Young Composers Project

The Young Composers Project gives students of WSMTA members the opportunity to submit their original compositions for judging and comments by qualified adjudicators.  This year, for the first time, Washington State teachers will also have the opportunity to submit their own original compositions for comments from the adjudicators.

These adjudicators are college professors and/or private teachers whose area of expertise is composition.  The project provides educational feedback, a goal-setting format, and a focus on music that students love – their own compositions.  Adjudicators select a first, second and third place composition for each grade level giving written comments.  Certificates are awarded to all participants, and a small monetary prize is awarded to each first place winner (see yearly Rules and Guidelines form for details.)  First place winners are invited to perform their compositions at the WSMTA Conference each summer.

While teachers are not eligible for prizes, they will still receive a certificate!

Classifications, Levels, and Entry fee per composition:

PrimaryGrades K-2One first place award for all three grades$25
ElementaryGrades 3-6Each grade is awarded a first place prize$25
JuniorGrades 7-9Each grade is awarded a first place prize$30
SeniorGrades 10-12Each grade is awarded a first place prize$35
Students graduated from high school and up to age 26One first place prize$40
TeacherWashington State teachers with an active studioComments onlyNo prize

2021 -2022 Young Composers Project

WSMTA is excited to announce that Frances Goei and Susan Hurley are the new YCP Co-Chairs.  If you have any questions, or suggestions for our new YCP chairs, please contact Frances GoeiSusan Hurley, or Education Board Chair, Krista Seely.

Registration: December 1, 2021 – February 22, 2022

If you have other questions, please contact Carrie Kahler, WSMTA Administrative Coordinator.

2021 – 2022 Young Composers Project Judges

Dr. Greg Youtz

Gregory Youtz has served as Professor of Music at Pacific Lutheran University since 1984. He is a regular pre-concert lecturer for Symphony Tacoma and a frequent public speaker and MC, presenting on topics ranging from classical and world music to Chinese culture and the study of creativity. His compositions include works for orchestra, band, choir, voice and chamber ensembles, and three operas including the 1991 Songs from the Cedar House about Native American-White interaction in the Puget Sound region, 2016’s Fiery Jade-Cai Yan, (libretto by Zhang Er) based upon the life of a historical Han Dynasty Chinese woman and 2020’s Tacoma Method (libretto by Zhang Er) about the expulsion of the Chinese from Tacoma in 1885. A member of the Pacific Lutheran University Chinese Studies Program for many years, Youtz has done research on Chinese music, instruments, and the use of Chinese musical techniques applied to western instruments, and has a list of compositions based upon Chinese ideas, from poetry and painting to history and philosophy.

Youtz received his B.M. in composition from the University of Washington in 1980 and his D.M.A. in composition from the University of Michigan in 1987.

Dr. Terry McQuilken

Terry McQuilkin has written works for solo piano, chamber ensembles, band, orchestra, and chorus. Several of his compositions were written specifically for student performers, and he has received commissions from school ensembles on both coasts. In 2006, the Oregon Music Teachers Association selected McQuilkin as its composer of the year and commissioned a work to be premiered at that year’s state conference. In 2016, the Delgani String Quartet commissioned him to write a work to help the ensemble inaugurate its initial subscription season; the resulting work is “Invisible Light,” which may be heard on Degani’s CD of the same name.

McQuilkin recently retired from teaching at the University of Oregon, where he taught music composition since 2002.

Born in Los Angeles, he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in music composition at the University of Southern California, where his teachers included Morton Lauridsen, James Hopkins, Anthony Vazzana, and William Kraft. He subsequently took music education courses at UCLA and received his California teaching credential, and taught instrumental music at Robert A. Millikan Middle School in Los Angeles for about five years.

In 1990 began advanced study at the University of Oregon, where his teachers included Harold Owen and Robert Kyr. While a graduate student, he taught music theory, musicianship, and music literature. He has also taught music at Northwest Christian College and Umpqua Community College, and for several years directed the choir at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Eugene.

Several of McQuilkin’s works and arrangements have been published by Neil A. Kjos Music, and Southern Music Company of San Antonio.

Dr. Robert Spittal

Robert Spittal is an award-winning composer and Professor of Music at Gonzaga University, where he teaches conducting and directs the innovative Creative Music Lab. His compositions have been performed by some of the finest professional and academic musicians in North America, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia. and have been performed in concert halls from New York, Bangkok, Vienna, Cologne, Milan to Spokane, Washington where he resides. Dr. Spittal’s music has been selected for performances at conferences and festivals, including the National Orchestra Festival, the “Music for All” Honor Band of America, the WASBE international conference, the American Bandmasters Association conference, the National MENC conference, the National Flute Association conference, the Midwest Clinic, ASBDA, North American Saxophone Alliance, and the CBDNA Western/Northwestern Conference.

