Emerging Composers’ Competition

Emerging Composers' Competition

The competition is open to all composers of any nationality under the age of 35 to have their work performed by the Golden State Youth Orchestra (GSYO) along with prize money.

Who Are We?

More than 450 K-12 students from over 100 schools from San Francisco to Santa Cruz train and perform in four orchestras and two ensembles, led by the award-winning, internationally recognized Symphony Orchestra. Concerts, tours, retreats, summer workshops, masterclasses and music festivals form a vital part of the GSYO experience, creating opportunities for youth at all levels of musical development to grow socially and artistically while participating in the Bay Area’s foremost instrumental training and education program.


  • 1st Prize – US$750, Performance of the work during the 2025-2026 season by Symphony Orchestra, top orchestra at GSYO including professional audio recording of the concert performance
  • 2nd Prize – US$500
  • 3rd Prize – US $250

All composers of any career status, nationality, or demographic group under the age of 35 are encouraged to apply. Works will be considered based on its composition quality and appropriateness for GSYO and its audience.

The two video recordings below are reflective of GSYO’s playing level of recently composed works:

Jonathan Shin’s Night Bazaar (2019) ; Anna Clyne’s Masquerade (2013)

Commissioning new works is extremely important for any orchestra. Symphony orchestras can very easily fall into the habit of regurgitating masterworks of great composers from the past, for a good reason. However, composers are at the frontier of progress in Classical Music and if they do not write, we will not have the music of tomorrow. The purpose of this competition is to encourage more new music to be written and performed.

Dr. Yun Song Tay

Music Director & Conductor


Jeffery Meyer
Professor of Music, Orchestral Conducting, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music

Valerie Pelka
Composer & Orchestrator

Yun Song Tay
Music Director & Conductor


  • Works must be between 6-12 minutes.
  • Previous commissions by community orchestra or composition projects in music schools are allowed. However, works that have been publicly performed by a professional orchestra are not allowed.
  • The work must not have been commercially recorded.
  • Work must be written for a full symphony orchestra. Maximum instrumentation ( – – strings – hp.pf – 5 perc). Composers are encouraged to fully utilize this instrumentation but not necessarily all of them.
  • No chorus or concerto/vocal soloists.
  • No staged elements (e.g. operas, ballets)
  • Works with multimedia (e.g. video, electronics) are acceptable. But technical requirements must be sent along with submission. Upon the discretion of GSYO, performance may or may not include multimedia elements.
  • All materials must be submitted online – no mail submissions, in whole or part.


  • PDF Score of the complete work in its complete orchestration (no short scores or reductions)
  • Do not include your name in the full score during submission
  • MIDI recording of the work
  • Program notes of the work
  • If the composer is under the age of 18 by the time of the dateline, the form must be completed by a parent or legal guardian
  • Photocopy of Passport/ID may be requested if applicant is a finalist (born after 1st of January 1990)
  • $50 application fee

Deadline to apply: April 30th, 2025, 5pm (PDT).

Late applications will not be accepted.

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