HerVoice: The Emerging Women Composer Competition

Oct 28, 2020

Chicago a cappella is pleased to announce a competition and mentorship program for women composers.  This opportunity is open to women of all ages and is intended to promote the work of promising composers and provide hands-on training to further their skills in choral composition.

We are seeking composers who are eager to improve their skill at choral composition in particular.  Women composers who live in the Chicago area, those whose career is in its early stages (i.e. no national presence), and women composers of color are particularly encouraged to apply.

Stacy GarropOne winner will be chosen selected to receive personal mentorship and advice on the submitted piece via virtual one-on-ones with acclaimed composer Stacy Garrop (pictured), Chicago a cappella Artistic Director John William Trotter, and singers from the ensemble.  In addition, the winner will be invited to attend an early rehearsal of her work, with the opportunity to receive feedback and make changes to the score.  The piece will be performed by Chicago a cappella during the 2021-22 season, with a performance recording available to the composer for non-commercial use.

In addition, all composers who submit will be invited to participate in a virtual meeting with Stacy Garrop regarding the business side of composing, and an additional informal group conversation about issues pertaining to navigating a career as a female composer.

Requirements:  Submit a piece for a cappella choral ensemble with no more than 10 voice parts (SSSAATTBBB).  The piece should be between 3-5 minutes in length.  Texts used must be public domain or have written permission from copyright holder. Submissions must be unpublished, unawarded and not previously broadcast.  Previously performed works are acceptable.  Composers may submit a maximum of two pieces.


  • Submission deadline:  April 1, 2021
  • Short interviews (phone or online) for finalists:  April 1-30, 2021
  • Decision announcement:  May 1, 2021
  • Mentoring sessions, initial rehearsal, and group discussions:  between May 1-Sept. 15, 2021
  • Final version of piece completed by Sept. 15, 2021

To submit, email the following:

  • PDF of your piece (hand-written acceptable), without your name anywhere on the score. Name the file as: Title.pdf”.
  • Audio file, if available.  MIDI file acceptable.  Name the file as “Title.pdf”.
  • PDF of brief artist statement (without your name) describing why are you interested in this opportunity.  Maximum word count 300.
  • Include your complete contact information in the body of the email; no name or contact information on the attachments, please.

Submit via email to info@chicagoacappella.org no later than April 1, 2021. 

Chicago a cappella is one of the area’s most accomplished and innovative vocal ensembles. Performing with an ensemble of 10 singers and no conductor, Chicago a cappella has been hailed as “the area’s best unaccompanied group” (Chicago Magazine) and “the city’s liveliest, most versatile vocal ensemble” (Chicago Tribune). Founded in 1993, the group spans a repertoire from Gregorian chant to the Beatles and beyond. With more than 500 performances to its credit, Chicago a cappella produces an annual concert series in the Chicago area, and it has appeared in 13 American states and in Mexico. The ensemble has been heard frequently on radio nationally and has produced nine CD recordings on the Cedille, Centaur, and Gothic labels. They have been acclaimed for their “clarity, well-balanced tone, and deep emotional involvement” (Washington Post) and “breathtaking ensemble and control” (American Organist).

Stacy Garrop is an award-winning composer with over five dozen choral works to her credit.  Her catalog also includes numerous works for orchestra, opera, oratorio, wind ensemble, art song, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. She served as the first Emerging Opera Composer of Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Program (2018-2020) and held a 3-year composer-in-residence position with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra (2016-2019).  Garrop is a Cedille Records artist with pieces currently on ten CDs; her works are also commercially available on ten additional labels.  She has received an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Barlow Prize, and prizes from competitions sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Omaha Symphony, Boston Choral Ensemble, and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.  Recent commissions include works for Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Other notable commissions include works for the Kronos Quartet,  Chanticleer, and the San Francisco Choral Society. She has upcoming commissions with The Crossing and the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation among others. She taught composition and orchestration at Roosevelt University (2000-2016) before leaving to launch her freelance career. She earned degrees in music composition at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (B.M.), University of Chicago (M.A.), and Indiana University-Bloomington (D.M.).


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