Classical Evolve: Composer Competition

As part of Maestro Stilian Kirov’s vision to encourage the development of new musical voices, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra is excited to announce IPO Classical Evolve – our third annual composition competition aimed at expanding the canon of classical music for current and future generations.

In an innovative and artistically fulfilling process, three finalists will be chosen to have their original score workshopped and performed LIVE to IPO audiences on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. The winning composer will be named IPO “Composer-in-Residence” and have the opportunity to compose three works during the upcoming season.

Classical Evolve made possible by Jerri E. Greer

2021 Winner: Jonathan Cziner
CLICK HERE to read about the three 2021 finalists and their work
2019 Winner and current Composer-in-Residence is Martha Horst.
2018 Winner and Composer-in-Residence is Ben Ash.

Martha Horst,  Composer-in-Residence and Winner of the 2019 Classical Evolve Composer Competition

2021 Finals

  • Wednesday, September 22, 2021
  • 6:30pm
  • Marg Kallemeyn Theatre inside the Art & Communication Center at Trinity Christian College
  • Purchase tickets ($25 or $15 for season subscribers) by calling the IPO Box Office at 708.481.7774


  • Composers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Must be an emerging composer with no more than two compositions performed by a professional orchestra.

Winner Prize

  • One Winner will be chosen by Jury
  • Composer in Residence title during the upcoming season
  • Opportunity to compose three works for IPO classical series during the upcoming season
  • Prize of $3,000 payable in three installments during the upcoming season upon completion of each work for classical series
  • Archival recording of each classical series concert performed during the upcoming season (to be used only for promotional purposes in accordance with Chicago Federation of Musicians Local No. 10-208, A.F.M.)
  • Visibility and publicity as IPO’s Composer-in-Residence in all press materials, on IPO website and in the wider Chicago area

Application Fee

$20 – payable to Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, 377 Artists Walk, Park Forest, IL 60466. Alternatively, payment may be made over the phone at 708.481.7774.

Please see Composer Competition PDF for full details and application instructions (applications currently closed)


IPO PATRONS: Help shape the future of classical music. Attend the workshop session of the three composer finalists and vote for your favorite composition. The audience vote will give add one collective favorite vote to the judging panel! 

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