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Commissioned Composer

Massachusetts Commissioned Composer Program



MMTA is dedicated to supporting the creation of new works by American composers. The Massachusetts Commissioned Composer Program recognizes an outstanding professional composer with a commission award of $2,000 and a premiere performance at the biennial Quad State Conference. The Quad State Conference occurs every two years in either Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine and the next Quad State Conference will occur in Maine on October 2nd,  2021.  The commission is not a prize for an existing composition but rather a means of encouragement for a recognized composer to create a new musical work.

The winning composer of the Massachusetts Commissioned Composer program will also be considered for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Distinguished Composer of the Year award. Each MMTA commissioned piece is automatically entered into this national competition, which serves to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to American music. The winner is selected by a panel of recognized composers. The MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year receives an award of $5,000, and their newly commissioned piece is presented in a concert performance at the next MTNA National Conference.

The MMTA Commissioned Composer Program serves to support the careers of professional composers and is not to be confused with the MTNA Student Composition Competitions. Composers currently enrolled in high school, undergraduate, or master’s degree programs are NOT eligible to apply. However, submissions from doctoral candidates are accepted.


  • The nominee does not need to be a member of MMTA or MTNA
  • The nominee must be a legal resident of the United States and preferably a resident of Massachusetts.
  • The nominee may be any composer who will agree to the terms of the application and the rules and regulations of the competition.


Guide to nominating an individual for MMTA Commissioned Composer

  • Any member of MMTA may nominate a composer.
  • Nominations should be submitted to Dorothy Travis, Commissioned Composer Chair, and should include nominee’s name, address, phone number, and email address.
  • When considering making a nomination, first ascertain the interest of the prospective nominee in pursuing the commission.
  • The nomination period closes on November 1, 2020.
  • The commissioned composer chair will contact each nominee and request a resume (or curriculum vita) and an audio sampling of their previous work.
  • The deadline for nominated composers to submit materials/CD or a download link to the Chair is December 1, 2020.
  • It is very important that all nominees understand that the commission is not a prize for an existing composition, but rather a means of encouragement for a recognized composer to create a new musical work.


Submission Process

Nominated composers who have been contacted by the Commissioned Composer Chair should submit;

  • at least TWO representative works (excerpts or movements of a multi-movement work are acceptable) which should include a PDF of the scores and Audio recordings (MP3) and/or video links. The files should not exceed 15 minutes of original music and should be labeled with titles only and absolutely no identification of the composer.
  • an Introductory Cover Letter
  • a Résumé and/or Curriculum Vitae
  • a List of Complete Works

Composers are encouraged to submit their materials no later than two weeks prior to the December 1 deadline to allow the chair time to review their submissions for possible omissions and/or problems with electronic transmission or with such sites as drop box. Composers are also encouraged to submit Supporting Documents, such as:

  • • Press clippings
  • • Reviews
  • • Links to performance videos
  • • Composer’s website
  • • Any other social media sites that the Composer would like the selection committee to review

All submissions should be sent to Dorothy Travis at commissions@mmta.net

Selection Process

The Commissioned Composer will be selected by a committee comprising the MMTA Commissioned Composer Chair, MMTA State President, and a third judge chosen by the Commissioned Composer Chair.


Commissioned Composition & Premiere Performance

The selected Commissioned Composer will write a work approximately10–15 minutes in length for any performance medium. The commissioned composition is premiered at the Quad State Conference.   MMTA will provide a stipend of $150 per performer to engage musicians for the Quad State Conference premiere performance.  The maximum stipend will be $1,050 for up to 7 performers. MMTA offers no additional financial assistance in this regard and does not offer any additional stipend for travel or lodging. The 2021 Quad State Conference will be held on a October 2, 2021 in Maine.


Important Dates & Deadlines 2020-2022

  • November 1, 2020 Nomination period closes
  • December 1, 2020 Nominated Composers submit cover letters, resumes and audio files.
  • December 23, 2020 The Commissioned Composer Chair will notify the winning composer.
  • September 1, 2021 Delivery of commissioned composition: PDF of completed score must be sent via e-mail to the MMTA Commissioned Composer Chair.
  • October 2021 Premiere performance of the commissioned composition at the Quad State Conference.
  • December 1, 2021 Deadline for MMTA Commissioned Composer Chair to submit the commissioned composition to the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Award Competition.
  • March 26-30, 2022  Performance of the composition from the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year at the MTNA National Conference • Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2019 Massachusetts Commissioned Composer: Vartan Aghababian

Commissioned Composition: Modal Dances.

To listen to the composition, please click the following image or HERE.

Modal Dances


Massachusetts Commissioned Composer History

Click here.  The "X" refers to MA composers who became National Commissioned Composer Winners



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