Call for Applications: Detroit Symphony Orchestra EarShot

  • How to Apply

    Applications are due December 10, 2018 3:00pm EST

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EarShot: Detroit Symphony Orchestra

March 2-9, 2019 (Detroit, MI)

Application Receipt Deadline: December 10, 2018 3:00pm EST
Composer Notification: January 3, 2019


EarShot, an initiative of American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in partnership with American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA, is the nation’s first ongoing program for identifying and promoting the most promising orchestral composers on the national stage. ACO’s artistic and administrative staff collaborates with participating orchestras, assisting with planning, program design, and execution. EarShot residencies include mentorship from the most accomplished orchestral composers in the country, orchestra readings, and musician and conductor feedback sessions.  The program is customized to each host orchestra’s aesthetic, demographic, community, and educational interests.

American Composers Orchestra seeks to identify and celebrate emerging American composers through its EarShot program.

In keeping with ACO’s commitment to customizing the EarShot residencies to the participating orchestra’s programming requests, Detroit Symphony Orchestra will only select black American composers for their residency. The Sarasota Orchestra EarShot residency and the Underwood New Music Readings are open to composers of all races and ethnicities.

This year, the Detroit EarShot participant composers will work closely with mentor composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Derek Bermel, and DSO’s Classical Roots composer-in-residence (TBD), as well as conductor André Raphel, guest teaching artist Jessie Montgomery, and ACO’s Education Director, Kevin James.

The Professional Development component of this residency will be focused on education and community engagement. Participant composers will receive hands-on training and will collaborate with DSO’s Teaching Artists, Jessie Montgomery, and Kevin James to present composition basics to students in local public schools. Composers may be asked to re-orchestrate a short excerpt of their chosen piece for a high school chamber ensemble. For more details on the education component, please read the full outline here.


There is no application fee. Travel and accommodations are provided, and composers will receive a recording of their work for archival and study purposes.


  • This program is for composers who have had fewer than 2 pieces performed by a professional orchestra. (College and festival orchestra performances do not apply.) 
  • Applicant must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing, or studying full-time, in the United States.
  • We seek composers of all backgrounds, especially those whose gender identity, race, ethnicity, physical ability, neurodiversity, socio-economic status, and/or background has been historically or currently underrepresented in professional orchestral programming.
  • For the 2019 Detroit Symphony Orchestra residency, only black American composers are eligible. The 2019 Sarasota Orchestra EarShot residency and Underwood New Music Readings are open to composers of all races and ethnicities. 
  • There are no age restrictions; applicants should be composers at the early stages of their professional careers.
  • Composers selected to participate in prior ACO EarShot, Underwood, or Whittaker New Music Reading Sessions are ineligible.
  • Past applicants not previously selected are welcome to re-apply with a new and complete application, including score and all required background information. The only exception is those who received a personal invitation from ACO to re-apply with the same score.

Application Instructions

  • Each composer may submit only one composition for consideration. Works that have been previously submitted to ACO for consideration may not be resubmitted.
  • Works may not have been performed or read by a professional orchestra
  • Compositions may not include soloists, electronics, MIDI, digital technology, and/or sound reinforcement.
  • Do not submit recordings.
  • The quality of the score submitted is the primary evaluation criterion. It is therefore in the applicant’s best interest that the score be clear, accurate, and the best representation of the composer’s work. The additional background and educational information is for eligibility and documentation purposes; these materials are not considered in the general review of scores.
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will not be considered.
  • Instrumentation should not exceed: winds at; brass at; timpani plus 3 percussion, 1 harp, 1 keyboard, and strings. Doublings allowed: piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon. Composers should expect some re-orchestration will be requested.
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work may also be considered.

Composers selected are responsible for delivering professional-quality score and parts.  Travel and accommodations will be provided.

Applicants must submit an electronic submission form, the orchestral score and resume. There is no application fee.


If Selected

  • Composers will be notified by January 3, 2019.
  • Composers must be available and ready to attend reading sessions, feedback meetings and professional development workshops on the dates listed for the reading applied for. Necessary accommodations for physical disability and/or neurodiversity will be provided upon request.
  • Composers must provide professional, legible orchestral parts and scores prepared according to guidelines established by the Major Orchestral Librarians Association. Materials for the first reading session must be delivered no later than 45 days before the reading session for which they have been selected.
  • Composers agree to:  submit photos and sound clips for web use and a short biography for media purposes; to participate in blogging and social media to be videotaped/recorded for archival and promotional purposes; and to have their music recorded for archival and study purposes.

For questions, contact Aiden Feltkamp, Emerging Composers and Diversity Director: 212.977.8495 ext 252; or