Annual Young Composers Competition now accepting original compositions |

Annual Young Composers Competition now accepting original compositions

Daily staff report

SUMMIT COUNTY — Now through Friday, April 1, compositions are being accepted for Summit Music and Arts’ annual Young Composers Competition. The competition provides an opportunity for musicians and composers ages 10 to 18 residing in Clear Creek, Eagle, Grand, Lake, Park, Routt and Summit counties to enter one or more original compositions for critique.

If selected, then students will perform their original compositions on Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m. at Summit Middle School Auditorium in Frisco. Full details, competition guidelines and regulations and an application form are available at

This program is made possible, in part, by funding from The Summit Foundation. There is no entry fee. For more information, call Summit Music and Arts at 970-389-5788.

Competition origins

The competition began in 1995 as the Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition, founded by Len Rhodes, now artistic director for Summit Music and Arts, in response to many young musicians in Colorado who were seeking professional help and support with their original music. The organization began simply as a program offered through the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs, and the first two years attracted entries from young composers primarily residing in that city.

As the result of a National Public Radio article, awareness of the competition increased dramatically. In particular, conservatories with junior departments encouraged their students to submit entries to the competition. These conservatories included The Juilliard School in New York and both the Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory in Boston. Entries were also received from the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and Asia. Compositions originating from the competition have been performed throughout the world.

Piece Requirements

One of the requirements of the competition is that music has to be scored according to the established traditions of music notation. The original competition employed leading composers and educators throughout the United States in its judging panel and offered workshops in composition, music theory and music history.

These workshops attracted young musicians from throughout the United States. Many Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition alumni have moved into significant appointments in the music world, and alumni have attended or are attending significant music schools and universities. The National Repertory Orchestra, based in Breckenridge, performed an orchestral piece from the 2011 competition.

During the 17-year history, the Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition received more than 1,200 entries. Winning pieces were performed at annual Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition concerts. Many of these concerts were held at Packard Hall on the Colorado College campus in Colorado Springs, as well as other venues.

“There is an incredible excitement about hearing a piece of music for the first time — for the composer, as well as the performers and the audience,” Rhodes said.