Underwood New Music Readings 2020

  • How to Apply

    Applications are due September 19, 2019 11:59pm EST

    Apply Now


Underwood New Music Readings 2020
March 12-14, 2020 (New York, NY)

Submission Deadline: September 19, 2019 11:59pm EST
Composer Notification: November 19, 2019


American Composers Orchestra seeks to identify and celebrate emerging American composers through its Underwood New Music Readings program.

The Readings include two sessions with American Composers Orchestra, a working-rehearsal and a run-through performance. The performances are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for archival, study and portfolio purposes. Composers also participate in a series of professional development workshops covering such topics as promotion, score preparation, publishing, copyright agreements, and other career essentials.

The Underwood New Music Readings participant composers will work closely with mentor composers Melinda Wagner, another established American composer (TBA), and ACO Artistic Director, Derek Bermel

Six composers will be chosen to participate and at the conclusion of the program, one participating composer will receive a $15,000 commission and future performance by ACO. Female participant composers are also eligible to apply for the Women Composers Commission Program, which, in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, provides three women with a $15,000 commission and world premiere with a professional orchestra.

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. 
  • 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.

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 unless explicitly invited by ACO staff via email. 
  • Works may not have been performed or read by a professional orchestra; student and festival orchestras do not qualify as “professional.”
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work may also be considered. 
  • Instrumentation should not exceed the ACO’s standard symphonic complement: winds at; brass at; harp, piano, timpani plus 3 percussion, and strings. Doublings allowed: piccolo, bass clarinet, and bass trombone. Composers should expect some re-orchestration will be requested upon acceptance.
  • 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.

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.

How to Apply

Before submitting an application, carefully review the eligibility and submission guidelines above. A complete submission must include the following:

  • A completed online submission form.
  • A pdf of the score clearly labeled with the composer’s name and title of the work on the cover page.
  • A current resume including educational background, major teachers, awards, and professional affiliations.
  • There is no application fee.
  • The application process must be completed by 11:59 pm EST, September 19, 2019. Late submissions will not be considered.

If Selected

  • Composers will be notified by November 19, 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.

Questions & Information

For questions, contact Aiden Feltkamp, Emerging Composers and Diversity Director: 212.977.8495 ext 252; or aiden@americancomposers.org