Commissioned Composer Program

WSMTA participates annually in the MTNA Composer Commissioning Program.  WSMTA commissions a Northwest composer to write a composition to be premiered at the State Conference in June.  MTNA provides $750 and WSMTA provides $750 for a total of $1,500.  The composer may then submit their composition for consideration to the MTNA Distinguished Composer Committee the following fall.  This committee selects one composer to be honored, whose composition is then premiered at the MTNA national conference. All compositions are placed in the MTNA Commissioned Works Library.

Every composer involved to date has shown excitement and enthusiasm for this project, often stating that it gives them an incentive to accomplish something they might not have done otherwise.  The composers are often asked to provide an intermediate-level composition for students to learn.

 If you have questions, please contact Commissioned Composer Committee Chair Louise Nedela.

Call for Composers!

WSMTA is seeking candidates for the 2021 Commissioned Composer of the Year.

The Commissioned Composer will receive $1,500 when the new composition is premiered at the 2021 WSMTA State Conference next June.  For this year’s composition, the committee is seeking an upper-intermediate level piano solo or duet, piano and voice, or piano and another instrument.

Given the increased stress and difficulties facing musicians during this time, the Commissioned Composer Committee is extending the deadline from July 1st to July 15th, and clarifying the guidelines for those who wish to submit.

For the 2021 composition, the committee would prefer an upper-intermediate level piano solo or duet, piano and voice, or piano and another instrument.  However, the committee is open to other instrumentation, keeping in mind the financial responsibility of the composer.  The committee is also open to pieces at a variety of levels.  Because levels can interpreted in a variety of different ways; the committee is especially interested in a piece that corresponds to the difficulty of the following repertoire:

Beethoven: Sonata Op. 49 #2
Schumann: Album for the Young: The Horseman #23
Schubert’s Waltzes
Mendelssohn: Song Without Words Op. 102 #3
Villa-Lobos: Punch
Tchaikovsky: Baba-Yaga
Debussy Children’s Corner
Kuhlau Sonatinas
Kabalevsky: Prelude Op. 38 #2

In making the choice for this level, a general guideline would be to think towards advanced rather than to try to be within a perceived range of intermediate.  

The composer must reside in Washington State and, preferably, be a WSMTA member.  The committee will also assist the composer in submitting the winning composition to the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Competition.  The winner of the national competition receives a $5,000 prize, a performance opportunity at the national conference, and inclusion of the score in the MTNA archives at the University of Cincinnati.

The commissioned composer will be responsible for financial and logistics regarding performers, rehearsals, and performance of the winning composition, and also provide copies for the WSMTA archives.  The committee suggests that the piece be for one or two performers.

If you wish to be considered, please submit the follow to Louise Nedela, [email protected], by July 1st :

  • two  representative scores (PDF) and recordings (MP3)
  • a short bio
  • contact information
  • a synopsis of your intended project that adheres to the requirements

Please feel free to contact Louise with any questions!  She can be reached by email or phone: (360)448-8572.

WSMTA Commissioned Composers Since 1975

1975David Robbins
1976William Doppman
1978Wendal Jones
1980Paul Polombo
1981Michael Young
1982Brother Ronald Hurst
1985Alan Hovhaness
1986Tomas Svoboda
1987Bern Herbolsheimer
1988William Bergsma
1989Greg Short
1990Normand Poulshock
1991James Beale
1992William Brandt
1993Roger Briggs
1994Diane Thome
1995David Jones
1996David Asplin
1997Charles Argersinger
1998Carol Sams
1999Clement Reid
2000Jonathon Middleton
2001Greg Youtz
2002Don Caron
2003Greg Yasinitsky
2004B. J. Rosco
2005Robert Lundquist
2006Valerie Roubos
2007Gail Gross
2008Meg Mann
2009Victoria Sabo
2010Keva Vaughan-McMorrow
2011Robert Spittal
2012Ryan Hare
2013Reginald Unterseher
2014Liz Nedela
2015Gay Santerre
2016Gregory Youtz
2017Brent Edstrom
2018Keva Vaughan-McMorrow
2019Bruce Stark

Commissioned Composer

of the Year


Bruce Stark

The music of American composer Bruce Stark (born in San Diego) reflects the varied elements of his musical upbringing: studies in percussion, jazz piano, and classical composition. He completed a masters degree in composition at the Juilliard School as a student of Roger Sessions and Vincent Persichetti, thereafter residing in Tokyo for more than 20 years, producing a collection of works that reveal a compelling musical voice. In 2013 he returned to the U.S. and joined the music faculty of DigiPen Institute of Technology as professor of composition and music theory.

From piano and chamber works to choral and orchestral pieces, Stark’s music has been performed on the concert stages of four continents, recorded on numerous CDs and broadcast on radio programs worldwide. Recent commissions include Friends of Today’s Music, trombonists Megumi Kanda and Don Lucas, pianist Kai Schumacher and Eastern Standard Trio. Awards include First Prize in the Composers Guild Contest, Second Prize in the Barlow International Competition, ASCAP composer awards and others. His compositions have been featured in the National Flute Association Convention, American Piano Festival, International Trombone Festival, Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, and the BluePrints series in New York City. Performances of his Symphonic Dances include the Baton Rouge Symphony, Music School Festival Orchestra at Chautauqua and Jakarta Symphony, and his Overture to New Beginnings by the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Rapides Symphony and English Northern Philharmonia. Performances of his chamber works include flutist Paula Robison, the Westwood Wind Quintet and numerous pianists. Recordings of his works have been released by Victor Entertainment, Hanssler Classic, Centaur Records, Red Kite Records and many others.

published scores available online at:

premiered at the
Young Composers Project and Commissioned Composer Recital
at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma
June 20, 2019 at 2:15 p.m. in Schneebeck Hall
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Presto
Sonata for Piano was composed in the spring of 2018 for a commission from the Washington State Music Teachers Association. The fast and rhythmically propelled first movement unfolds in sonata form with jazz-influenced, syncopated material followed by a more lyrical theme, both of which are utilized in the development section, returning in reverse order in the recapitulation. The second movement is a meditative tapestry in 7/8 meter in which a sparce, singing motive is heard through a texture of layered elements. A flourish of activity awakens the music at one point, then the piece returns, somewhat transformed, to the initial texture and fades to its conclusion, like an echo. After a brief introduction, the third movement dances with a bright, rhythmically-propelled momentum in compound meter as it drives the piece to an energetic, optimistic conclusion. Following the initial material, a fugato appears with a subject derived from themes of previous movements, leading to a finish incorporating many of the piece’s motifs as the piece culminates.

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