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Open call for work by young Saskatchewan composers

SYO Inc. posted on Monday, February 1, 2016 3:30 PM

Saskatoon Youth Orchestra Composition Competition

Open Call for work by young Saskatchewan composers

Compositions must be post-marked by July 31st, 2016 in order to be considered.

Following the success of its first composition competition in 2014, The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra (SYO) Inc, SYO Music Director and special guest adjudicators are inviting young Saskatchewan composers to submit a work for possible inclusion in an SYO concert. The winning piece will be performed by the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra in their 2017-2018 concert season.  The SYO wants to promote the creation of original orchestral work by young Saskatchewan composers.  We may also host a reading session of selected submissions that receive an honourable mention.

Open to Saskatchewan composers up to the age of 26 as of the submission deadline.

Submissions should be 5-7 minutes in length and should not exceed the instrumentation: 2* 2* 2 2 | 4 3 3 1 | timpani + 2 | strings and must include a minimum instrumentation of 2 2 2 2 | 2 2 2 1| timpani +1 | strings.  Instrumentation or duration above or below this will not be considered.  Please note that enrolment of the SYO varies by year.  The orchestra is often larger than the stated maximum instrumentation; however, these numbers ensure that it will be possible to perform a winning submission.  

Compositions should be submitted with the composer's name clearly indicated. In order to be considered, submissions must include the following:

- 4 hard copies of the orchestral score

- 1 audio recording as an audio file or in CD format (must send 4 CDs)

- Instrumentation list (including a percussion list)

- Composer's date of birth and contact information

- Duration of piece

- Indication of whether the score is transposing or at concert pitch


Submissions not meeting all stated criteria will be disqualified.

The composer of the selected work will receive a $500 honorarium, and an archival recording of the performance.

Please mail your submission to:

Saskatoon Youth Orchestra P.O. Box 21108 Saskatoon, SK CANADA S7H 5N9



Open Call FAQ

Who will see my submitted work? Scores will be reviewed by the SYO Music Director, guest adjudicators and the SYO Faculty.


May I include auxiliary orchestral instruments (contrabassoon, English horn, etc) in my composition?

The SYO has reliable access to an English horn and piccolo, but please refrain from other auxiliary instruments (contrabassoon, Eb clarinet, etc)


May I include non-orchestral instruments in my composition? Submissions may not include non-orchestral instruments.

May I submit a composition that has been previously performed by another orchestral ensemble? Given the mission of the SYO call for work to promote new creations by Saskatchewan composers, the SYO will only consider new works that have not been previously performed.

Are handwritten scores eligible? No, only scores generated from a computer engraving program (Sibelius, Finale, etc) will be eligible.

Am I required to submit an audio recording? An audio recording generated by the music notation program is required in order to be considered. Please send your audio file to or if the recording is in CD form, submit 4 CDs to the SYO mail address (as noted above).

May I submit my score electronically? We will not accept electronic submissions. Composers must submit 4 hard copies of the composition score. Submissions must be post-marked by the deadline and late submissions will not be accepted. 

Is a certain style or school of composition given preference (tonal vs. non tonal, etc)?  Works will be evaluated purely on artistic merit without preference given to a certain style of composition.  However, it is critical that submitted work takes into consideration that this will be performed by a pre-professional group.  As such, playability is of prime importance in being considered.  For more information on past repertoire of the SYO please see the end of this document.

I grew up in Saskatchewan but now study/live out of province.  Am I still eligible?  Yes.  Candidates must have resided in SK previously or currently do so.


What does “submissions should not exceed the instrumentation: 2* 2* 2 2 | 4 3 3 1 | timpani + 2 | strings” mean?  For the answer, google “shorthand for orchestra instrumentation”.  N.B. That the asterisks indicates a single player doubling on an auxiliary instrument.

Do I need to include individual printed parts?  Parts need not be submitted at the time of submission.  The winning composer will supply parts after their piece is chosen.  Parts are the responsibility of the composer and must be provided in compliance with the needs of the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra’s library.   Timeline for parts will be coordinated with the winning applicant.

I'm interested in composing/ have composed a work for orchestra but I've never taken a composition lesson.  Should I still submit? By all means, yes.  Some of the greatest composers have been largely self-taught.  However, please ensure that you have checked that what you are writing is possible and within the range of the instrument in question.  An excellent resource for this is The Technique of Orchestration by Kent Kennan and Donald Grantham.  In addition to being an excellent guide to orchestration, it gives practical advice in scoring for amateur and pre-professional groups.

Will my submission be returned to me? No, any material submitted remains in the possession of the SYO

I have more questions!  Who do I ask? No problem!  We have more answers!  Please email your questions to SYO Music Director Richard Carnegie at


Please note that the winning composer will receive coaching in the editing process in preparation for rehearsal and performance. 



Partial List of recent SYO Repertoire

We hope this list will give candidate composers an indication of the programming and level of difficulty of works performed by the SYO

Beethoven- Symphony No. 5

Tchaikovsky- Nutcracker Suite

Wagner- Lohengrin: Prelude to Act III

Dvorak- Symphony No. 8

Tchaikovsky- Swan Lake Suite

Williams- Star Wars Suite

Beethoven- Symphony No. 7

Schubert- Symphony No. 8

Rossini- William Tell Overture

Bach/Stokowski- Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Dvorak- Symphony No. 9

Tchaikovsky- 1812 Overture

Brahms- Academic Festival Overture

Brahms- Symphony No. 2

Prokofiev- Lt. Kije Suite