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Emerging Black Composers Project Now Taking Applications

SFCM and SFS announce call for applications for second annual Emerging Black Composers Project. This year’s competition looks to further identify and promote inventive Black musicians and will focus on talent under age 35.

December 6, 2021 by Mark Taylor

SAN FRANCISCO, CAThe San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), in partnership with the San Francisco Symphony and the SFCM President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, announced today that applications are now open for the second annual Emerging Black Composers Project (EBCP).

The San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, will give the world premiere of a new work commissioned from the EBCP’s winner. They will also receive a $15,000 award and mentorship from Salonen, SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater and Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, (Pictured) the recently announced resident conductor of engagement and education at SF Symphony and chair of the EBCP selection committee. Bartholomew-Poyser succeeds conductor and former Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan, who died earlier this year. The 2022 competition will be held in honor of Morgan.

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, recently announced resident conductor of engagement and education at SF Symphony and chair of the EBCP selection committee.

Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

“It’s an honor to join this project, which is needed and appropriate in this time in history,” said Bartholomew-Poyser. “We welcome a wide array of emerging voices, techniques, and aesthetics and encourage innovators to apply.”

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. Because of the strength of the applicant pool, three additional prizes were also conferred to rising talent Sumi Tonooka, Shawn Okpebholo, and Jonathan Bingham. All four of the composers’ works will receive their world premieres during the 2022-23 season at either the San Francisco Symphony, SFCM, the National Brass Ensemble or the Oakland Symphony, and each piece will be workshopped by a large ensemble at SFCM in the spring of 2022.

"Being a part of this competition last year was one of the most exciting and illuminating experiences of my career. It revealed the incredible wealth of talent among Black composers, and how essential they are and will be in the world of orchestral music,” said Outwater. “I'm thrilled to continue to discover and support new voices this year and beyond."

EBCP set out to commission ten works in ten years, a goal that will likely be surpassed in that timeframe. To further identify and highlight young artists and support their careers, this year’s competition will invite applications only from composers 35 years of age and under.

“We are glad to see the Emerging Black Composers Project evolving so as to meet its objective of expanding the musical influences of the next generation of composers and shining a light on new voices that broaden both the excitement and relevance of music,” said Michèle Corash, who helps fund the project with her husband, Larry Corash.

All applications are judged through an anonymous process by a committee of leaders in the field that includes Bartholomew-Poyser, Outwater, Salonen and John Adams, Elinor Armer, Carmen Bradford, Anthony Davis, Germaine Franco, and Joseph Young. Weston will join the committee in an ex-officio role.

This year’s EBCP submission deadline is February 14, 2022; winners will be announced in spring 2022.

How to apply

Black American composers (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) age 35 or under 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 11:59pm PT on February 14, 2022.

For further information or to apply, visit

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About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

SFCM draws on the bold creativity of San Francisco to offer unparalleled training for the 21st century musician. We support students in developing the skills and vision to chart successful careers and advance the human experience through music.

We believe a musical education must extend far beyond technical and performance skills. Our commitment to music of enduring quality and importance is the foundation of our innovative curriculum, cultivating critical thinking and business acumen alongside artistic practice, and creating a transformative environment of inquiry, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

Our DNA combines a global perspective with the unstoppable energy and imagination of our hometown. Our pioneering programs and partnerships with leading institutions and businesses prepare students to seize opportunities in music and a wide array of the fastest developing sectors today. SFCM is a magnet for exceptional faculty whose ongoing professional experience benefits our students. As the only conservatory partnered with a leading artist management company, we are able to provide our students unique insight and access to the music industry.

About the San Francisco Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony is widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the United States, celebrated for its artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. In the 2020–21 season, the San Francisco Symphony welcomed conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen as its twelfth Music Director, embarking on a new vision for the present and future of the orchestral landscape. In their inaugural season together, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony introduced a groundbreaking artistic leadership model anchored by eight Collaborative Partners from a variety of cultural disciplines: Nicholas Britell, Julia Bullock, Claire Chase,BryceDessner,Pekka Kuusisto, Nico Muhly, Carol Reiley, and esperanza spalding. This group of visionary artists, thinkers, and doers, along with Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, have set out to explore and develop new ideas inspired by the Partners’ unique areas of expertise, including innovative digital projects, expansive and imaginative performance concepts in a variety of concert formats, commissions of new music, and projects that foster collaboration across artistic and administrative areas. Shaped by the dynamic partnership and shared vision of Esa-Pekka Salonen, San Francisco Symphony’s eight Collaborative Partners, and the Orchestra and Chorus, the 2021–22 season reflects a spirit of collaboration, experimentation, and renewed dialogue through live music. This exciting artistic future builds on the remarkable 25-year tenure of Michael Tilson Thomas as the San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director, who continues his rich relationship with the Symphony as its first Music Director Laureate. For more information,

Media contacts:
SFCM: Beth Giudicessi