Young Composers Competition


Sponsored by Arden and Harry Fisher

2015-16 YCC WinnersSince 2004, the Young Composers Competition has recognized and encouraged the efforts of those between the ages of 12 and 21 who are involved in the creative process of composing music.  This program, unique to the St. Louis region, is an open competition which has received submissions from St. Louis and throughout the nation.  Each year brings a new nationally known guest composer who is passionate about working with future generations of composers. Past guest composers have included Claude Baker, Zack Browning, John Cheetham, Dino Constantinides, Steven Dankner, Beth Denisch, Don Freund, Lansing McLoskey, James Mobberly, Shulamit Ran, Jared Spears, and Chen Yi.  

Awardees have their works performed by professional musicians in a public concert that is professionally recorded. Each awardee receives a written critique of his/her work and a conference with the guest composer.

2016-17 Winners

Young composers from the United States, Canada, England, and Italy sent in compelling works for consideration for the 2016-17 competition.  Our judges were extremely impressed with the quality of the works.  Congratulations to the 2016-17 Winners:

Level One (12-16 years of age):
1st Place: Stella G. Willoughby from Cambridge, MA, for Structurae Modorum
2nd Place: Li Chibing from Beijing, China, for Rivulet in Mountains
Honorable Mention: Andrew Courtney from Corona del Mar, CA, for Movement for String Quartet

Level Two (17-21 years of age): 
1st Place: Alex Williams from Kansas City, MO, for Visions and Fantasy
Lucy McKnight from Los Angeles, CA, for Misery made me a fiend
Honorable Mention: Shiwei Liu from Shanghai, China, for Twins for Two Violins

With the CMS Young Composers Competition growing to international status, we have decided to name a “Best from St. Louis” composer to recognize and encourage a deserving local St. Louis young composer. This year, Zach Fendelman of St. Louis will be recognized as the Best from St. Louis for the 2016-2017 Young Composers Competition.



 Saturday, March 25, 2017
10 a.m. - Workshop on School and Project Funding with guest composer, Elizabeth Ogonek, Oberlin Conservatory.  Dr. Ogonek has been very successful in finding resources to help support her work and education.  Advice will be shared on how to identify these resources.  
12:30 p.m. - Workshop "Presenting the Score - Guidelines and Best Practices for Preparing Beautiful Scores and Parts" with David Werfelmann, Webster University.  In this presentation, Dr. Werfelmann will show students how to make their music look stunning.  Drawing on resources such as the score preparation guidelines provided by the Major Orchestra Librarians' Association, Dr. Werfelmann will demonstrate the best practices for score presentation so that you can communicate your compositional vision clearly and precisely.  

Emerging Composers Concert:  
Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 3 p.m. featuring winning works from the 2016-17 Young Composers Competition performed by some of St. Louis' premiere musicians. 

All events are open to the public.  At the CMS Center, 535 Garden Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119

2016-17 Guest Composer 
Elizabeth Ogonek 

Elizabeth OgonekComposer Elizabeth Ogonek strives to create music that is energetic, dramatic, vivid, and colorful. Often inspired by text, her work explores the transference of words and poetic imagery to music. The nature of her interests has led to several collaborations with emerging writers including Sophia Veltfort, Ghazal Mosadeq, and Jonathan Dubow. Collaborative projects include her Three Pieces for guitar and narrator, which received its premiere at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court Theatre in April 2014; Three Biographies, a song cycle for countertenor and cello, which was premiered at Wigmore Hall in May 2014; and a 10-minute adaptation of Dubow’s full-length play The Mysteries of Jacob, for narrator and clarinet, which was premiered by members of Explore Ensemble and soprano Sophie Wingland at the Royal College of Music in January 2014. Ogonek has also worked extensively with Indian poet Ralph Nazareth to set both his work and the work of his poetry students at Green Haven Correctional Facility.

Recent and upcoming commissions include works for the London Symphony Orchestra and François-Xavier Roth, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Fulcrum Point New Music Project for the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago. Past commissions include works for Ensemble 360, the Flux Quartet, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and the Brillaner Duo. Other highlights include performances by the Tanglewood Fromm Players, Tim Munro, formerly of eighth blackbird, the Britten-Pears Ensemble at the Aldeburgh Festival, Dinosaur Annex, and the Wellesley Sinfonietta with Miranda Cuckson.

Ogonek is the recipient of awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Indiana University, the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Royal Philharmonic Society. Her graduate education was supported by the Beinecke Foundation and the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. She has received fellowships to attend the Wellesley Composers’ Conference and the Tanglewood Music Center. In 2013, she was a Young Composer in Residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and in 2015 she was in residence at MacDowell Colony.

