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Lydia Western

Young Composer International Competitions for Full Orchestra

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Hi Guys,

I'm new. Where the heck can I enter a competition for beginner composers that allows for a FULL ORCHESTRA! I need something with an age restriction at least. I've got a pretty nice orchestral piece, but I've never put myself out there before and I'd like to have the benefit of my age and beginner status on my side for the first go.

I've looked everywhere and it's tough to find a competition for orchestra that focuses on early career composers. They're mainly for chamber orchestras. I'm from Australia BTW. Age 24.

I'd really love some help if you know anything. I don't care which country is hosting the competition (as long as it's international of course).

Thanks.

Lydia Western

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I normally write pieces especially for a specific competition / call for scores. Then I have a firm deadline and I am sure that the ensemble is able to play the piece with the instrumentation. 

I think it is pretty hard to deal with the criteria you have. What is the instrumentation of the piece? Full orchestra is too vague.

Check out the composers site. https://composerssite.com/

By the way, you can expect that you have to pay a fee in advance. Do not be shocked by that. 

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Thank you Maarten. Yes, I am familiar with the site. I have found a few orchestral competitions for younger composers.

I will probably have to wait until next year.

Piano, harp, violins I, violins 2, cellos 1, cellos 2, plucked bass, violin solo 1, violin solo 2, trumpet, flute, oboe, clarinet, panflute, snare drum, timpani, finger cymbals, crash cymbals, acoustic guitar (cubase mp3 below). Since you're the first person outside of my family to hear one of my songs, just do me a huge favour and listen through earphones. Thanks mister.

 

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Hi, 

I am going to be honest. Seeing the instrumentation, I personally think that you can search and wait very long without results for competitions that feature this specific ensemble. 

Firstly, the panflute, acoustic guitar, and plucked bass are not normal in symphonic orchestras, secondly the piano, harp and solo strings can also cause a problem in availability. 

I don't understand what you want with the strings. Do you mean this? 

Violin solo 1

Violin solo 2

Violins I

Violins II

No violas? 

Cellos div. in 1 & 2

Plucked bass is double bass? 

The music is nice and if you really want to use this piece as a commission for a competition you could either look for your own musicians, which will create loads of work for you, or arrange it for the instrumentation that competitions ask for. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, you deciphered that correctly.

I am entering a competition that I checked all my instruments with, and they said that all the instruments and the two extras (guitar and panflute) are "perfectly acceptable for the competition".

I have quite a long list of competitions that are very equipped for orchestra (including some for younger composers), but I'll be sure to check that everything is acceptable first.  I do also have a piece for piano, two violins, a cello and a flute which would be easier to find a competition for. I don't think I'm good enough to get a placement in anything, but I do love the idea of it. To be honest, I just wish for feedback. For someone to tell me whether I'm doing o.k for where I'm at; 5th try and never had a single line of advice from anyone. But I'm too scared to ask anyway for fear the answer will be horrendous. Anyway, thankyou for your advice. I wish you all the best for the future.

Layla tov

Edited by Lydia Western
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1 hour ago, Lydia Western said:

Yes, you deciphered that correctly.

I am entering a competition that I checked all my instruments with, and they said that all the instruments and the two extras (guitar and panflute) are "perfectly acceptable for the competition".

I have quite a long list of competitions that are very equipped for orchestra (including some for younger composers), but I'll be sure to check that everything is acceptable first.  I do also have a piece for piano, two violins, a cello and a flute which would be easier to find a competition for. I don't think I'm good enough to get a placement in anything, but I do love the idea of it. To be honest, I just wish for feedback. For someone to tell me whether I'm doing o.k for where I'm at; 5th try and never had a single line of advice from anyone. But I'm too scared to ask anyway for fear the answer will be horrendous. Anyway, thankyou for your advice. I wish you all the best for the future.

Layla tov

 

Good that you found a possibility. 

Your doubts about your music are completely understandable. Everybody, even professional composers are still unsure about their music. 

So let this not prevent you from asking for feedback, because feedback can teach you even more than learning just rules and theory and applying it. 

This website is meant to give and receive feedback, so you are at the right place. I do recommend to upload the scores next to the audio. 

Best wishes back! 

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O.K, thankyou for that.

I uploaded the pdf.

