The Chelsea Symphony Composition Competition 2017-2018

The application period is closed.


The results of the 2017-18 competition will be announced in March. The winning composer will be required to submit a complete set of performing materials to The Chelsea Symphony in April. The composer will be invited and encouraged to attend rehearsals of the work, which will take place between May 29-June 1, and the performances of the work on June 2-3. Transportation and lodging are the responsibility of the composer.

Past Winners


Winning entry:
Summer Mountains, Danny Gray

Aeolian Dust, Natalie Dietterich


Winning entry:
Dawn, Paul Frucht

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Awake, Alan Hankers
Soundscape for a Century Past, Jared Miller


Winning entry:
Tightrope Walker, Michael Boyman

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Arion, William Gardiner
Symphony in 3 Movements, Michael Gilbertson
Unhinged Carnival Fanfare Machine, Jonathan Russell

About the Competition

The Chelsea Symphony holds an annual composition competition for early-career composers in the greater New York City area. Applications are accepted in the fall and the winning entry will be performed on the orchestra’s concerts the following spring. 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 All-Star Orchestra, in conjunction with a panel of musicians from The Chelsea Symphony.


Applicants must reside in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, or be enrolled in a degree-earning college, conservatory, or university program in one of those three states. 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!

Submission guidelines

  • 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 (1 doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani + 2 percussionists, piano, strings. Electronics are permissible.
  • 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.
  • Works must be between 5-12 minutes in length.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scores must be in PDF format. Handwritten scores will be accepted, but are not preferred.
  • 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.