San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Conservatory of Music partner to announce The Emerging Black Composers Project



Ten composers to receive $15,000 commission, workshops and performances by the San Francisco Symphony or San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and mentorship from trio of Bay Area music directors: Michael Morgan, Edwin Outwater, and Esa-Pekka Salonen


First call for applications open now through December 31, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA —The San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Conservatory (SFCM) partner to announce The Emerging Black Composers Project, a new initiative to commission ten new works over the next ten years. Developed in partnership with SFCM’s President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, with artistic guidance from Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan, SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater, and SF Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, this initiative will foster the creation, workshop, and performance of new music from early-career Black American composers.
The first call for applications opens today and runs through December 31, 2020, with the world premiere performance of the first commission planned for the 2021–22 season. All applications will go through an anonymous review process, emulating blind auditions, so that gender, age, and other identifying data are concealed to eliminate unintentional bias. The review panel comprises composer and pianist Anthony Davis; singer and SFCM Roots, Jazz, and American Music faculty Carmen Bradford; conductor and Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Joseph Young; composer Germaine Franco; composer and SFCM Faculty Elinor Armer; and composer and conductor John Adams along with Morgan, Outwater, and Salonen. The first commission will be announced in Spring 2021.
“San Francisco Conservatory of Music is embarking on a series of ambitious projects designed to elevate Black voices and expand the American canon,” said SFCM President David H. Stull. “When Black talent is nurtured, we strengthen our culture of excellence, and we look forward to deepening the impact of The Emerging Black Composers Project through this partnership with the San Francisco Symphony.”
“The San Francisco Symphony is pleased to partner with our colleagues at the San Francisco Conservatory to maximize the value these commissions will bring to early-career Black American composers,” said San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson. “The SF Symphony acknowledges that our industry has a long history of excluding Black artists due to systemic racism, and that the work of Black composers often does not receive the exposure or prominence it deserves. We believe The Emerging Black Composers Project is a small step towards reducing some of the barriers these talented artists unjustly face in our field, and we look forward to performing and promoting these new works in future SF Symphony seasons.”
Each of the ten composers selected will receive a commissioning fee of $15,000 and artistic mentorship from Morgan, Outwater, and Salonen. Through workshops at the Conservatory, composers will hear, record, and revise their work over the course of several months before it receives its world premiere by either the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In addition to the commissioning fee, all associated recording fees, copyist fees, and travel expenses will be covered by the Conservatory. The Emerging Black Composers Project is made possible by Laurence and Michèle Corash, who pledged $250,000 to support this initiative.
How to Apply
All Black American composers (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) who have completed a degree program in composition or music performance, or have equivalent experience, are encouraged to apply. Applicants must submit a resume along with three scores and recordings of past or current compositions reflective of their work. The deadline for the first round of applications is December 31, 2020. For further information and to apply, visit .

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