I've never been taught rules or theory about composition. I should probably learn to compose sometime.

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6 hours ago, Lydia Western said:

Piano, harp, violins I, violins 2, cellos 1, cellos 2, plucked bass, violin solo 1, violin solo 2, trumpet, flute, oboe, clarinet, panflute, snare drum, timpani, finger cymbals, crash cymbals, acoustic guitar (cubase mp3 below).

Beautiful piece you've written there, Lydia! It reminded me of the Jewish national song, Hatikvah, which I've always found to be very stirring. It would be nice, however, to see the score... 👍

As to the orchestration, I have a few comments. First, I can never forgive you for omitting the entire viola section! That's highly irregular, you know. (I'm a violist, in case you couldn't guess.) Seriously, though, do you have a personal vendetta against violists or just don't know how to use their chocolatey middle voice? Second, the panflute doesn't do anything until the last 60 seconds of the piece; I would get rid of it and replace with the non-panflute (or another orchestral voice you didn't use—maybe the violas?). The piano, too, didn't seem to do anything until the end of the piece. The overall feel I got was that of a piecemeal of different orchestral voices—almost like a concerto grosso. Some instruments provided the accompaniment the whole time, while others only played when showpieced.

Orchestrating is like casting for a movie; you want your players to get in on the action often and early UNLESS there's a musical element exclusively requiring an instrument that ABSOLUTELY CANNOT be compromised. In longer pieces (like symphonies) you can get away with saving instruments for special moments. But in a piece as short as this one, it may not be worth a pianist's while, for example, to sit through rehearsal after rehearsal only to play in the last 60 seconds of a piece. I don't think you want to be known as "that" composer who values her own musical ideas more than the enjoyment of those actually playing her pieces.

I'm sorry if this comes across as harsh; I'm just trying to helpful and honest. What you've written is refreshingly good and musically sound! The orchestration is a little wonky but much of that is personal opinion anyway. The good news is you have a gift for lyrical, moving melodies that comes directly from the heart—no amount of music theory can teach you that! I understand you're probably new to the composing scene but I sense a TON of potential here, so I hope you'll keep it up! If you haven't already, try analyzing some orchestral scores of great composers. Many are available for free at imslp.com. 

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Posted (edited)

Thankyou mister (or misses). Good thoughts, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment thoroughly like that.

Below is the vocal version, and I've uploaded the PDF.

But once again, listen with earphones or something.

Yes, I've not had anyone teach me anything. Absolutely nothing. Maybe I can learn to compose one day with someone.

I almost forgot...Really, are some instruments (like violas) meant to be in a certain group of instruments? I don't really know what an orchestra is or an ensemble or any of those groups, except that an orchestra is very big.

Edited by Lydia Western
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Oh, I guess I just realized this was a vocal song, not an orchestral one. In that case, you can get away with "piecemealing" the instruments.

Also, I listened to the vocal file and it was hauntingly gorgeous, And it looks like my guess that it was informed by a Jewish song wasn't too far off—beautiful Hebrew lyrics in there! It sounds like you're pretty talented; I'll bet you could teach yourself all the music theory and orchestration you'd need.

Awesome job!

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Thankyou. That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my music.

Of course, the only people who have heard it is my family and a few close friends (and you).

I almost forgot...Really, are some instruments (like violas) meant to be in a certain group of instruments? I don't really know what an orchestra is or an ensemble or any of those groups, except that an orchestra is very big.

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3 minutes ago, Lydia Western said:

I almost forgot...Really, are some instruments (like violas) meant to be in a certain group of instruments? I don't really know what an orchestra is or an ensemble or any of those groups, except that an orchestra is very big.

 

A string section is violin I and violin II, violas, cellos, and double basses. But I think if you'd check out some orchestral scores you'd become heaps better. Here's a familiar one (Beethoven's fifth symphony): http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/9/9a/IMSLP575951-PMLP1586-Beethoven_-_Symphony_No_5_in_C_Minor,_Op_67_-_I_-_Allegro_con_brio_(etc).pdf I think you'll be surprised at how "small" the orchestra is in this work for creating such a big sound!

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I hope you'll permit me to indulge myself with one more question. For my 5th go at trying to orchestrate something, is it o.k? Or would you expect that I'd be doing better by now?

