Four musicians playing stringed instruments
Composition Competition2021-02-22T12:25:31-06:00

2020 Composition Competition  – We have a winner…

ClefWorks announces the winner of the String Quartet Composition Competition, and the world premiere of the selected piece in Birmingham, Alabama, by the Samford Quartet on February 23, 2021.

“Nan Yi’s piece, entitled “Fenway Park” has been selected as the First Place Winner in the competition,” said Jenny Brown, Executive Director at ClefWorks. “Nan is a young composer, studying in the United States and reflecting on his new home of Boston, Massachusetts. Fenway captures his love for the city and was written during the unique summer of 2020.”

The theme for the Composition Competition this year was The Year 2020: Life, Headlines and the Soul of America.  Musicians were left without audiences this year. So ClefWorks opened this competition to celebrate the creation of new music, and to encourage beauty out of chaos. We were thrilled with the contributions we received from across the country, from Vermont to Oregon, Massachusetts to Missouri. All of the entries captured a different aspect of this year and created lasting art from isolation. We commend all the composers who took a risk and shared their immense talents with us.

The Composer

Nan Yi (b. 1995) is a Chinese born composer who is currently studying composition in the United States. His compositional interest is on how to employ the past musical tradition into the modern context, or in other words, how to integrate the contemporary musical expression with the musical tradition from the past. He wants to write music that sounds new, but to some degree, old as well. He is currently a composition master student at New England Conservatory, Boston. He looks forward to continuing further doctoral study in the future.

“The string quartet was composed from the summer break of this unprecedented year. Each movement is named after a location I encountered in the past. Fenway Park is my favorite spot during my study in Boston. All of these places represent a slice of my everyday life.”

The World Premiere

The Samford Quartet is comprised of faculty members, Caroline and Samuel Nordlund and Jeffrey and Angela Flaniken. These immensely talented musicians had the difficult task of judging the entries and will perform the winning piece in their faculty concert on Tuesday, February 23, in Brock Recital Hall on Samford’s campus. Attendance is limited to Samford’s guests, however a livestream is available on the University website and to all subscribers of ClefNotes, the ClefWorks newsletter.

Competition Guidelines

Guideline and Details –

Eligible Compositions: Compositions must be for a string quartet OR a solo guitar.  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.

Composer Age Limit : 18 -35

Composition Length: Six minute maximum.

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

Recordings: If an mp3 or MIDI recording exists, you may attach the electronic file. 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.

Deadline for submission:

String Quartet Compositions must be received by 11:30pm CST, November 30, 2020

Classical Guitar Solo Compositions must be received by 11:30 pm CST, January 14, 2021

Questions?: Contact us