Call for Scores for Emerging Composers

Deadline: All submissions are to be received by September 22, 2015.

Instrumentation: Unaccompanied viola. May include electronics.

Eligibility: Composers 40 years of age and older who consider themselves to be emerging in their careers. Examples of emerging composers may include, but are not limited to: composers who have changed careers, those who have had a career in music that is not focused on composing, composers who have had a long hiatus in their careers, those who do not make a living primarily from music composition, composers whose music has not been performed by prominent ensembles, or those who have become a musician later in life.

Fee: No fee to apply.

Reward: At the least, a recording of your piece. See below for more info.

Application Materials:

  1. Application
  2. Score (PDF preferred; hardcopy acceptable*)
  3. Recording (Optional. Link to MP3 or video preferred. MIDI is acceptable. A CD is acceptable* only if it can be played in a CD player.)

*Scores and recordings submitted via postal mail will not be returned due to the cost of postage. Please do not send originals.

Submission process: Complete this form in order to submit your piece. The link to your score and recording will also be included in the application. Digital submissions are strongly preferred. If you wish to submit pieces by mail, please contact me for my mailing address at sakari_dixon{at}hotmail{dotcom}. (Submissions via email will be disqualified.) I will notify composers of the selected pieces personally, and they will be announced on this website at .  Composers will be notified by October 31, 2015. Please do not contact me to inquire about the submission of your piece. I will contact only those whose pieces are selected.

About this call:

After reading Bill Doerrfeld’s article, “Ageism in Composer Opportunities” on New Music Box, I was inspired to create this call for scores. My own identity as both a composer and performer has given me a passion for collaborating with other musicians and promoting those who inspire me.

Although I do not have the resources to provide a monetary award, I recognize that a lack of decent recordings can be quite a barrier to furthering one’s composition career. Many composition opportunities require recordings to be submitted with scores, and several of those do not allow computer-generated renditions. Therefore, my basic goals are to select several pieces, study them, and record them for each composer’s use. I do not own high-end recording equipment, but at the least, I can record on a portable recorder with a quality sound. My long-term goal is that these pieces would become a part of my repertoire so that I can continue to support the selected composers by performing their music and increasing the audience for their work.



24 thoughts on “Call for Scores for Emerging Composers

  1. I might add: there is no requirement for your piece to be never-premiered or brand-new. Repeat performances are just as important as premiers, if not more so! Also, there is no restriction on when you wrote the piece, even if it was before you turned 40.

    Thanks everyone!


  2. A broader instrumentation and genre tolerance would have been perhaps more welcomed as I suspect many late blooming composers write for more players than viola players. Hence, this restriction puts a limit on those who write for a broader instrumentation group. In addition, the inclusion of electronics suggest a bent towards more modern music, which, again, restricts the entrants to an even smaller cadre of new composers as many write in a more traditional fashion. Nonetheless, the idea of a late bloomer competition is wonderful.


    1. Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your response. The only reason why I created a call for scores for viola is for logistics — I knew that I could study and perform the pieces myself. Since I graduated last year, I currently have a day job and am unable to pursue music full-time (like most musicians, I assume). Therefore, I wanted to make sure the goals I set and published would be within the reach of my current time constraints. One of my personal goals is to begin a chamber ensemble, but since that hasn’t happened yet, I didn’t want to make a proposal that I couldn’t follow through with. In fact, the trio that I would like to begin would consist of an instrumentation that would be more of a constraint than requesting pieces for solo viola, and a call for scores for that group would most likely force entrants to have to write brand-new compositions. In that case, I would provide much more time to submit than three weeks before the deadline.

      I am open to performing pieces with or without electronics. When I published this call for scores, I debated whether or not I would accept such pieces because my experience in performing with electronics is extremely limited. However, I decided to broaden the opportunity by including them instead. I would like to learn how to perform with electronics, both live and fixed media, so I preferred to look at the pieces on a case-by-case basis in order to see if I had the resources to do so.

      As this call for scores is a little bit of an experiment on my own part, I would love to continue to find ways to support the work of composers of all ages in the long run. 🙂

      Thanks again for your response, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

      Sakari Dixon


    1. Ditto here. I am in graduate school at 61 years old. Unfortunately I don’t have anything ready for solo viola, but knowing about this call encourages me to keep writing. I look forward to future call for scores like this!


