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Composition Competition

ClefWorks Composition Competition

Be a part of our 2017 Festival Season. Submit your original composition to ClefWorks for consideration in our 2016-2017 Composition Competition!

One winning submission will be selected to be performed by the Catalyst Quartet during ClefWorks’ March 2017 Festival. The composer of the selected composition will receive $1,000 and reasonable travel expenses to the Festival to participate in rehearsals and attend the performance.

This year’s Composition Competition provides an extraordinary opportunity for aspiring composers to premiere the performance of their work by the renowned Catalyst Quartet. For more information about Catalyst, go to


Eligible Compositions: Compositions must be for a string quartet. Works must be original, unpublished, and not professionally recorded or performed. You may submit more than one composition, but an entry fee must accompany each submission.

Composition Length: There is no time limit, but an eight-minute maximum is ideal because the work will be performed as part of a broader Catalyst program. If a much longer composition is chosen, Catalyst might perform only one or two movements during the festival.

Electronic Submissions: Please submit an e-mail to Ken Stephens at with the full score attached in PDF format. Do not include the composer’s name on the PDF attachment. In the body of the e-mail, please state your name, email address, phone number, mailing address, the title of the composition and the method of payment. We will ask finalists for additional biographical information and program notes prior to the Festival.

Recordings: If an mp3 or MIDI recording exists, you may attach the electronic file or submit a CD by US Mail. A recording might be helpful for the judges, but it is not required. Some previous winners submitted recordings and others did not, so use your judgement about how well the recording showcases your composition.

Mailing address for recordings: ClefWorks 2016 Composition Competition, P. O. Box 242307, Montgomery, AL 36124-2307. Please do not mail paper copies of the score.

Prize: The winner will receive $1,000 as well as reasonable travel expenses to ClefWorks’ March 2017 Festival from any location within the continental United States. Travel expenses for international contestants must be negotiated, but they will be paid in full if comparable to domestic airfares.

Age limit: There is no composer age limit.
Deadline for submission: Compositions must be received by 11:45pm, November 30, 2016, to be considered.

Entry fee: The competition fee is $30, payable to ClefWorks, Inc. Entry fees must be received by November 30, 2016. PayPal payment is preferred to: We will accept a money order or personal check drawn on a U.S. bank if necessary. In your submission e-mail, please tell us how you paid so we can match scores with fees.

Festival Dates: March 5-10, 2017. Catalyst will perform the winning composition on Friday, March 10, 2017, and composers must be present.

Judges: The Catalyst Quartet will select the winner and any named finalists. If Catalyst is interested in performing or recording any additional compositions after the Competition, they will work directly with composers. Since the judges for this Composition Competition are always the featured performing group for that year’s ClefWorks festival, judging criteria and preferences will change from year to year. Consequently, a work submitted in previous years might be viewed very differently and you are welcome to resubmit it.

Announcement of Winner: ClefWorks will publicly announce the winner at by January 16, 2017. The winning composer will also be contacted personally.

ClefWorks Acknowledgement: Programs for future performances of the winning work must acknowledge the Composition Competition award.

Questions? Go to, or contact Ken Stephens at