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Applications Open for 2024 Emerging Black Composers Project

SFCM and the San Francisco Symphony announce call for applications for the fourth annual Emerging Black Composers Project. This year’s competition looks to further identify and promote inventive Black musicians, of any music genre, under age 35.

November 1, 2023 by Mark Taylor

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), in partnership with the San Francisco Symphony, announced today that applications are now open for the fourth annual Emerging Black Composers Project (EBCP), its Michael Morgan Prize and the Cabrillo Emerging Black Composers Prize.

The winner of the 2024 Michael Morgan Prize will receive a $15,000 award and have a new work commissioned to receive its world premiere with the San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. The winner will also receive mentorship from Salonen, SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater, and Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the resident conductor of engagement and education at SF Symphony and chair of the EBCP selection committee. 

The winner will also receive career support and investment from SFCM faculty and musicians. This award was renamed the Michael Morgan Prize in 2023 in honor of the late maestro who served as the first chair and co-founder of the EBCP before he died in 2021. 

“Our continued work with emerging Black composers is incredibly fulfilling, especially as we now see the winners stepping into the limelight, creating new, timely and compelling works,” said Bartholomew-Poyser. “We welcome composers of all types to apply for the award this year, and look forward to a full and varied range of aesthetics from currently emerging composers.”

"This program continues to grow each year, adding new composers, gathering new partners, and growing a network of enthusiastic support for these vital new musical voices," Outwater said. "I've enjoyed being on the ground with these composers in San Francisco and supporting them through the process of creation. All of these composers are so exceptional and wonderful, and I'm so lucky that they are my colleagues and friends." 

The Emerging Black Composers Project is a ten-year commitment to spotlight early-career Black American composers and their music. It was launched in 2020 with the first-place commission given in June of 2021 to Trevor Weston with additional prizes awarded to Sumi Tonooka, Shawn Okpebholo, and Jonathan Bingham. Jens Ibsen, winner of the 2022 Emerging Black Composers Project, will have his work Drowned in Light premiered by Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony as part of the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music later this month, on November 10-12. Xavier Muzik, winner of the Michael Morgan Prize in 2023, will have his work premiered with the San Francisco Symphony during the 2024/2025 season. 

In addition to the Michael Morgan Prize, in partnership with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Cabrillo Emerging Black Composers Prize will also be chosen from this same pool of applicants. This additional winner will receive a cash prize for the composition of a new five to seven-minute symphonic work. The piece will receive its world premiere by Cabrillo Festival Orchestra during the 2025 Cabrillo Festival season, with the winner serving as composer-in-residence. 

All applications are judged through an anonymous process by a committee of leaders in the field that include Daphne Burt, Nathalie Joachim, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Jeff Zeigler, along with Weston, Salonen, Outwater and Bartholomew-Poyser among others. 

Applicants are encouraged to apply today. This year’s EBCP submission deadline is February 1, 2024; winners will be announced in spring 2024.

The Emerging Black Composers Project is underwritten by Michèle and Laurence Corash.  

How to apply

Black American composers (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) aged 35 or under during 2023 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 by 11:59 PM PT on February 1, 2024.

For further information or to apply, visit

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