      1. Glad to hear you are pursuing your goals Mary. 🙂 I look forward to more opportunities like this well, particularly from performers who are passionate about new music.


  3. Hi! I’m 54, took my first steps as a composer only 12 years ago, and have never had a piece professionally performed, recorded or published, although I have had several choral works performed. I don’t have anything prepared, and am not a string player, but hope to have a little something written for the deadline. Are multiple stops OK? Thanks.


    1. Hi maarvarq,

      Multiple stops are okay, provided they are idiomatic to the viola. I recommend that you research fingering charts either online or in orchestration books, however, since the possibilities are fairly limited.

      Tim Davies wrote a great post Double [stop] Trouble on his orchestration blog, DeBreved. Although he is referring to orchestral writing and not solo writing, where string players would behave quite differently, there are some great points that he makes about the practicality of writing multiple stops. I advise that you read the comments on his post as well, since they also offer quite a bit of enlightenment.

      Your best bet: find a string player who can read through a draft of your music for you. Another violist or a violinist who is proficient in viola should be of great help. Even if it isn’t at their level, or they can’t play it right away, many string players can spot unreasonable double stops just by glancing at the score.

      Hope this helps! 🙂



      1. Hi Sakari,

        I saw that article after I posted here, and my reading is that double stops aren’t all that effective, particularly in lyrical music, so I might just stick to arpeggios. I’ve just emailed a violinist friend for advise, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a test run.



  4. Hi Sakari,

    I too am bummed about being excluded from so many opportunities due to my age. However, limiting this to composers over 40 is still ageism, maybe reverse-ageism. What we need is a way to measure composer years, and if there are going to be restrictions, they should be based on that. For example, I began composing at age 22 for about 5 years. Then I stopped and got back into it at age 47. So another 1.5 years gives me 6.5 years in composer age. Maybe contest organizers could consider composer age as a restriction, and there could be some simple verification process.

    I love viola, but I do not have anything prepared for solo viola. Best wishes getting your chamber ensemble started! I hope to hear more about what you do with this call for scores.

    Take care,


    1. Hi Scott , thank you for your response. Another guy had emailed me with the same concern as well — I hope you don’t mind me copying and pasting my reply here, since I am glad that you brought this concern to the comments thread:

      “Although this call for scores may make it seem like I am biased to older composers on the surface, I am no less supportive of younger composers than older ones. I wouldn’t suggest that the answer to the ageism problem is for more performers or ensembles to reverse the age threshold either, as I have done. Rather, I would like to see the majority of opportunities out there be open to composers of all ages. As an interesting fact: being a composer myself, even I am not eligible for my own Call for Scores (if one would consider that ethical at all). I am only 23, and I definitely have a piece for unaccompanied viola in my catalog.

      I did consider not including an age limit, but I felt that the point made would have less of an impact. I am fairly certain that if I had no age limit at all, I would have received at least 80% of the submissions from composers under 40 simply because of the medium this Call is presented in. Please forgive my stereotyping here, but my guess is that younger generations are more likely to catch wind of any opportunity publicized solely on internet, especially one that was released only a few weeks prior to the deadline, such as this one. On top of that, I suppose younger people are more likely to have their scores in a digital form, ready to send at a moment’s notice. It is a factor that the article I referenced did not mention, but I have definitely considered.”

      I find your idea of composer-age rather interesting. The difficulty I see with that, though, would be what one might have done in the same amount of years. For example. One person with a composer-age of 6 might have gotten both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at a prestigious university, studied with a well-known composer, and won a prize or two. The next person, even at the same “age” might have only written a few pieces at home for family and friends. Neither of their ages would take into account the musical background they may have had before they began composing.

      Some opportunities try to request music from composers who are currently in high school, or college, etc, but I doubt that helps much with ageism. Even if an older person were currently an undergrad in music, for example, those same opportunities tend to slap an age limit on to reinforce the issue.

      I hope you don’t mind such a long-winded response! 🙂 I would like to see the conversation continue, even after this Call for Scores. Perhaps organizations and performing ensembles will some day look for music solely on quality and not arbitrary factors like age or schooling.

      Have a wonderful day!



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