Apply to ACO EarShot

ACO Earshot

American Composers Orchestra seeks to identify and celebrate emerging American composers through its EarShot Readings program.

Each Reading typically includes two sessions with a professional orchestra, a working-rehearsal and a run-through performance. The performances are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for archival, study and portfolio purposes. Composers also participate in a series of professional development workshops covering such topics as promotion, score preparation, publishing, copyright agreements, and other career essentials.

Participant composers will work closely with a group of two or three mentor composers, a group that changes for each Reading. 

There is no application fee. Travel and accommodations are provided, and composers will receive a recording of their work for archival and study purposes.


  • Readings are for composers who have had fewer than 2 pieces performed by a professional orchestra. (College and festival orchestra performances do not apply.) 
  • Applicant must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing, or studying full-time, in the United States. 
  • We seek composers of all backgrounds, especially those whose gender identity, race, ethnicity, physical ability, neurodiversity, socio-economic status, and/or background has been historically or currently underrepresented in professional orchestral programming. 
  • There are no age restrictions; applicants should be composers at the early stages of their professional careers. 
  • Composers selected to participate in prior ACO EarShot, Underwood, or Whittaker New Music Reading Sessions are ineligible. 
  • Past applicants not previously selected are welcome to re-apply with a new and complete application, including score and all required background information.

Application Instructions

  • Each composer may submit only one composition for consideration. Works that have been previously submitted to ACO for consideration may not be resubmitted unless explicitly invited by ACO staff via email. 
  • Works may not have been performed or read by a professional orchestra; student and festival orchestras do not qualify as “professional.”
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work may also be considered. 
  • Instrumentation should not exceed the ACO’s standard symphonic complement: winds at; brass at; harp, piano, timpani plus 3 percussion, and strings. Doublings allowed: piccolo, bass clarinet, bass trombone, English horn, and contrabassoon. Composers should expect some re-orchestration will be requested upon acceptance.
  • Compositions may not include soloists, MIDI, digital technology, and/or sound reinforcement.
  • Electronics allowed; will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Do not submit recordings.
  • The quality of the score submitted is the primary evaluation criterion. It is therefore in the applicant’s best interest that the score be clear, accurate, and the best representation of the composer’s work. The additional background and educational information is for eligibility and documentation purposes; these materials are not considered in the general review of scores.
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will  not be considered.

    Composers selected are responsible for delivering professional-quality score and parts.  Travel and accommodations will be provided.

    Applicants must submit an electronic submission form, the orchestral score and resume. There is no application fee.

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.

Applications are now open for Tucson Symphony EarShot from May 17-21, 2022.

Application Deadline: October 25, 2021 at 11:59pm EST.

If Selected

  • Composers must be available and ready to attend reading sessions, feedback meetings and professional development workshops on the dates listed for the reading applied for. Necessary accommodations for physical disability and/or 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 agree to:  submit photos and sound clips for web use and a short biography for media purposes; to participate in blogging and social media to be videotaped/recorded for archival and promotional purposes; and to have their music recorded for archival and study purposes.

About Our Review & Selection Process

All scores are read by a panel of 3 composers from varying backgrounds, demographics, and styles. The panelists rate the scores numerically on criteria such as originality, technical proficiency, and orchestration. A reduced number are sent to a second panel of 2-3 mentor composers and ACO’s Artistic Director, who in turn select a group of finalists. From these finalists, the orchestra’s conductor and other artistic personnel determine participants for the readings. All panels change with each call for scores.

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, contact Aiden Feltkamp, Emerging Composers and Diversity Director: 212.977.8495 ext 252; or

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.

American Composer Orchestra
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