EarShot is the nation’s first ongoing, systematic program for cultivating relationships between orchestras and composers. In addition to its annual readings with the NYC-based American Composers Orchestra, EarShot works with a national network of orchestral partners each season to discover and develop composers whose work expands the definition of American orchestral music.

EarShot is a program of the American Composers Orchestra, in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, American Composers Forum, and New Music USA. Over the past 10 years the program has initiated dozens of composer/orchestra/conductor relationships across the country offering opportunities to more than 100 composers. In 2016, ACO launched a composer archive of past EarShot compositions as a resource to the field. Orchestras across the country and around the world rely on EarShot to identify and connect with creative artists, as well as to advise on commissions, competitions, and program design. For over a generation, EarShot Readings (est. 2008) as well as ACO’s New Music Readings (“Whitaker” from 1993-2009, “Underwood” from 2009-2020, “EarShot in NYC” from 2022 onwards), have provided all-important career development and public exposure to the country’s most promising composers, with nearly 400 composers participating.

There is no application fee for EarShot Readings. Additionally, travel (up to $700) and local accommodations are provided for the selected composers. Those selected also receive recordings of their works for personal and/or professional use.

American Composers Orchestra

ACO is seeking artists/composers with works for symphonic orchestra (3333/4331/timp+3/harp/piano/strings[]) to be rehearsed, performed, and recorded in New York City on June 13-14, 2024, offering selected participants the opportunity to collaborate with mentors consisting of both established orchestral composers and industry leaders. This call for scores aims to highlight and celebrate the unique musical and cultural contributions of the Americas to global musical ecosystems. While all submissions will be considered, works that highlight styles/genres that are unique to the Americas (including, but not limited to: American pop, jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, rock and roll, R&B, pop, hip-hop, soul, funk, gospel, disco, house, techno, ragtime, doo-wop, folk, Americana, boogaloo, tejano, reggaeton, mariachi, and salsa) will be given prioritized consideration.

The Jacobs School of Music

The Jacobs School of Music is seeking composers with works for orchestra (2[1.2/picc]2[1.2/eh]2[1.2/bcl]2/2211/tmp+3/harp/piano[cel]/str[]) to be rehearsed and recorded in Bloomington, IN, March 20-22, 2024, offering selected participants the opportunity to collaborate with mentors consisting of both established orchestral composers and industry leaders as well as renowned faculty at the Jacobs School of Music. This collaboration between ACO and the Jacobs School of Music aims to identify the growing diversity of perspective and aesthetic among the nation’s orchestral composers. This call is open to all composers who meet ACO’s EarShot Readings criteria; composers from historically marginalized backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

There is no application fee for either of these opportunities. Travel (up to $700) and local accommodations are provided. Participants will receive recordings of their works for both personal and professional use.
  • This opportunity is for artists/composers who have had 2 or fewer pieces performed by a professional orchestra (30+ players). College, youth, and/or festival orchestra performances, as well as performances that have taken place in conjunction with any composer advancement initiative or program do not count toward the number of pieces “performed by a professional orchestra.”
  • U.S. applicants must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing or studying full-time in the United States. DACA recipients are eligible to apply. Mexican, Canadian, Central American, and South American applicants must be a citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing or studying full-time in their respective countries.
  • There are no age restrictions; applicants should be composers/artists at the early stages of their professional orchestral careers.
  • Composers selected to participate in any previous EarShot Reading are ineligible.
  • Compositions that have already been submitted for ACO’s 2024 EarShot Readings that fit within the orchestration parameters of this call will be automatically considered.

Application Instructions

  • Applicants may submit one work for each opportunity. Applicants may not submit multiple scores for either opportunity.
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work will be considered. Works that have been previously performed are eligible.
  • Submitted works must not exceed the instrumentation parameters outlined by ACO (3333/4331/timp+3/harp/piano/strings[]) orJacobs School of Music (2[1.2/picc]2[1.2/eh]2[1.2/bcl]2/2211/tmp+3/harp/piano[cel]/str[]).
  • Compositions that include MIDI, digital technology, amplification, and/or sound reinforcement will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Concertos, vocal works, and works for string orchestra, woodwind, or brass ensemble are not eligible.
  • Do not submit recordings.
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will not be considered.  

Upcoming Deadlines

Before submitting an application, carefully review the eligibility and submission guidelines for each call. 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.
  • There is no application fee.

Application Receipt Deadline: Sunday, October 8, 2023 11:59 PM EST

American Composers Orchestra
The Jacobs School of Music

If Selected

  • Composers must be available and ready to attend the required reading sessions, feedback meetings, and professional development workshops. Childcare and/or accommodations for physical disability and neurodiversity will be provided upon request.
  • Composers agree to participate in an educational event in conjunction with their EarShot participation; events may take place virtually prior to the reading, or on-site during the reading dates.
  • Composers will provide professional, legible orchestral parts and scores prepared according to guidelines established by the Major Orchestral Librarians Association.
  • Composers will submit self-portraits/headshots and a short biography for media purposes.  
  • Vocal works, works that feature soloists, and works for string orchestra, woodwind, or brass ensemble are not eligible.
  • Composers agree that their music and EarShot activities will be videotaped/audio recorded for archival and promotional purposes with no additional licensing fees due to ACO or its orchestral partners.

About Our Review & Selection Process

Scores are reviewed by a panel of composers representing various backgrounds, demographics, and musical styles. Panelists rate the scores numerically on criteria including originality, technical proficiency, and orchestration. Selected scores will advance to a second round of panelists, including ACO’s Artistic Director, Curtis Stewart, who will in turn select a group of finalists. From these finalists, participants will be selected by ACO staff.

Review panelists from the past four years include Anthony R. Green, Alyssa Weinberg, Shawn Okpebholo, Kathryn Alexander, David Biedenbender, Lisa Bielawa, Chen Yi, Anthony Cheung, Rob Deemer, Man Fang, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jimmy Lopez, Eric Nathan, Clint Needham, Gabriela Ortiz, Elizabeth Ogonek, Kate Soper, Ken Ueno, Dan Visconti, Wang Jie, Wang Lu, Xi Wang, Trevor Weston, and Lidiya Yankovskaya.

Questions & Information

For questions or comments on EarShot or the call for scores, please contact Loki Karuna, Director of Artist Equity: loki@americancomposers.org.