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Ember Choral Arts is excited to launch our brand-new Ember Ablaze Composer Lab (EACL), with the goal of commissioning two young composers each season, one each from two categories: young composers ages 13-21 and emerging composers ages 22-35. Honorable mentions will be given to the top two winners from each category. Each chosen composer will participate in live and virtual workshops, culminating in world premieres of their works. All composers will receive archival audio files and potential YouTube video links to their works.

Deadlines (subject to change)

  • October 15: deadline for submissions.
  • November 1: announcement of winning composers and honorable mentions
  • November 15: introductory Zoom meetings with EACL composers, Dr. Robert Paterson, Ember's composer-in-residence, Dr. Deborah Simpkin King, Ember's Founding Artist Director, and James Mosser, Ember's Director of Operations, Marketing and Public Relations. Winning composers should submit text suggestions before this meeting.
  • December 15: submit final texts for approval. After which, Robert schedules two more private Zoom or in-person meetings with both composers to discuss pieces and check in on progress.
  • January 20: final composition submitted
  • February 6: EACL live workshop with Ember
  • February 20: rehearsals begin for the May concert
  • March 10: EACL composer final draft due
  • May 17-19: (Weekend before Memorial Day): final concert, including EACL pieces

Key Points and Goals

  • Performances: Ember will perform both pieces at the end of the season.
  • Commission Fees: the emerging composer will receive a $2,500 commission, and the high school composer will receive a $1,000 commission. An additional stipend of $500 per composer also covers travel and accommodations to the live workshop with Ember.
  • Work Duration: 5-8 minutes for the emerging composer work; 3-5 minutes for the high school composer work.
  • Instrumentation: a cappella, or with piano, or obligato percussion instrument (hand percussion, drumset, cajon, or suspended cymbal) with or without a piano. Percussion instrumentation will need to be cleared by Ember first before the composition is written. No other instruments will be considered, just piano or obligation percussion instruments listed here.
  • There are no stylistic limitations. Typically, Ember performs a mix of contemporary classical works and a variety of pop music arrangements and pieces inspired by music from around the world. We recommend reviewing Ember's videos on YouTube to get a sense of the type of repertoire Ember performs.
  • The composed piece must be original; arrangements and transcriptions will not be accepted.
  • IMPORTANT: we strongly advise composers to be mindful of various details, such as difficulty level and rehearsal time, when composing for the voice. We recommend that composers review Composing For The Voice: Suggestions and Guidelines, written by Robert Paterson, our composer-in-residence, before composing your piece.
  • All rights to the musical compositions and texts will remain with the respective authors. Ember Choral Arts retains all rights to the recordings (i.e., video links and audio files will be given to composers for posting on sites, social media, etc., but are not for use for sale or professional release or placement in films and other media, online or otherwise).
  • There is a $50.00 submission fee. Applicants in financial hardship may apply for a fee waiver through accepted. Once your fee has been paid, it is non-refundable. 

Text Choices

This season's program theme is "Love/Acceptance Versus Contempt/Loathing." The texts for each composer's piece will need to relate to this theme. Text may be in the public domain, or you may use a text you have written permission to use. Please note that written permission from the publisher, publishing agent, and/or author must be obtained prior to composing your piece. The text may be pre-existing or written by a living writer. The composers themselves may not write the texts.


Text Guidelines


  • Texts should not exceed one single-sided page in length, single-spaced, 12-point text. Generally, three five-line stanzas are about the right amount of text, depending on style, repetition, and so on.
  • Please note that texts will need to be approved by Ember, the director, and our composer-in-residence.
  • Due to the family-friendly nature of our programs, we ask that texts contain no profanity.
  • Also note that composers will need to cover all costs associated with the use or creation of their texts (obtaining rights, fees for a living writer, etc.).

Music Guidelines

All music must be original and composed by the individual composer. No arrangements, transcriptions, or AI-generated works will be accepted. We strongly recommend that composers refer to Ember's Video Gallery as a guideline for the stylistic spectrum in which Ember performs. Works will need to be performable with a maximum of three rehearsals and a dress rehearsal.

**Select Ember Ablaze Composer Lab from the Dropdown Menu on the left to begin your application.