The Colorado Symphony has teamed up with Wonderbound, a contemporary ballet company, to host an international competition in which one original composition will be picked for a performance held next year. The compositions that win the competition will be the soundtrack to two live dance performances premiering in Denver.
The competition is aimed at working with up and coming composers. Composers looking to enter should submit an eight to 10-minute recording and a full score. The composition must be able to work with one flute, one oboe, one clarinet, one bassoon, one horn and strings. While Colorado Symphony and Wonderbound are looking for original work that explores multiple musical themes — the composition should fit one of two provided narratives. The first narrative features a romantic themed adagio and follows a woman and her radio. The second narrative is centered around The Afternoon of a Faun by novelist Edna Ferber. The story follows a young car mechanic wandering the streets of Chicago. Those looking to submit for the second narrative should create a composition that can bring Ferber’s story to life.
The Colorado Symphony Organization has been collaborating regularly with Wonderbound for about five years. The idea for the competition sprouted from discussions on trying something new for the upcoming performance season. Izabel Zambrzycki, artistic general manager for Colorado Symphony, shared that the companies are looking to interact with new composers that they have not worked with previously.
“It’s not just a benefit for the composer but also for both Wonderbound and the Colorado Symphony,” Zambrzycki said. “When we develop a relationship with a new composer it opens doors for a multitude of collaborations for both organizations that will absolutely go past just this competition.”
Garrett Ammon, artistic director and choreographer for Wonderbound, shared that many professionals from the music and dance worlds will be analyzing the competition entries.
“A great entry will have all the prerequisites of a solid composition: theme, variation, melody, dynamics, rhythm,” Ammon said. “But it will also have something extra, a certain danceability that isn’t easily defined. An emotional center that is compelling, interesting and unique.”
Out of the entries received — two winners will be selected, one for each narrative. The winning submissions are expected to go through multiple revisions. While the entries are not meant to be lengthy — the final composition will be around 35 to 45 minutes in length. The performance will premiere October 15, 2021 in Denver.
“It’s important that the composers come to the table with an open mind on how the work may develop. You might think it’s going one way but who knows what direction it goes later on,” Zambrzycki said. “It is absolutely a collaborative effort but we are very committed to also ensuring that the composer feels as though it is still 100% their composition and that it is still their voice that is heard through the musicians and the dancers.”
Composers have until December 11 to submit their work. The two winners who are selected will not only have their work featured in the collaborative performance — but will also win a $7,500 cash prize.
“It’s a tough time for all arts organizations and likely even tougher for young composers who are trying to get their start,” Zambrzycki said. “This is a great way for our organizations to work together to create more repertoire for orchestras and dance.”