Young Composers Competition sponsored by BMF, Summit Music and Arts |

Young Composers Competition sponsored by BMF, Summit Music and Arts

weekender staff report

The Breckenridge Music Festival and Summit Music and Arts announce their inaugural Young Composers Competition, a collaborative project providing an opportunity for musicians and composers ages 10 to 18 residing in Clear Creek, Eagle, Grand, Lake, Park, Routt and Summit counties to enter one or more original compositions for critique.

The competition began in 1995 as the Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition, founded by Len Rhodes in response to many young musicians in Colorado who were seeking professional help and support with their original music. The organization began simply as a program offered through the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs. The first two years attracted entries from young composers primarily residing in Colorado Springs. Soon, the reputation began to grow, and it was not long before PPYC received entries from throughout the state of Colorado.

As the result of a National Public Radio article, awareness of PPYC extended throughout the United States and abroad. In particular, conservatories with junior departments encouraged their students to submit entries to the competition. These conservatories included The Juilliard School in New York, as well as both the Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory in Boston. Entries were also received from the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and Asia. Compositions originating from the competition have been performed on concert platforms throughout the world.

One of the requirements of the competition is that music has to be written down (scored) according to the established traditions of music notation. As well as Rhodes, PPYC employed leading composers and educators throughout the United States in its distinguished judging panel and offered workshops in composition, music theory and music history. These workshops attracted young musicians from throughout the U.S. Many PPYC alumni have moved into significant appointments in the music world, and alumni have attended or are attending significant music schools and universities. The National Repertory Orchestra, based in Breckenridge, performed an orchestral piece from the 2011 competition.

During the 17-year history, PPYC received more than 1,200 entries. The composer workshops attracted more than 200 young people, many returning each year. The value of such workshops offered the opportunity for young musicians of "like mind" to interact with their peers. The goals of the workshop were to encourage student confidence in their ability to "expose" their craft. Writing a piece of music is a deep, personal expression, very much along the lines of the visual artist.

Sharing and performing their creations with their peers and an audience places many demands, both emotional and practical, on young composers. Winning pieces were performed at annual PPYC concerts, these concerts simply providing a platform for new music to be heard. Many of these concerts were held at Packard Hall on the Colorado College campus in Colorado Springs, as well as numerous other venues.

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"There is an incredible excitement about hearing a piece of music for the first time — for the composer, as well as the performers and the audience," Rhodes said.

Breckenridge Music Festival's Music in the Schools program is made possible by funding from The Summit Foundation. For more information, email Rhodes, Summit Music and Arts artistic director, at

Submit a composition

What: Young Composers Competition, a collaborative project between Breckenridge Music Festival and Summit Music and Arts, open to composers ages 10 to 18 residing in Clear Creek, Eagle, Grand, Lake, Park, Routt and Summit counties

When: Deadline for entries is Monday, Feb. 23

Where: Winners Concert will be held at Summit Middle School Auditorium in Frisco on Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m.

Cost: No entry fee

More information: Full details, competition guidelines and regulations and application form are available on