Apply to ACO EarShot

ACO Earshot

EarShot is a program of the American Composers Orchestra, in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, American Composers Forum, and New Music USA. Over the past 10 years the program has initiated dozens of composer/orchestra/conductor relationships across the country offering opportunities to more than 100 composers. In 2016, ACO launched a composer archive of past EarShot compositions as a resource to the field. Orchestras across the country and around the world rely on EarShot to identify and connect with creative artists, as well as to advise on commissions, competitions, and program design.

The American Composers Orchestra, as well as ACO’s partner orchestras, offer selected participants the opportunity to collaborate with mentors consisting of both established orchestral composers and industry leaders through the EarShot Readings program. ACO and its partner orchestras aim to align these readings with their existing programmatic, community engagement, and DEI goals and initiatives; specific eligibility parameters (outside of the requirement of being a composer with fewer than 3 professional performances) are created by the host orchestras in collaboration with ACO. 

There is no application fee for EarShot Readings. Additionally, travel (up to $700) and local accommodations are provided for the selected composers. Those selected also receive recordings of their works for personal and/or professional use.



  • These opportunities are for composers/artists who have had 2 or fewer pieces performed by a professional orchestra (30+ players). College and festival orchestra performances do not count toward the number of pieces “performed by a professional orchestra.”
  • U.S. applicants must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing or studying full-time in the United States. DACA recipients are eligible to apply. Mexican, Canadian, Central American, and South American applicants must be a citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing or studying full-time in their respective countries.
  • There are no age restrictions; applicants should be composers/artists at the early stages of their professional orchestral careers.
  • Composers selected to participate in any previous EarShot Reading are ineligible
  • Applicants not previously selected are welcome to re-apply.

Application Instructions

  • Applicants may submit one work for these opportunities. Applicants may not submit multiple scores.
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work will be considered.
  • Submitted works must meet the orchestration parameters as outlined by the host orchestra.
  • Compositions that include MIDI, digital technology, amplification, and/or sound reinforcement are only considered by request of the host orchestra.
  • Concertos and vocal works are ineligible for EarShot Readings.
  • Recordings of works (MIDI or otherwise) are not accepted or considered in the judging process. 
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications are not considered. 
  • Composers selected are responsible for delivering professional-quality score and parts; a printing stipend of $200 will be provided to offset costs.

Upcoming Deadlines

Before submitting an application, carefully review the eligibility and submission guidelines. A complete submission must include the following:

  • A completed online submission form.
  • A PDF of the score clearly labeled with the composer’s name and title of the work on the cover page.

There are no upcoming deadlines at this time.

If Selected

    • Composers/artists will be notified via email by February 17, 2023. Alternates will be invited to participate as needed.
    • Composers must be available and ready to attend the required reading sessions, feedback meetings and professional development workshops. Childcare and/or accommodations for physical disability and neurodiversity will be provided upon request.
    • Composers must provide professional, legible orchestral parts and scores prepared according to guidelines established by the Major Orchestral Librarians Association. Materials for the first reading session must be delivered no later than 45 days before the reading session for which they have been selected.
    • Composers must submit self-portraits/headshots and a short biography for media purposes.  
    • Composers must agree to be videotaped/audio recorded for archival and promotional purposes, and to have their music recorded for archival and study purposes.

About Our Review & Selection Process

Scores are reviewed by a panel of composers representing various backgrounds, demographics, and musical styles. Panelists rate the scores numerically on criteria including originality, technical proficiency, and orchestration. Selected scores will advance to a second round of panelists comprised of ACO artistic staff, who will in turn select a group of finalists. From these finalists, participants for each opportunity will be selected by the artistic staff of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic, respectively. 

Review panelists from the past four years include Shawn Okpebholo, Michi Wiancko, Kathryn Alexander, David Biedenbender, Lisa Bielawa, Chen Yi, Anthony Cheung, Rob Deemer, Man Fang, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jimmy Lopez, Eric Nathan, Clint Needham, Gabriela Ortiz, Elizabeth Ogonek, Kate Soper, Ken Ueno, Dan Visconti, Wang Jie, Wang Lu, Xi Wang, Trevor Weston, and Lidiya Yankovskaya.

Questions & Information

For questions or comments on EarShot or the call for scores, please contact Garrett McQueen, Director of Artist Equity: 


Our Mission & Vision

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

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