Composition Contest

The David P ‘60 and Susan W Wohlhueter Jazz Composition Contest at Ithaca College

About the contest

The contest has been created to encourage composers to write for the jazz ensemble and to give Ithaca College students the experience of evaluating and performing new music. Students will participate in the judging of the contest. The winner of the contest will receive a prize of $1,000 plus a concert recording of their piece with the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble. This year our guest artist at the culminating concert on May 2, 2019, will be world-renowned trombonist Vincent Gardner, who will perform the winning piece with the Jazz Ensemble.

Judges will use five criteria to assess submissions:

  1. QUALITY: The overall musical quality of the piece.
  2. TRADITION: Compositions should be steeped in the traditions of jazz.
  3. ACCESSIBILITY: Compositions should be musically accessible to both the audience and the performers.
  4. DIFFICULTY: The difficulty level of the compositions should be such that they are playable by high school honor jazz bands, college bands, and professionals alike. Brass range should be considered in terms of the related aspects of (1) not being too high, and (2) allowing enough time for players to rest. Both aspects should be considered for brass playability.
  5. NOTATION: Compositions must be professionally notated and clear. Clarity includes (but is not limited to) aspects such as:
    • Scores should be bound properly and parts bound/taped with well-considered page turns.
    • Clear roadmap (repeats, D.S., D.C, coda, etc. should be easy for everyone to follow)
    • Commonly known/used chord symbols.
    • Well-considered spacing, bars per system, etc.
    • Sufficient rehearsal letters/numbers.
    • Page orientation and how it relates to page turns (scores should not turn vertically, for example).
    • Clear style, with sufficient articulations and dynamics.

Winning pieces, composers and guest artists from previous years are listed at https://www.ithaca.edu/music/ensembles/jazzensemble/CompContest/previouswinners/.

Submission deadline

All submissions must be received by February 1, 2019, to be eligible for the contest. Pieces received after that date will be ineligible.

Contest rules

Please read this complete set of rules before submitting your piece. (Instructions for submission are found below, in the section "How to enter the contest.")

  1. Entries must be original, unpublished compositions for instrumental jazz ensemble, utilizing the following instrumentation:
    1. 5 saxophones, AATTB. Soprano sax can be written in alto 1 or tenor 1 part(s). Other woodwind doubling may be possible, but any/all woodwind doubling parts must be optional, and the chart must be playable without the doubles. If the winning piece contains woodwind doubles, the winning composer may be asked to re-send sax parts with a different configuration, depending on the strengths of the section this year.
    2. 4 trombones (3 tenor + 1 bass trombone). Common mutes are usable. Tuba may also be added with an additional part. Mr. Gardner’s solo part may be a separate/additional part, or it can be included in one of the existing trombone parts, but in that case the section(s) intended as his solo must be clearly identified.
    3. 4 Bb trumpets. Common mutes (plunger, straight, cup, harmon, or bucket) are usable. The range and endurance of college and high school honor band trumpeters should be considered thoughtfully. Flugelhorns are also possible.
    4. Rhythm section of piano, guitar, double bass and drum set. A part for vibes or auxiliary percussion is also possible.
  2. Compositions should feature trombone, or at least contain a significant portion of trombone solo, since Mr. Gardner will be the featured guest artist for the concert. In addition, other members of the jazz ensemble may also be given solos, and there can be open solo sections for the ensemble to determine soloists.
  3. No transcriptions or arrangements will be eligible, except arrangements or re-workings of the composer's own pieces.
  4. The contest is open to composers of any age, race, religion, country of residence, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation. However, current Ithaca College students, faculty or staff are not eligible to enter the contest. Students, faculty and staff composers are encouraged to submit pieces/arrangements to Mr. Titlebaum for consideration for performance at any time (including for this concert) but not to enter the contest itself. This rule is in place to ensure that the judges do not know the identities of the composers.
  5. The composition may already have been performed, but should have been written recently (in the past several years). The purpose of this contest is to encourage the creation of new music, but no exact time period is mandated.
  6. The purpose of the prize is to encourage the composition and performance of the highest possible quality of jazz ensemble literature for a wide range of experience levels. Therefore, the composition should be conceived and constructed for effective performance by high school honors jazz, university and professional ensembles alike.
  7. Entries should be no longer than 8 minutes in length.
  8. Compositions must be submitted with a full score and full set of parts. Compositions without a full score or complete set parts will not be considered.
  9. An audio recording of the piece must be submitted along with the online entry form. High-quality computer renditions or MIDI-based audio recordings are acceptable, but a recording of a live reading, rehearsal or performance is preferable.
  10. The submissions must be completely anonymous. Therefore, the composer’s name must not appear in any form on the score, parts, nor be audible on the audio file. If the composer's name is announced at a recorded performance, that portion should be edited out. The envelope containing the printed entry form confirmation email (see "How to enter the contest" below for the link to the online entry form) and a check or money order for $25 made out to "Ithaca College" should be included in the envelope. The date of composition must appear on the title page. Entry fees will not be returned for any reason.
  11. Composers may submit as many pieces as they like, but each piece must be submitted separately with a separate entry fee, printed entry form and outer/inner envelopes for each.
  12. The winning composer will receive $1,000 (US). Winner will also receive a concert recording of their piece with guest artist Vincent Gardner, from the performance which is scheduled to occur on Thursday May 2, 2019, in Ford Hall at the Whalen Center for Music, Ithaca College. In the unlikely event that an unforeseen situation prevents Mr. Gardner from performing, the piece will still be recorded, but only with the IC Jazz Ensemble. The winner is strongly encouraged to attend the performance. Travel/lodging is at the composer’s own expense.
  13. The Ithaca College School of Music has the option of withholding the award if no entry is found to be suitable.
  14. Composers must not attempt to contact any of the members of the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble or guest artist to exert influence over the outcome of the contest. Any attempt to do so will immediately disqualify the composer and all their submissions from the contest. See the section below “QUESTIONS” for instructions on how to handle inquiries about the contest.

How to enter the contest

  1. Read the complete set of rules (above).

  2. Completely fill out an online entry form at the address https://form.jotform.us/71966297830166 and print the confirmation message or email you receive after submission.

  3. Enclose the printed confirmation message and $25 (US) entry fee in a sealed envelope. Write your name and the name of your piece on envelope.

  4. Enclose the sealed envelope (containing the printed submission form and entry fee) with the fully anonymous score and parts into a single envelope/package.

  5. Send the envelope/package to be received at Ithaca College no later than February 1, 2019 to:

Jazz Composition Contest
Ithaca College School of Music
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY, 14850

Questions

Questions can be addressed to Mike Titlebaum, Director of Jazz Studies, at mtitlebaum@ithaca.edu. In any communication, do not name your piece or mention any specific aspects that would identify your piece to ensure that anonymity of all the entries is maintained. Please send questions before January 15th, 2019. Questions received after that date may not be answered before the contest deadline.

I'm looking forward to hearing your music!

-Mike

Ithaca College Jazz Composition Contest