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 second 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 Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The winning composer will be named IPO “Composer-in-Residence” and have the opportunity to compose three works for IPO’s 2020-21 Season.

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


  • 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 for IPO 2020-21 Season
  • Opportunity to compose three works for IPO classical series during the 2020-21 Season
  • Prize of $3,000 payable in three installments throughout the 2020-21 Season upon completion of each work for classical series
  • Archival recording of each classical series concert performed during the 2020-21 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. Checks must be postmarked by December 14, 2019. Alternatively, payment may be made over the phone at 708.481.7774 by December 16, 2019 11:59 PM (CST).

Please see the Composer Competition PDF for full details and application instructions.


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! Event starts at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at Ozinga Chapel. Seating is general admission.

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