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Jul 17, 2024

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New Jersey Symphony
Orchestra Accepting

2018 NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute

Six-day program will give participating composers musical- and career-development experience

Institute includes sessions with Institute Director Steven Mackey, conductor David Robertson, NJSO musicians and industry leaders

NEWARK, NJ—The application process is now open for the 2018 NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, a multifaceted program that promotes new music and emerging composers. The Institute will select four composers to participate in intense compositional evaluations, consultations, rehearsals and career-enrichment sessions July 9–14 on the Princeton University campus. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will perform the participants’ works on Saturday, July 14, at 8 pm at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.

Emerging composers—university composition students or composers in the early stages of their professional careers—must submit completed applications by February 2. Four composers will be identified to participate in the Institute by March 15. The application form and details are available at

By the conclusion of the Institute’s immersive laboratory experience, participants will have gained invaluable musical and practical feedback about writing for orchestra and how to get their music published and performed. Composers will hear their works in rehearsal and performance and will participate in masterclasses with Institute Director and lauded composer Steven Mackey; they will receive feedback from NJSO musicians and guest conductor David Robertson, who returns to the Institute after conducting and mentoring composers at the 2016 session. The Institute will also provide career-development opportunities with industry leaders.

“The Cone Institute is really unique,” Mackey says. “It provides a lot of time for the students to work with the orchestra. I think what separates the Cone Institute from many of its peer opportunities is its holistic vision of the composer and [the way we help] composers build their careers so their music is heard. There are sessions with industry leaders, publishers and radio stations [about practical topics] that will be important for a composer’s career.”

2017 Cone Institute composer Alyssa Weinberg says: “There’s so much value in this program. Nowhere else in my time writing have I had such an extended period of not just rehearsal time but time to workshop [a piece]. There was actually time built into [the Institute] for revisions—time to meet with [Mackey and] the conductor, make those changes and really elevate your piece to the next level. Any orchestral experience is valuable, no matter what, but this one is truly unique in how much time we have to work on our pieces in a very gradual and deliberate manner throughout the week leading up to the concert.”

Composer Sam Lipman cites last summer’s sessions with industry leaders like Boosey & Hawkes, New Music USA and WQXR’s Q2 Music as “career opportunities that you wouldn’t get in the space or two or three years, let alone one week. [Meetings like] the advising session from the orchestra are exceptional experiences that are going to give you an edge.”

The Times of Trenton praises the multidimensional experience the Institute provides for participants: “For four composers at the beginning of their careers, the institute is an invaluable experience – six days of intensive evaluations and consultations, culminating in a live performance of their music by a major symphony orchestra under a world-class conductor … What is especially valuable about the institute is that the lessons learned will extend far beyond advice on simple technique, delving into the actual business side of what it means to be a composer, including information on rehearsal protocol, publishing and promotion.”

Sessions will include small group gatherings with Institute faculty, NJSO musicians and NJSO staff to discuss applications and variations on the possible versus the practical in composition; one-on-one and group coaching sessions with Mackey; seminars with industry leaders to broaden awareness of current practices in publishing, licensing, promotion and music preparation; in-studio interviews with Q2 Music and the opportunity to strengthen personal presentation and networking skills.

The Institute is tuition-free; housing on the campus of Princeton University and on-campus meals will be provided.

The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute grew out of reading sessions the Orchestra has held with Princeton University graduate students biennially for more than a decade. The Institute celebrates its namesake Cone’s legacy as both a composer and a Princeton University professor.

WQXR’s Q2 Music has partnered with the NJSO to broadcast the first four Institute concerts. The concerts are available to stream at

A collaboration between the NJSO and Princeton University Department of Music, the Institute is generously funded in part by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.


Applications will be accepted from emerging composers who must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully residing in the United States. Applicants must currently be university composition students or in the early stages of their professional careers. Applicants must be at least 18 years old on or before July 1, 2018.

Participating composers will be selected through competitive application by a panel administered by the NJSO. The criteria for participation will be the panel’s assessment of the composer’s invention and creativity in the orchestral medium, as well as a demonstrated understanding of the technical/practical requirements of the medium. Final decisions will be made by Steven Mackey and David Robertson.

Composers who have participated in previous Institutes may not reapply. Previous applicants may resubmit works previously entered or reapply with a different work.

Complete applications with all required supporting materials must be received by February 2, 2018. Applicants will be notified of their status by March 15, 2018.

A full list of application requirements, deadlines and other information, including a link to the application form, are available at

For more information, contact Alexandra Black, NJSO Artistic Operations Coordinator, at or 973.735.1740.

Major underwriting support for the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is generously provided by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.