Composer Institute


Call for scores: 2021 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute

Details on how to apply for the May 2021 Composer Institute »

The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, co-presented by the Minnesota Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra, offers a unique week-long intensive immersion into the world of a major American symphony orchestra, culminating in a concert performance and live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. Under the guidance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Institute Director Kevin Puts, up to seven composers will have orchestral works rehearsed and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and will participate in a series of seminars on musical, career, and professional development topics in collaboration with American Composers Orchestra. All works selected for the Institute will be performed in a public concert conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Composers selected for the Composer Institute will receive consultations with Kevin Puts and Music Director Osmo Vänskä throughout the week, and will also meet with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and attend small-group sessions with leading music industry professionals. Composers’ domestic travel and hotel will be provided.

Entries for the May 2021 Minnesota Orchestra must be submitted electronically via this application form by 11:59 p.m. Central on September 14, 2020. Complete submission instructions, eligibility requirements, selection criteria and additional information are available in the application form. Entries submitted by means other than the application form will not be eligible for consideration.

Learn about the history of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute

2019-20 Composer Institute: January 6-10, 2020

The 17th annual Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute was held January 6 to 10, 2020, culminating in a public MusicMakers concert on January 10, 2020, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä. Click here to view the 2020 Composer Institute booklet of program notes, composer biographies and other information about the 2020 Composer Institute and MusicMakers concert.

Hillsborough, North Carolina
Songs from Brooches for Two Sopranos and Orchestra
Danbury, Connecticut
Acadian Vista
Mount Vernon, Washington
Barcelona, Spain
Nocturne for Violin, Piano obbligato, String Orchestra and Harp
Los Angeles, California
Rest and Restless
Chicago, Illinois
Ticking Time Bomb
Seoul, South Korea
Bird Up

Composer biographies and program notes.

Click here to read the press release announcing the January 2020 Composer Institute participants.

More about the Composer Institute

The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is unique in the nation in its combination of orchestral rehearsals, public performance and numerous targeted workshops, with music industry leaders speaking on musical, career, business and professional development issues. The Institute nurtures the participants’ musical acumen and broadens their career management skills, assisting in their growth as artists and community leaders. Seminar topics include many not offered elsewhere, including advanced instrumental and orchestral writing, copyrights, commissioning, licensing, publishing, promotion, music preparation, public speaking, working with conductors and union orchestras, community residencies, CD and media production, and working in educational settings, among others.

“The week at the Composer Institute was one of the best weeks in my life,” says Ming-Hsiu Yen, a 2008 Institute participant. “The first-rate music education system in the United States is what brought me here from Taiwan, and the conservatory training that I received has been invaluable in making me a better musician. There has been nothing, however, that could compare to what I learned in a week at the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.”

The Composer Institute is an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s “Perfect Pitch” program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers launched during the 1995-96 season in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. Perfect Pitch was reformulated in 2001 as the Composer Institute, as the program’s focus broadened and national participation was invited. In 2020, the American Composers Orchestra became the new co-presenter of the Composer Institute.

About the Composer Institute's leaders and seminar faculty

In June 2014 the Orchestra announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts has been appointed director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. The Composer Institute was founded in 2002 by the Orchestra and composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who directed the program for its first 11 seasons. Music Director Osmo Vänskä oversaw the program’s expansion in 2006 to include a public performance of works by Composer Institute participants, now called "MusicMakers," which he conducts annually. The Institute’s past seminar faculty have included such industry leaders as American Composers Forum president and CEO John Nuechterlein; Ed Harsh, president of New Music USA; composer and music engraving expert William Holab of Bill Holab Music; attorney James M. Kendrick; composer advocate Frank J. Oteri of New Music USA; composers Stephen Paulus, Alex Shapiro and Steven Stucky; and numerous musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra.

The January 2020 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute was very generously sponsored by The Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Hella Mears Hueg and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

We gratefully acknowledge the American Composers Orchestra as our partner in presenting the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.