Applying for the Composition Concentration

Students interested in the composition concentration must submit an application to the composition faculty before the beginning of the semester they wish to enter the composition concentration. Entering first-year students will be expected to submit an application portfolio at their audition and will be scheduled for an interview with the composition faculty on their audition day.

Your portfolio should consist of scores and recordings of two or three pieces representing your best work in composition to date. Students are encouraged to submit pieces that show the range of their work (ensembles, length, technique, etc). Portfolios may be submitted electronically or in person to Dr. Haney (haneyjx@jmu.edu) or Dr. Guinivan (guiniver@jmu.edu). Electronic submissions should be in PDF format for scores and MP3 format for recordings. Physical submissions should be scores only, with MP3 recordings emailed to Dr. Haney and Dr. Guinivan.

Please note that the JMU composition concentration is centered on contemporary concert music. Students interested primarily in studying popular music, jazz, or musical theatre are encouraged to pursue majors in music industry, jazz studies, or musical theatre.

The composition faculty will review submitted portfolios and notify applicants about their admittance to the concentration track. At this time, JMU composition courses are open only to students that pass the portfolio review.

Declaring the Composition Concentration

The composition concentration is formally declared after one year of study in composition seminar. Composition students are required to maintain grades of B- or better in all music theory and aural skills courses. At the end of the student’s second semester, the student will do a composition jury with the faculty at which they will show and discuss their work from the year. This jury will serve as the entrance requirement for formal declaration of the composition concertation. Following successful completion of the jury, students will be directed to officially declare the concentration.

If the student does not successfully complete the jury, the student may continue study in composition seminar and may schedule a second jury at the end of the following semester. Students who do not pass the second jury will not be eligible to declare the composition concentration or continue in the composition seminar and upper-level coursework.

Please direct any questions about the composition concentration and the declaration process to Dr. Haney and Dr. Guinivan.

Revised January 19, 2020

JMU Composition Showcase

View the JMU Student Composer Showcase, featuring solo, chamber, and large ensemble performances by current JMU composition students and alumni.

See the Showcase

Competition Information

The JMU Wind Symphony and Composition Department are pleased to announce the sixth annual “New Music for Wind Ensemble” Composition Competition, providing an opportunity for the performance of a new work for wind ensemble composed by a JMU student during the spring 2022 semester.

Eligibility: Current JMU students that are enrolled in composition lessons or have completed at least one semester of composition study at JMU. Preference will be given to works composed while studying composition at JMU.

Recommended Duration: 6 to 10 minutes.

Instrumentation: While students will have some flexibility regarding instrumentation, they are encouraged to consider adhering to relatively standard collegiate wind ensemble instrumentation. Composers are encouraged to discuss instrumentation in detail with their primary teacher while working on the piece and may consult with Dr. Bolstad about any extended or unusual instrumentation requests.

Deadline: Dr. Haney must receive all entries by 12:00pm on Monday, November 29, 2021. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Entry Guidelines: On or before the day of the deadline, please submit the following:

  • Two professionally produced copies of the score
  • MP3 of a high-quality midi realization of the piece (emailed to Dr. Haney)

ANONYMOUS ENTRY REQUIREMENT: Entries will be anonymous. Both the score and recording should be free of any markings that identify the composer.

Adjudication and of Responsibilities of Winners:

  • The competition will be adjudicated by Dr. Bolstad and Dr. Haney, possibly with Dr. Guinivan and one or two other guest adjudicators from the School of Music Faculty.
  • The winning composer(s) will discuss and agree to a strict deadline for the creation and delivery of performance materials.
  • The winning composer(s) will be expected to provide sample parts and review them with Dr. Haney prior to the deadline. The final parts/performance materials will be held to the highest professional production standards.
  • The winning composer(s) must provide a biography and program note for their piece for the concert program.
  • Submitted compositions that are not selected are eligible to be resubmitted in subsequent years that the composer is in residence at JMU.
  • NOTE: The jury reserves the right to award no prize if all submitted scores are not of an appropriate standard of excellence.

Prize: The winning composition(s) will be rehearsed and performed by the JMU Wind Symphony or Symphonic Band under the direction of Dr. Bolstad during the Spring 2022 semester.

