's submissions may be directed to Thank you for your interest in The Chelsea Symphony!


The Chelsea Symphony invites submissions for its sixth annual competition for early-career composers. The winning entry will be performed on the orchestra's concerts on May 15 and 16, 2020, at St. Paul's Church in New York, NY. The winning composer will also receive a professional recording of the performances and an honorarium of $250. The winning selection will be chosen by acclaimed conductor and composer Gerard Schwarz, Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony and Music Director of the Palm Beach Symphony, in conjunction with a panel of musicians from The Chelsea Symphony. 

Submission deadline: Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 11:59pm EST


Applicants must reside in the United States, or be enrolled in a degree-earning college, conservatory, or university program in the U.S. There are no age restrictions, but applicants should be in the early stages of their compositional careers. If a performance by The Chelsea Symphony would represent a significant professional development opportunity for you, then please apply!

Application Instructions

  1. Review all eligibility, submission guidelines, and requirements on this site
  2. Submit your online application
  3. Email a PDF and MP3 (if including) to

The application form and all materials are due by 11:59pm EST on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

Submission Guidelines

  • Instrumentation: works should not exceed the following maximum instrumentation: 2 flutes (1 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (1 doubling English horn), 2 clarinets (1 doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani + 2 percussionists, piano, strings. Electronics are permissible. Works that are scored for marginally larger forces (e.g., includes harp) will be considered, but will need to be rescored if selected for performance.
  • Percussion: space for the percussion section is limited, so large section requirements (e.g., more than 4 timpani, or multiple mallet instruments) are discouraged. The selection committee will take the feasibility of percussion needs into account when evaluating submissions.
  • Duration: works must be between 5-12 minutes in length. 
  • Performance history: works that have been published, commercially recorded, or previously performed by a professional orchestra are ineligible. Prior performances by amateur or student ensembles are permissible; please indicate any relevant performance history in your application.
  • Copyrighted materials: works that include text must be accompanied by evidence that the text is either in the public domain, or if still protected, used with permission of the author or author’s representative.
  • Anonymous review: submissions will be judged anonymously. Scores may not have the composer’s name or any other identifying information. Any scores that identify the composer will be ineligible for consideration.
  • Score format: scores must be in PDF format. Handwritten scores will be accepted, but are not preferred.
  • Recordings: A recording of the work (or an electronic simulation thereof) may be submitted. Submissions with an electronics component should be accompanied by a recording of the complete work, if at all possible. Recordings must be in MP3 format and should not contain any identifying information other than the title of the piece.

Notification + Requirements

The results of the competition will be announced by mid-April 2020. The winning composer will be required to submit their headshot and a short bio by April 17, 2020. Program notes and a complete set of performing materials to The Chelsea Symphony by April 24, 2020. The composer will be invited and encouraged to attend rehearsals of the work, which will take place May 11-15, 2020, and the performances on May 15-16, 2020, in New York City. Transportation/lodging and all expenses are the responsibility of the composer.


For questions about The Chelsea Symphony's 2019-20 Composition Competition, please contact us at

Past Winners

Finalists and Honorable Mentions listed in alphabetical order


Winning entry:
In Between, Aaron Israel Levin

Augustine's Ascent, Nathan Ball
Sketch Book, Aaron Spotts

Honorable Mentions:
Pugaw, Avner Finberg
On-again, Off-again, Jack Frerer
Pray Away, Ryan Lindveit


Winning entry:
The Rest is Silence, Samuel R. Beebe

The Legend of Mulan, Esther Shuyue Cao
Listening Through an Open Door, Nicholas V. Hall


Winning entry:
Summer Mountains, Danny Gray

Aeolian Dust, Natalie Dietterich


Winning entry:
Dawn, Paul Frucht

Awake, Alan Hankers
Soundscape for a Century Past, Jared Miller


Winning entry:
Tightrope Walker, Michael Boyman

Arion, William Gardiner
Symphony in 3 Movements, Michael Gilbertson
Unhinged Carnival Fanfare Machine, Jonathan Russell