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CUSO Overture Composition Competition

Deadline for submissions: January 1, 2018

In partnership with Music Alive to promote the creation and performance of new music, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra announces a composition competition to be held during the 2017-18 season. CUSO, Music Director and Conductor Stephen Alltop, and Music Alive composer-in-residence Stacy Garrop invite composers of all ages to write a three-minute work to be performed by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra at a subscription concert in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts during the 2018-2019 season.

Process and Guidelines (PDF)
Entry Form (PDF)


The competition is open to composers of all ages who are residents of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, or live within the region that spans a 200-mile radius of Champaign, Illinois.

Selection Process

Submissions will be reviewed by Maestro Stephen Alltop and Dr. Stacy Garrop. Five finalists will be selected and must be available to participate in a reading session/workshop on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Urbana, Illinois. The public will be invited to attend the workshop. Maestro Alltop and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra will rehearse all five finalist compositions during the workshop. Finalists will receive an audio recording of the full workshop session for their private, non-commercial use.

After the workshop, up to two compositions will be selected for performance by CUSO in the Foellinger Great Hall of the Krannert Center of the Performing Arts at a subscription concert of the 2018-2019 season. Winning composers will each receive a $500 cash prize and a professional-quality digital recording of the CUSO concert performance of their works for their private, non-commercial use. Dr. Garrop will be available to consult with the winners on score preparation if desired.

Competition Guidelines

  • The piece must have a duration of three minutes or less. Pieces with a longer duration will not be considered. Mark the duration of your piece at the top of the first page.
  • The instrumentation may not exceed 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, and 2 bassoons (with a maximum of 2 auxiliary instruments); 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, and 1 tuba; 3 percussionists; 1 timpanist; harp OR piano; and strings (10 first violins, 8 second violins, 7 violas, 6 cellos, 4 double basses). Pieces that are scored for smaller forces are fine; pieces that are scored for larger forces than this will not be considered.
  • There may be ONE entry per composer. There is no entry fee.
  • Entries must be submitted electronically; paper submissions will not be accepted. Your entry must include your full score, saved in PDF format, and a completed entry application. Send your complete entry by email to: scores@cusymphony.org
  • Audio may be submitted along with the full score, but is optional. If you have audio, please save it as an MP3 file and attach to the same email. A live recording is preferred; MIDI is acceptable.
  • Finalists must be available to participate in a reading session/workshop on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Urbana, Illinois. Finalists will be offered complimentary tickets to attend the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra’s March 2nd subscription concert on the evening before the workshop. Finalists who live more than 90 miles from Champaign will be offered one night of hotel accommodations to attend the March 3, 2018, workshop.
  • Up to two winners will be announced after the workshop and each winning composer will receive a $500 cash prize.
  • Download the CUSO Overture Composition Competition Entry Form. Entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. on January 1, 2018. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered.

For more information, please contact Dr. Garrop at composer@cusymphony.org


January 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m.: deadline for submissions.
January 20, 2018: Five finalists will be announced and all applicants will be notified.
February 12, 2018: Deadline for finalists to submit one set of single parts to the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra; the Orchestra will make the duplications of the string parts.
March 3, 2018: CUSO reading session and workshop of five finalists’ works; up to two winners will be selected after the workshop.
Spring/Summer 2018: Dr. Garrop will be available to consult with the winners on score preparation if desired.
2018/2019 Season: CUSO will perform the winning compositions during a subscription concert.


The CUSO Overture Composition Competition is made possible by funding from Music Alive. Major funding for Music Alive comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.