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 is seeking composers/artists with works for full symphonic orchestra to be rehearsed, performed, and recorded by the American Composers Orchestra in New York, NY, offering selected participants the opportunity to collaborate with mentors including established orchestral composers, members of the American Composers Orchestra, and industry leaders. For over a generation, EarShot Readings (est. 2008) as well as ACO’s New Music Readings (‘Whitaker’ from 1993-2009, ‘Underwood’ from 2009-2020, ‘EarShot in NYC’ from 2022 onwards), have provided all-important career development and public exposure to the country’s most promising emerging composers, with over 350 composers participating. ACO is making this call for scores for recorded readings taking place June 1-2 in New York City. 

 The Next Festival of Emerging Artists is seeking scores for string orchestra. The Next Festival of Emerging Artists is a festival for early-career artists dedicated to the music of our time, fostering collaborative relationships, and creating 360°artists. The Next Festival orchestra is comprised of string players (ages 20-30) who are committed to collaborations with living composers. The Festival’s Composer Workshop will feature the rehearsal and recording of each Fellow’s submitted composition. Following the recording sessions, Fellows will also participate in a multi-disciplinary collaboration and improvisation session with choreographers and dancers that will combine each Fellow’s submitted composition with contemporary dance.  

The Next Festival of Emerging Artists Earshot Workshops foster collaborative relationships in a peer-to-peer setting, offering the opportunity for emerging composers to gain in-depth experience writing for and working with string orchestra musicians, while giving their performer peers the tools to master contemporary performance practice. This opportunity will also include collaboration with early career choreographers, creating artistic and collaborative synergy between the musical and dance arts. The Next Fest Orchestra is making this call for scores for workshops to be held on June 5-8, with final reading/recording sessions taking place June 8-9 in New York City.  

Click here for more information about The Next Festival of Emerging Artists 

Click here for a closer look at Next Fest Composer/Choreographer Workshops 

There is no application fee for either of these opportunities. Travel (up to $750) and local accommodations are provided. Featured artists will receive recordings of their works for both personal and professional use. 



Note: the same eligibility criteria apply to both the EarShot Readings with ACO and the EarShot Workshops with The Next Festival of Emerging Artists 

  • These programs are for 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 Session are ineligible. 
  • Applicants not previously selected are welcome to re-apply to EarShot with a new score. 
  • Applicants who have been sent a personal invitation may re-apply with the same score.   

Application Instructions

  • Composers may submit one work for consideration for The Next Festival of Emerging Artists and one work for consideration for the American Composers Orchestra call for scores. Composers may not submit multiple scores for either opportunity. 
  • Works that have been previously submitted to ACO for consideration may not be resubmitted unless requested by ACO. 
  • Works that have been previously read/performed by professional orchestras are only eligible for submission if the work has undergone major revisions. 
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length for ACO EarShot Readings, and 6-8 minutes in length for the Next Festival Workshops. A portion or movement from a longer work will be considered. 
  • Submitted works for the American Composers Orchestra EarShot Readings must not exceed standard American orchestral instrumentation (3333/4331/timp.3perc.piano/harp/strings). 
  • Submitted works for The Next Festival of Emerging Composers call for scores must be for string orchestra (max: 5/5/4/4/2). 
  • Compositions may not include voice, MIDI, digital technology, amplification, and/or sound reinforcement. 
  • Do not submit recordings. 
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will not be considered.   

Composers selected are responsible for delivering professional-quality score and parts; a printing stipend of $250 will be provided to offset costs.  

 Travel (up to $750 for international participants) and accommodations will be provided.  

Upcoming Deadlines

Before submitting an application, carefully review the eligibility and submission guidelines for each call. 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 is no application fee. 

American Composers Orchestra: EarShot New Music Readings 

American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Tito Muñoz (New York, NY) 

June 1-2, 2023 

The Next Festival of Emerging Artists: EarShot New Music Workshops 

Next Festival Orchestra, conducted by Peter Askim (New York, NY) 

June 5-9, 2023 

 Application Receipt Deadline: Friday, September 9, 2022 11:59 PM EST  

Selected Composer/Artist Notification: Friday, October 21, 2022 

If Selected

  • Composers/artists will be notified via email by October 21, 2022. Alternates will be invited to participate at a later date, 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 3 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 2-3 composers and ACO’s Artistic Director, Derek Bermel, who will in turn select a group of finalists. From these finalists, participants for ACO EarShot Readings will be selected by Maestro Tito Muñoz in collaboration with ACO staff. Next Festival EarShot Workshop participants will be selected by Next Festival Artistic Director, Peter Askim.  

Review panelists from the past four years include 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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