50 Years of Women SingAs part of our Youth Inspiring Youth—Commissioning Emerging Composers project, WomenSing is pleased to announce its 2015-2016 choral composition competition. In special recognition of WomenSing’s 50th Anniversary Season, “Giving Voice to Women,” this edition of the competition will be open exclusively to young women composers. Female composers, ages 18 through 30, who are residents of California and have not previously won this competition, are eligible to submit samples of their works for consideration. Up to two winning composers will each create a new work based on River of Words poetry.

Submission Deadline: May 1, 2015

Program Description

YIY 2012 Concert
2012 YIY composer Anastasia Pahos accepts congratulations from Martín Benvenuto after the premiere of her piece “Isle of the Bless’d.”

WomenSing and River of Words, Center for Environmental Literacy at St Mary’s College of California), in special recognition of WomenSing’s 50th anniversary season, are offering young female composers the opportunity to create new choral music, mentored by teaching artist Alice Parker. Up to two winners will be commissioned to write a treble choral work based on the highly inspired children’s poetry from the River of Words project, which will be premiered by WomenSing on June 5 and June 8, 2016. Works will be part of a season-long celebration of WomenSing’s 50th, and should reflect our theme, “Giving voice to women for 50 years.” Each commissioned composer will receive a commissioning fee of US $1,000 and a recording of the work. Mentoring will include public composer’s workshops in conjunction with WomenSing’s Treble Voices Now new music festival on April 15 and 16, 2016, six weeks prior to the premiere.

Founded in 1995 by former US Poet Laureate and 2008 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Robert Hass, and writer Pamela Michael, River of Words has energetically enlisted youth from around the world to compete annually in both art and poetry on the subject of the environment.

Competition Details

  1. The competition is open to female California residents who have reached their 18th birthday but have not yet reached their 30th birthday by the submission deadline of May 1, 2015, and who have not previously won this competition.
  2. Submissions must be an original work for accompanied or unaccompanied chorus (not necessarily treble), must have been composed within the last three years, and should be between three and five minutes in length.
  3. All submissions must be anonymous. The composer’s name must not appear on the score. Please remove all names and identifying marks.
  4. Judges for the competition will be Alice Parker, teaching artist; Cristian Grases, advising composer; Charles Bruffy, conductor of the Kansas City Chorale and Phoenix Chorale, and advisor to WomenSing; and Martín Benvenuto, artistic director for WomenSing. The decisions of the judges are final, and up to two winners will be notified by May 29, 2015. WomenSing reserves the right not to award a prize.


  • Each composer will choose texts from the River of Words Collection no later than August 3, 2015.
  • Each composer will deliver a draft for review to the commissioner/s and teaching artist by November 2, 2015.
  • The final approved score and parts, ready for reproduction, will be due no later than January 8, 2016.
  • Workshops with all performers led by Alice Parker will be held on Friday April 15, and Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Orinda, CA, as part of Treble Voices Now, WomenSing’s new music festival.
  • The commissioned works will be premiered by WomenSing on June 5 and June 8, 2016.
  • Deadlines are strictly adhered to due to WomenSing’s performance schedule.

To enter

Please complete the YIY-CEC Cover Sheet, a brief 1-2 paragraph bio, and submit it along with five (5) clearly legible copies of the work. A sealed envelope labeled with the title of the work must accompany each submission. The sealed envelope must contain the attached completed YIY-CEC Call for Composers Cover Sheet, the 5 copies of the choral work, and the brief bio.

Please send submissions to:

WomenSing Youth Inspiring Youth Composition Contest
P.O. Box 2014
Orinda, CA 94563

Scores and applications must be postmarked by May 1, 2015.

For further questions please contact Teresa Caldwell, Youth Inspiring Youth—Commissioning Emerging Composers at [email protected].