Compose Yourself 2014 Guidelines

Posted by October 9, 2013

NEW Compose Yourself logo 4c

SFCMP Young Composer Competition - Official Guidelines

Compose Yourself is a brand new competition for school-age composers with a special twist. In this competition, all works will first be reviewed by a professional jury of established composers, and the works of six finalists will be voted on online by high school students!  The contest is open to all high school-age composers and voters, regardless of where you live — a truly global voice of young composers and their teen audiences! Click here to apply!


Who May Enter: Any individual at the pre-college/university level currently enrolled in a public or private high school or in a high school-level homeschool program is invited to apply (In the US, this generally encompasses ages 14-18). All nationalities are welcome. Compositions must be by a single composer; works by composer collectives are not permitted.

Awards: Six finalists will be chosen by the jury; of these, the first-, second- and third-place winners will be determined by an online, public vote. All six finalists will receive a recorded CD of their work.

First Place is a cash award** of $1,000 (USD) and a professionally executed composer video profile.
Second Place is a $750 (USD) cash award.
Third Place is $500 (USD) cash award.

All Awards will be presented at the Awards Ceremony/Concert on April, 27, 2014 in San Francisco. We are very sorry that due to changes in the program and the overwhelming response from out of town and abroad, we can only provide travel accommodation for the top -three awardees and up to two additional family members will be provided.

How to Enter: All entries must be submitted electronically using the online form provided by the contest and must be received by midnight Pacific Standard Time, January 22, 2014. A complete submission must contain: 1) application information 2) composer statement (see below) and  3) score in .pdf format.

Instrumentation: The entry must be an original composition for instrumentation of your choice or chorus for 3-10 musicians or voices. Choral works may be written for SSAATTBB*. A notated score is required for all compositions. Finalists will be required to supply high quality, engraved parts.

Composition Length: 5-8 minutes

Personal Statement: Each entry must be accompanied by a personal statement (maximum 500 words) that addresses at least TWO of the following:

  • - The composer’s past music experience
  • - How the composer got inspired and interested in music composition
  • - What the composer hopes to achieve in the future as a composer – how s/he hopes to inspire or engage other young listeners

Parental Approval: The submission form requires parental approval for students less than 18 years of age.

Rights: All score manuscripts and recordings remain the property of the composers who are encouraged to copyright them before submission. By submitting an entry to Compose Yourself, finalists (or their parent/guardian if under age 18) will be required to sign an Acceptance Form stating agreement to waive performance rights of the work to SFCMP San Francisco Contemporary Music Players for the purposes of a one-time recording of the work, for online presentation of the recording (for voting and educational purposes), for performance of the work at the Young Composers Awards Ceremony, and for the limited purpose of using a (30 to 60 second) segment of the winning entry to promote future Compose Yourself competitions. This recording is explicitly for educational and not for commercial purposes.

Number of entries: One submission per composer.

Criteria for Judging Works: While there are no requirements concerning musical genre, the jury will be particularly focused on the work’s ability to engage and inspire the listener. The jury will evaluate works based on creativity as well as technical skill (harmony, melody, orchestration, and form).

Selection Process: All submissions will receive electronic acknowledgment of receipt by SFCMP. A Jury comprised of professional composers and a high school student panel will select six finalists. The six finalist works will be recorded by SFCMP musicians. These recordings will be available online for public, web-based voting that will determine the First-, Second-, and Third-place winners.

Finalists: The six finalists will be selected by the Jury on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Finalists will be contacted and the finalist list announced on Monday, February 3, 2014. All six finalist works will be recorded by the SFCMP musicians during early February, 2014 and will be online for popular vote starting Monday, February 24, 2014 through midnight PST on Monday, March 10, 2014.

Popular Vote: Voting is open to any high school student or individual who registers on the site. Repeat voting is not allowed. All individuals participating in the vote will be required to provide a valid email address for the purpose of verifying unique-voter status. No email addresses will be retained for any marketing purposes and at the close of the voting period, all email address records will be securely destroyed. Voting closes at Midnight, Pacific Standard Time on March 10, 2014.

Awards Announcement: The six finalists will be notified of the popular voting results by March 15, 2014.

Awards Event: The three top finalists will be invited to the awards ceremony and concert on April 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Finalists who do not live in the San Francisco Bay Area will receive airfare and hotel accommodation for themselves and up to two family members for two (or three, if coming from abroad) nights in the San Francisco Bay Area with a departure of April 27.

Compose Yourself is an educational and outreach project of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, a 501 (c) 3 organization located in San Francisco, California. 


*For vocal compositions setting text, contestant must provide evidence that the text is either in the public domain or was used with written permission from the author or the author’s estate. The same requirements apply to translations

**Federal US Law requires that any gift received over the amount of $600 must require the recipient provide a US Tax 1099 form. Any winning composer under the age of 18 on April 27, 2014 must have the form filled out by his/her parent or legal guardian, who will be responsible for any US tax obligation.


Click here to apply!

Questions? Email us.