Born in 1989 in Anoka, Minnesota, and raised in New York City, Ogonek began studying music in the Preparatory Division at Manhattan School of Music. Her primary teachers have included Matthew Van Brink, Don Freund, Claude Baker, Michael Gandolfi, Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke, and Julian Anderson. She has received further mentorship from Samuel Adler, Derek Bermel, John Harbison, Oliver Knussen, and Colin Matthews. She holds degrees from Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music (BM, 2009), the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music (MM, 2012), and Guildhall School of Music and Drama (DMus, 2015). She is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at Oberlin College and Conservatory and a Mead Composer in Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 


Past Young Composer Competition Winners and Guest Composers:

Guest Composer:  Dr. Claude Baker
Level 1
First Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters, MO
Second Place: Andy Oster, Festus, MO
Level 2
First Place: Daniel Godsil, St. Louis, MO
Second Place: Michael Dunsmoor, O’Fallon, MO 

Guest Composer:  Dr. John Cheetham
Level 1
First Place: Yan Zhu, Brentwood, MO
Second Place: Jack Popper, St. Louis, MO
Honorable Mention: Charlie Capps, St. Louis, MO
Level 2
First Place: Louis Goldford, Ballwin, MO
Second Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters, MO
Honorable Mention: Daniel Winfield, St. Charles, MO

Guest Composer:  Dr. James Mobberley
Level 1
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, VA
Second Place: Yan ZhuBrentwood, MO
Honorable Mention: Gabriel Maichel, St. Louis, MO 
Level 2
First Place: Elizabeth Lim, Cambridge, MA
Second Place: Timothy Eshing, Maryland Heights, MO
Honorable Mention: Adam Schumaker, Elsah, IL

Guest Composer:  Dr. Jared Spears
Level 1
First Place: Yan Zhu, Brentwood, MO
Second Place: Gabriel Maichel, St. Louis, MO
Honorable Mention: Cole Perkinson, Portland, OR and
Jack Hughes, Reston, VA
Level 2
First Place: Daniel Winfield, O’Fallon, MO
Second Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters, MO
Honorable Mention: William Bryant,  Murphysboro, IL and
Matthew Mendez, Cambridge, MA

Guest Composer:  Dr. Dinos Constantinides
Level 1
First Place: Cole Perkinson, Portland, OR
Second Place: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, WA
Honorable Mention: Ian Evans Guthrie, Washougal, WA
Level 2
First Place: Kristen Walker, Liberty, MO
Second Place: William Bryant, Murphysboro, IL
Honorable Mention: Marta Sofia Botelho Vieira, Evanston, IL/Portugal 

Guest Composer:  Dr. Chen Yi
Level 1
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, VA
Second Place: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, WA
Honorable Mention: Sam Reising, Portland, OR
Level 2
First Place: Anthony Hernandez, Columbia, MO
Second Place: Lauren Wells, Kansas City, MO
Honorable Mention: Cole Perkinson, Portland, OR

Guest Composer:  Shulamit Ran
Level 1
First Place: Alexis Lerner, Upper Saddle River, NJ
Second Place: Andrew Stock, St. Louis, MO 
Honorable Mention: Jared W. Hedges, Lindenhurst, IL and
Sidarth Jayadev, Saratoga, CA
Level 2
Co-First Place: Daniel McCallum, London, UK and
Mahlon Berv, Stamford, CT
Honorable Mention: Alexander Blank, Rock Hill, MO  and Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, WA

Guest Composer:  Dr. Stephen Dankner
Level 1
First Place: Ari Korotkin, Birmingham, MI
Second Place: Eleanor Bragg, Brookline, MA
Honorable Mention: Michael Parsons, Stirling, NJ and 
Felix Jarrar, Bridgeport, CT
Level 2
First Place: Thomas Feng, Fremont, CA 
Second Place: Wesley Devore, Centennial, CO
Honorable Mention: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, WA

Guest Composer:  Dr. Zack Browning 
Level 1
First Place: Michael Parsons, Stirling, NJ
Second Place: Stuart Ross Carlson, Dexter, MI
Level 2
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, VA
Second Place: Wesley Devore, Centennial, CO

Guest Composer:  Dr. Beth Denisch 
Level 1
First Place: Joseph Jordan, New York City, NY
Second Place (tie): Molly Monahan, Holland, MI and Paul Novak, Reno, NV
Level 2
First Place: Cooper Minnis, St. Louis, MO
Second Place: Gus Knobbe, St. Louis, MO

Guest composer:  Dr. Don Freund
Level 1
First Place:  Paul Novak, Reno, NV
Second Place:  Julia Riew, St. Louis, MO
Honorable Mention:  Molly MonahanHolland, MI
Level 2
First Place:  Erin Hoerchler, Jefferson City, MO
Second Place:  Gus Knobbe, St. Louis, MO
Honorable Mention:  Kelly Stathis, Poughquag, NY

Guest composer:  Dr. Lansing McLoskey
Level 1
First Place: Simon Cohen, Chicago, IL 
Second Place: Stella Gitelman Willoughby, Cambridge, MA
Level 2
First Place: Alex Berko, Solon, OH
Second Place: Alex Williams, Columbia, MO

 Questions? Call (314) 968-5939 or email Justin Blackburn at