Composer Lab

Nashville Symphony Composer Lab & Workshop

Nashville Symphony Composer Lab & Workshop is an opportunity for young composers to hear their music performed by the Nashville Symphony, receive mentoring and feedback from orchestra professionals, and potentially earn a performance of their work on the Nashville Symphony’s 2018/19 Classical Series.
Led by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Workshop Director Aaron Jay Kernis, the program seeks to discover the next generation of outstanding American composers by providing them with the opportunity to develop their talents, gain hands-on experience working with a major American orchestra, and showcase their work for a live audience. The Workshop & Lab is a natural outgrowth of the Nashville Symphony’s longstanding commitment to promoting and cultivating American music.


The Composer Lab & Workshop is open to composers who:
  • Are U.S. citizens or non-citizens lawfully and permanently residing, or studying full-time, in the United States.
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 33 at the time of submission.
  • Have not been selected as past participants of the Composer Lab & Workshop.


Submissions for the Composer Lab & Workshop must meet the following requirements:
  • Only one composition per applicant may be entered. Compositions must have been written in the last three years.
  • Works may not exceed 15 minutes in length.
  • Works must be scored for a standard symphonic complement.
  • Instrumentation may not exceed:
    • 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling English horn), 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 1 timpani, 3 percussion, 1 harp, 1 piano/celeste and strings.
  • Concertos, choral works, works with electronic elements, works with organ, and works solely for strings, winds or brass are not eligible.
  • Part preparation must adhere to the guidelines outlined by the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA).
  • Works must not have received a performance by a major orchestra with a budget greater than $3 million annually.

Submission details

  • Must be postmarked by April 22, 2017 (EXTENDED DEADLINE)
  • Must include two scores that are bound and legible, preferably at 11x17 size.
  • Must include one first violin part.
  • Scores must be labeled with composer’s name, email address and home address.
  • Must include CD recording.
  • Must include a short bio or résumé.
  • Must include a statement listing performances (if any), including dates of performance and performers.
  • Must include stamped, self-addressed envelope, should composer wish for materials to be returned.

Mail submissions to:
Composer Lab & Workshop
Nashville Symphony
1 Symphony Place
Nashville, TN 37201-2031


A panel of adjudicators will evaluate all submissions and announce the 2017 class of Nashville Symphony Composer Lab fellows by June 23, 2017.
The selected composers will be expected to submit final performance materials to the Nashville Symphony library by September 1, 2017. The cost of preparing, printing and mailing materials is solely the responsibility of the composer.
Fellows will visit Nashville on November 12-16, 2017, to attend the Composer Lab & Workshop. During their stay in Nashville, participants will have the opportunity to meet with Nashville Symphony staff, conductors, principal players, community partners and music industry professionals. Fellows will also receive mentoring from Workshop Director Aaron Jay Kernis. One or more works may be chosen from the Composer Lab & Workshop to be premiered on the Nashville Symphony’s 2018/19 Aegis Sciences Classical Series.
The Nashville Symphony will provide airfare, hotel accommodations and a $1,000 stipend for all Composer Lab & Workshop participants.

In collaboration with Copland House — the award-winning creative center for American music based at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home near New York City — one participating composer may also be selected for a coveted Copland House Residency Award or a fellowship at Copland House’s CULTIVATE emerging composers institute.

View previous Composer Lab participants.

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