It's just that I've never had the opportunity to ask anyone this, and it helps sometimes to know where you are at before moving forward again. I know I've got lots of issues I'm sure and I don't know so many things as other people. I'm just a baby though, and wondering if I'm taking my first steps o.k. That's all.

I'm a 24 year old, living in rural Australia. I'm number 8 in a line of 9 children. Up until now, it's just been me with my piano and a computer.

It's really late here.

Goodnight

P.S. I'm curious to know how long you've been composing music for and what you do. If that's o.k. I don't doubt you're advice. I'm just curious, that's all.

Thanks mister (or misses). I expect that you're a sanguine temperament with a mix of melancholy.  A person of two extremes. Likes to be with people, but loves some solitude too. Could be wrong. Just guessing. I like guessing.

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3 minutes ago, Lydia Western said:

I hope you'll permit me to indulge myself with one more question. For my 5th go at trying to orchestrate something, is it o.k? Or would you expect that I'd be doing better by now?

It's just that I've never had the opportunity to ask anyone this, and it helps sometimes to know where you are at before moving forward again. I know I've got lots of issues I'm sure and I don't know so many things as other people. I'm just a baby though, and wondering if I'm taking my first steps o.k. That's all.

I'm a 24 year old, living in rural Australia. I'm number 8 in a line of 9 children. Up until now, it's just been me with my piano and a computer.

It's really late here.

Goodnight

P.S. I'm curious to know how long you've been composing music for and what you do. If that's o.k. I don't doubt you're advice. I'm just curious, that's all.

Thanks mister (or misses). I expect that you're a sanguine temperament with a mix of melancholy.  A person of two extremes. Likes to be with people, but loves some solitude too. Could be wrong. Just guessing. I like guessing.

 

It's mister lol.

For a fifth go at it, yes, I'd say you're ahead of the curve! (Just my opinion, of course.) Most of your "errors" just came about because of a lack of exposure to the material. You obviously have musical talent!

I've been composing music off and on for around 15 or 20 years. However, large swaths of that time I was in undergraduate and then graduate school and then residency (I'm a pharmacist by training, to answer your second question), so composing took a backseat. All of my musical training has been self-inflicted, as well. But I've spent countless hours poring over the compositions of the "greats"—in other words, composers whose works I liked to listen to. I picked out the musical elements that tickled my ear and saw what they looked like on paper. Over the years, this builds up and greatly informs your inner musical "generator." As you do this, you'll be surprised at how much in your head you can actually put down note for note. This has been my case, at least.

Phenomenal guess on the temperament! In Myers-Briggs terms, I'm an INFJ... probably more melancholic than sanguine, but definitely both.

Have a great night of sleep down under!

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Posted (edited)

Sorry I haven't replied to this. I was busy with my head in cubase and finale.

I needed to comment that I forgot to mention that I figured you were more melancholy with a sanguine backup. So maybe my guess wasn't all that bad. I've never done that test. I'll do it now and see what I come out as. I wonder what is the common temperament for musicians. Certainly a lot have a strong introverted side.

I listened to some of your songs. Very clever. I actually prefer it when songs aren't packed with instruments. I need to learn to see the bigger picture. I've actually never sat down and thought "right, I'm going to write a romantic piece with tons of "lushes strings" as you put it" (you have such a way with words by the way). "Hauntingly gorgeous" - I mean, what a description! It's not deserving for my singing of course but it made me laugh and I appreciated it. If the right guy is smart enough one day to describe me that way, I'd probably faint (and that'd be fairly easy since I have POTS). Anyway, my songs have all been songs actually. A lot of them were written for people. One man was dying so that was the first song I wrote. The next song was for his widow. The next song was for his son. The one after that was for a Jewish doctor/surgeon who I really love because he is really nice to me but also because he helped me get diagnosed with POTS and is still helping me investigate my needs (he's trying to find out if there's a safe trial medication to turn the NET gene back on). And so on.

I normally listen to and analyze a song or a few songs that I want to learn from, and then I mix them up in my soul and pull them out again. This last one I listened to two theme songs from Defiance (about Jewish survivors in WW2), and then the theme for The Black Stallion Returns. It's nothing like their brilliance of course, but I really did try.

Have a good sleep.

...I'm INFP (mediator). Very much so.

Edited by Lydia Western
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