Thursday, November 2, 2017

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra accepting applications for 2018 NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute

Six-day program will give participating composers musical- and career-development experience
Institute includes sessions with Institute Director Steven Mackey, conductor David Robertson (PHOTO/Kevin Saunders), NJSO musicians and industry leaders
NJSO to perform participants’ works

Presented in collaboration with the Princeton University Department of Music, funded in part by Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University

July 9–14 at Princeton University
Application deadline is Feb 2

The application process is now open for the 2018 NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, a multifaceted program that promotes new music and emerging composers. The Institute will select four composers to participate in intense compositional evaluations, consultations, rehearsals and career-enrichment sessions July 9–14 on the Princeton University campus. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will perform the participants’ works on Saturday, July 14, at 8 pm at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.

Emerging composers—university composition students or composers in the early stages of their professional careers—must submit completed applications by February 2. Four composers will be identified to participate in the Institute by March 15. The application form and details are available at

By the conclusion of the Institute’s immersive laboratory experience, participants will have gained invaluable musical and practical feedback about writing for orchestra and how to get their music published and performed. Composers will hear their works in rehearsal and performance and will participate in masterclasses with Institute Director and lauded composer Steven Mackey; they will receive feedback from NJSO musicians and guest conductor David Robertson, who returns to the Institute after conducting and mentoring composers at the 2016 session. The Institute will also provide career-development opportunities with industry leaders.

“The Cone Institute is really unique,” Mackey says. “It provides a lot of time for the students to work with the orchestra. I think what separates the Cone Institute from many of its peer opportunities is its holistic vision of the composer and [the way we help] composers build their careers so their music is heard. There are sessions with industry leaders, publishers and radio stations [about practical topics] that will be important for a composer’s career.”

2017 Cone Institute composer Alyssa Weinberg says: “There’s so much value in this program. Nowhere else in my time writing have I had such an extended period of not just rehearsal time but time to workshop [a piece]. There was actually time built into [the Institute] for revisions—time to meet with [Mackey and] the conductor, make those changes and really elevate your piece to the next level. Any orchestral experience is valuable, no matter what, but this one is truly unique in how much time we have to work on our pieces in a very gradual and deliberate manner throughout the week leading up to the concert.”

Composer Sam Lipman cites last summer’s sessions with industry leaders like Boosey & Hawkes, New Music USA and WQXR’s Q2 Music as “career opportunities that you wouldn’t get in the space or two or three years, let alone one week. [Meetings like] the advising session from the orchestra are exceptional experiences that are going to give you an edge.”

The Times of Trenton praises the multidimensional experience the Institute provides for participants: “For four composers at the beginning of their careers, the institute is an invaluable experience – six days of intensive evaluations and consultations, culminating in a live performance of their music by a major symphony orchestra under a world-class conductor … What is especially valuable about the institute is that the lessons learned will extend far beyond advice on simple technique, delving into the actual business side of what it means to be a composer, including information on rehearsal protocol, publishing and promotion.”

Sessions will include small group gatherings with Institute faculty, NJSO musicians and NJSO staff to discuss applications and variations on the possible versus the practical in composition; one-on-one and group coaching sessions with Mackey; seminars with industry leaders to broaden awareness of current practices in publishing, licensing, promotion and music preparation; in-studio interviews with Q2 Music and the opportunity to strengthen personal presentation and networking skills.

The Institute is tuition-free; housing on the campus of Princeton University and on-campus meals will be provided.

The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute grew out of reading sessions the Orchestra has held with Princeton University graduate students biennially for more than a decade. The Institute celebrates its namesake Cone’s legacy as both a composer and a Princeton University professor.

WQXR’s Q2 Music has partnered with the NJSO to broadcast the first four Institute concerts. The concerts are available to stream at

A collaboration between the NJSO and Princeton University Department of Music, the Institute is generously funded in part by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.

Applications will be accepted from emerging composers who must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully residing in the United States. Applicants must currently be university composition students or in the early stages of their professional careers. Applicants must be at least 18 years old on or before July 1, 2018.

Participating composers will be selected through competitive application by a panel administered by the NJSO. The criteria for participation will be the panel’s assessment of the composer’s invention and creativity in the orchestral medium, as well as a demonstrated understanding of the technical/practical requirements of the medium. Final decisions will be made by Steven Mackey and David Robertson.

Composers who have participated in previous Institutes may not reapply. Previous applicants may resubmit works previously entered or reapply with a different work.

Complete applications with all required supporting materials must be received by February 2, 2018. Applicants will be notified of their status by March 15, 2018.

A full list of application requirements, deadlines and other information, including a link to the application form, are available at

For more information, contact Alexandra Black, NJSO Artistic Operations Coordinator, at or 973.735.1740.

Major underwriting support for the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is generously provided by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.

Steven Mackey, Institute Director
Steven Mackey was born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and opera. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and 90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music, and he regularly performs his own works, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

Mackey’s music has been performed by leading musical institutions throughout the world, including the Los Angeles, BBC and New York philharmonics; San Francisco and Chicago symphonies; Philadelphia and Concertgebouw orchestras and Brentano, Kronos and Arditti string quartets, among others. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award in 2012 for his album Lonely Motel: Music from Slide.

David Robertson, conductor (TOP PHOTO)
David Robertson—conductor, artist, thinker and American musical visionary—occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene. A highly sought-after podium figure in the worlds of opera, orchestral music and new music, Robertson is celebrated worldwide as a champion of contemporary composers, an ingenious and adventurous programmer and a masterful communicator whose passionate advocacy for the art form is widely recognized. A consummate and deeply collaborative musician, Robertson is hailed for his intensely committed music making.

2017–18 is Robertson’s valedictory season as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and his fifth season as chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He has served as artistic leader to many musical institutions, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon, and, as a protégé of Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He has frequent projects at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, Théâtre du Châtelet, San Francisco Opera and more.

During his 13-year tenure with the SLSO, Robertson has solidified the orchestra’s standing as one of the nation’s most enduring and innovative. His established and fruitful relationships with artists across a wide spectrum is evidenced by the orchestra’s ongoing collaboration with composer John Adams. The 2014 release of City Noir (Nonesuch Records)—comprising works by Adams performed by the SLSO with Robertson—won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Robertson is the recipient of numerous musical and artistic awards; in 2010, he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

He is devoted to supporting young musicians and has worked with students at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood and Lucerne and at the Paris Conservatoire, the Juilliard School, Music Academy of the West and National Orchestra Institute. In 2014, he led the coast-to-coast US tour of the National Youth Orchestra of Carnegie Hall.


Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People, NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide.

For more information about the NJSO, visit or email Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

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