Apply to be our 2018 Composer in residence


Call for Applications: Composer in Residence, 2017-2018

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Bard Music West is pleased to announce our second commissioning project! The selected composer will be Composer in Residence at Bard Music West 2018 and will be commissioned to write a new work of music for dance inspired by the collaboration between Henry Cowell and Martha Graham (please see “About the Project”). The chosen composer will work with SFDanceworks  (director: James Sofranko, soloist, San Francisco Ballet).  The premiere will take place at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco on April 7, 2018.

The composer’s residency at Bard Music West will include rehearsals with dancers and musicians, a pre-performance interview, and a performance of the commissioned piece, as well as attendance at all other festival events. The premiere will be video and audio recorded, and the recording will be available for the composer’s use post-performance. After the premiere, all performance, copyright, and royalty rights to the music will remain with the composer, with the condition that the piece may be performed in its full form (with dance) for 2 years following the premiere by SFDanceworks, which retains the rights to the choreography. One composer will be selected, but all scores and proposals will be considered by the selection committee in a blind first round.



This call for applications is open to all composers regardless of age, nationality, or performance history. Composers will ideally be available for festival residency in San Francisco April 2-7, 2018.


Commission Fee

The selected composer will receive a commission fee of $2500 paid by the performance date. If the selected composer resides outside the San Francisco Bay Area, the festival will cover up to $500 in transportation costs to San Francisco in addition to housing, per diem, and local transportation within San Francisco for the duration of the composer’s residency.


Important Dates

Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2017

Composer selected and notified by October 1, 2017

Initial draft of score due to SFDanceworks: January 1, 2018

Due date for finished score: February 9, 2018

Date of performance: April 7, 2018


Submission Guidelines

To apply, please email Laura Gaynon at with the following materials (IMPORTANT: applicants must redact all personal identifying information from scores and audio samples, including your name, dedication, institutional affiliation, and premiere dates):

1.     Two relevant samples of past work. Please submit PDF scores and recordings for each work. Mp3 files only.      

o   Please name mp3 files as follows: [work title].mp3. Example: Aeolian Harp.mp3.

2.     A detailed description of your proposed composition including concept and instrumentation. The description should include:

o   Instrumentation. Must be solo or chamber ensemble (up to 4 musicians, may include voice).

o   Musical, structural, and conceptual ideas for the work. Please note that the composition must be approximately 15-20 minutes in length.

3.     Bio and/or CV (PDF). Please name PDF file as follows: [last name]-Bio.pdf. Example: Cowell-Bio.pdf

4.     Your name, email, phone number, and location of primary residence in the body of the email.


About the Project

In homage to Cowell’s fruitful and extended collaboration with dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, we are asking composers to submit ideas for a collaborative work for music and dance. Through their work, Cowell and Graham attempted to answer the question of what Cowell called “the problematic relationship between dance and music.” He believed that music and dance could not exist simultaneously in their highest form without one detracting from the other. He sought to solve this problem by composing music that intertwined with the choreography, such that each had its own periods of prominence. This project is in part inspired by Cowell and Graham’s unrealized work, Synchrony, which was meant to be a symbiotic piece for dance, music, and light. It was never completed as such, but Cowell developed the music into a stand-alone orchestral work.

The composer will work with an SFDanceworks choreographer to develop a new work for music and dance of approximately 15-20 minutes in length. They may either work in the collaborative style of Cowell and Graham’s unrealized Synchrony, or invent their own unique approach to Cowell’s question.


About Bard Music West

Bard Music West is a San Francisco-based music festival that explores the world of one 20th-century or contemporary composer each year, delving into the composer’s inspirations and influence on others. Devoted to inspiring a deep connection with the music of our time, programs and events present the composer’s work in context, crossing musical genres, time periods, and artistic disciplines. Called “a rich inaugural season” by the San Francisco Classical Voice, The World of György Ligeti took place in March 2017 in San Francisco. On April 6 and 7, 2018, Bard Music West presents its second season focusing on the revolutionary music and ideas of Henry Cowell, the Bay Area composer who inspired a generation of musicians. For more information, please check the festival website at


About SFDanceworks

SFDanceworks is a repertory company dedicated to the past, present, and future of dance as an art form through high quality live performance. SFDanceworks aims to present the choreography of dance masters and current established artists, as well as commissioned work. SFDanceworks was founded in 2014 by James Sofranko, soloist dancer with the San Francisco Ballet.