Previous Winners:

2019 - Michael Kahle

2018 - Mason Moy and Patrick Oswald

2017 - Brian Junttila

2016 - Lukas Garner and Douglas Byler

2015 - Chris Cerreto

The JMU Symphony Orchestra and Composition Department are pleased to announce the first “New Music for Strings” Composition Competition, providing an opportunity for the performance of a new work for string orchestra composed by a JMU student during the spring 2022 semester.

Eligibility: Current JMU students that are enrolled in composition lessons or have completed at least one semester of composition study at JMU. Preference will be given to works composed while studying composition at JMU.

Maximum Duration: 5 minutes

Instrumentation: String Orchestra: Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass

Deadline: Dr. Haney must receive all entries by 12:00pm on Monday, November 29, 2021. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Entry Guidelines: On or before the day of the deadline, please submit the following:

  • Two professionally produced copies of the score
  • MP3 of a high-quality midi realization of the piece (emailed to Dr. Haney)

ANONYMOUS ENTRY REQUIREMENT: Entries will be anonymous. Both the score and recording should be free of any markings that identify the composer.

Adjudication and of Responsibilities of Winners:

The competition will be adjudicated by Professor Beyers and Professor Haney, possibly with Dr. Guinivan and one or two other guest adjudicators from the School of Music Faculty.
  • The selected composer will discuss and agree to a strict deadline for the creation and delivery of performance materials.
  • The selected composer will be expected to provide sample parts and review them with Dr. Haney prior to the deadline. The final parts/performance materials will be held to the highest professional production standards.
  • The selected composer must provide a biography and program note for their piece for the concert program.
  • Submitted compositions that are not selected are eligible to be resubmitted in subsequent competitions while the composer is in residence at JMU.
  • NOTE: The jury reserves the right to award no prize if all submitted scores are not of an appropriate standard of excellence.
Prize: The winning composition(s) will be rehearsed and performed by the JMU Symphony Orchestra during the Spring 2022 semester.

The JMU Madison Singers and Composition Department are pleased to announce the second “New Music for Choir” Composition Competition, providing an opportunity for the performance of a new work for choir composed by a JMU student during the spring 2022 semester.

Eligibility: Current JMU students that are enrolled in composition lessons or have completed at least one semester of composition study at JMU. Preference will be given to works composed while studying composition at JMU.

Recommended Duration: 2.5 to 4 minutes

Scoring Requirements:

  • Submitted works must be written for SATB choir.
  • Works for SSA or TTB ensembles will not be eligible.
  • NEW: Works must use a text by a BIPOC poet or writer.
  • Works using text under copyright MUST acquire permission to use the text from the copyright holder prior to public performance of the work.
  • Composers are encouraged to write for unaccompanied SATB choir or SATB choir accompanied by piano. Composers may include additional instruments, but if selected for programming, composers will be responsible for recruiting any instrumentalists exceeding one pianist.
  • Submitted works must include a rehearsal piano part.
  • Language: composers are encouraged to set texts in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Latin. Other languages may be considered in consultation with your composition instructor and Dr. van der Vat-Chromy.

Deadline: Dr. Haney must receive all entries by 12:00pm on Monday, November 29, 2021. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Entry Guidelines: On or before the day of the deadline, please submit the following:

  • Two professionally produced copies of the score
  • MP3 of a high-quality midi realization of the piece (emailed to Dr. Haney).
  • Entries will be anonymous. Both the score and recording should be free of any markings that identify the composer.

Adjudication and of Responsibilities of Winners:

  • The competition will be adjudicated by Dr. Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy and Dr. Haney, possibly with Dr. Guinivan and one or two other guest adjudicators from the School of Music Faculty.
  • The winning composer(s) will discuss and agree to a strict deadline for the creation and delivery of performance materials.
  • Submitted compositions that are not selected are eligible to be resubmitted in subsequent competitions while the composer is in residence at JMU.
  • NOTE: The jury reserves the right to award no prize if all submitted scores are not of an appropriate standard of excellence.

Prize: One winning composition will be rehearsed and performed by the Madison Singers during the Spring 2022 semester. NOTE: If complications arise relating to Covid-19 that prohibit a spring 2022 performance, the performance would be postponed to Fall 2022.

Previous Winners:

  • 2019 - Kt Allenbaugh and Josh Fisher

Back to Top