Dr. Spittal was the conductor of the Gonzaga Wind Ensemble for 26 years, and is in demand to conduct bands and orchestras in the United States and Canada.  His compositions for band, orchestra, chamber ensembles and choir are performed and recorded worldwide by professional, academic and community ensembles, and are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Hal Leonard Co., and Maestro and Fox Music.  More information about Dr. Spittal can be found at

Dr. Susan Hurley

Originally from New England, Susan Hurley studied piano, oboe and voice when young. Subsequently, all her music education was in composition – a bachelor’s degree at UMass, master’s at Eastman and doctorate at Indiana University.

As a graduate student she taught composition at Indiana University, then chaired the theory and composition department at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She has written concert art music for a variety of ensembles including chamber opera, orchestra and ballet. She has also composed for film and theater incorporating a wide variety of instruments. Dr. Hurley’s music is rooted in classical styles with a contemporary, accessible twist. Her recording of improvisations on clavichord, available on iTunes entitled Soft Sounds, launched her anti-noise pollution campaign. She maintains a private teaching studio in the Seattle area.

Rick Asher

Rick Asher holds degrees in Music Education from Western Washington University and the University of Oregon, each with an emphasis in instrumental conducting and piano.  Additionally, he completed doctoral coursework in Music Education with an  emphasis in choral conducting and teacher education at the University of Washington.  He studied the Alexander Technique for thirteen years with Catherine Madden, and continues his own focus on applying that technique in his teaching and in his life.

Asher’s career includes teaching instrumental and vocal music from elementary through university levels, as well as studio instruction in piano and voice.  Following eight years of teaching elementary and high school music, he moved to Edmonds Community College, where he taught in the Music Department for twenty-four years, eventually becoming Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.  He also served as director of Cascade Youth Symphony, the Whatcom Chorale in Bellingham, and the Sanctuary Choir of Seattle First Baptist Church.

Now retired from full-time positions, he maintains a studio of piano and voice students at his home in Shoreline and spends time most evenings writing vocal and instrumental music.

More important than all of that, he’s husband to artist and calligrapher, Jocelyn Curry Asher, Dad to Eli and Emily, and Papa to ten year old Ada.

Dr. Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton composes and performs music in a variety of genres. He has performed as a percussionist, improviser, and electronic musician for over 35 years. His music is published by Non Sequitur Music and can be heard on the Albany, Amaranth, and/OAR, black circle, Capstone, Aural Films, Ilse, Linear Obsessional, Memex, Phill, SEAMUS, Spectropol, split-notes, Tangy Citrus, Three Legs Duck and Mark labels.

He has received honors, awards, and commissions from ALEA III, AMC, ASCAP, PAS, Barlow Endowment, Carbondale Community Arts, Indiana University, Jerome Foundation, ​and the ​National Society of Arts and Letters​ among others. Recent performances of his music have included those at NYCEMF, NWEAMO, ICMC, Friends of Rain, Electronic Music Midwest, JMU Contemporary Music Festival, Third Practice Festival​ and many more.

He has given masterclasses and lectures in Munich, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Namur, Dudelange, Portland, Seattle, Olympia, Greensboro, Bloomington, Harrisonburg and Carbondale. A graduate of Indiana University (BM, MM, DM), Hamilton is Professor of Music at Western Washington University, where he teaches music theory, composition, and directs the electroacoustic music studio (WWEAMS). He is a co-organizer of the Sound Culture Adventures Festival, Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival, and the Microtonal Adventures Festival. Hamilton lives in Bellingham with composer Lesley Sommer and their son Miles.

Keva Vaughan-Mcmorrow

Keva Vaughan-McMorrow studied music at Mills Preparatory College in Oakland, CA., received a Bachelor of Music in Performance from Washington State University, in 1975, and her Masters of Music in Piano Performance at the University of Washington in 1982.

She was staff pianist at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church as well as for the Cascade Symphony Orchestra for four decades, and was guest soloist with many other Seattle area ensembles. She’s been active with the CSO as both solo (Nights in the Gardens of Spain) and ensemble pianist (Carnival of the Animals) and in their chamber music series including premieres of her compositions. Keva is well known in the Northwest for her teaching, performance, and composition and was selected as the WSMTA Commissioned Composer of the year in 2010 for her octet, Evening River Echoes. Then in 2018 she was the first woman ever to win the same commission for a second time with her solo piano piece, Antarctic Odyssey. In 2019 her chapter commissioned her for their 30 year celebration, and she premiered that work, Sonatina.  She currently is staff pianist at Shoreline UU Church.

Vaughan-McMorrow is nationally certified through MTNA, and was a founding member and past president of the Edmonds Music Teachers Association as well as vice president of the Seattle chapter. She directed many local music festivals and served as a composition and performance clinician through MTNA. Her students have participated in local, state and national competitions for over four decades and have gone on to win many prestigious positions in orchestras, church positions, and teaching posts. Her most recent work, “Evanescence,” a piano and percussion piece in five movements, was conceived during the 2020 pandemic.