Orchestral work Competition. CANCELLED

Dear Forumites,

Ray and myself regret to inform you that this competition is as it says in the header, cancelled.

We still think it was a worthy adventure because the winner could well have benefitted from this, but lack of interest has dictated otherwise.

Our thanks go to HS and Socrates for their willing participation and to all who supported the idea in this and other threads.

I'd like to add a special thanks and show of gratitude to Ray for agreeing to be a part of this.


Time to get back to what now seems like the breezy job of composing.

Dear Forumites

I am writing to see if anybody would be interested in entering a competition to select a piece of concert music written by one of you to be programmed by myself and mastered by Ray. 

I have at my disposal high end orchestral samples that can be used to show the winner how their score would sound in a more realistic way. The samples are not perfect nor a replacement for real players of course, but the difference between what I can offer and whatever notation software is used for rendering is very marked, so much so that when the winning composer hears his/her piece, they may well get a nice shock! The fact that Ray has kindly offered his considerable skills in mastering for whatever comes out of my studio, means that the winner will have a full quality professional recording of their piece. 

I know some here will have the same pro samples as me and I respectfully ask them not to apply as I would like to limit this to those who can only use notation software for playback. 

I was thinking of setting this up pretty much the way Gav has set up competitions in the past
( and I thank Gav for his advice in this matter) with me choosing one out of the best 3 pieces voted for by the forum members to work on.
All this would be anonymous of course, but once the winning piece was announced online, I will have detailed discussions with that composer regarding performance details and interpretation. 


The music should be a concert work of between 2- 6 minutes for small, up to large orchestra. For clarification, a full orchestra can comprise up to (but not essential!) triple wind (auxiliaries are allowed) full brass up to 6 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone and 1 tuba, percussion a4 if required (all mallets and non pitched perc available) 2 harps and full strings. Chamber orchestra is a paired down orchestra and personnel numbers can be left to the composer but there must be a minimum of around 20 players although if strings are used, then the composer must specify how many in each section. Please note that divisi in strings is also possible, with a limit of a3 for each section. 

No choir or avant-garde techniques should be used because they are not very convincing at present with samples. Any style/period of music is permitted and pieces will NOT be judged on this. The piece can be anything from an overture to a symphonic poem in any mood and on any subject if you need one to write with, but it must be a concert orchestral piece.

What I will be looking for whilst judging, apart from a good piece of music, is clarity of intent in the score because I will have to in effect perform it, this means as detailed a score as possible regarding articulations and dynamics. If I feel there is a problem with the scoring in terms of balance or performance on an instrument, I will gladly liaise with the composer in order to find a solution they are happy with. 

You can submit more than one work if you wish, but not with the same alias and you can submit a work previously posted on this forum. If you are interested please let me know in this thread. 
  Entrants should then submit mp3 and full score for each piece they enter and forum members will then be asked to vote for their three favourite pieces, the winner will be chosen from the top three. If the interest is there, I will sort out the next anonymous posting phase using Gavs’ advice and set-up procedures.

Deadline for entrants to register - 15th September

Deadline for entrants submission - 30th January

Here is a well known piece programmed by me in order to give you an idea of the quality of the samples I will use on the winning piece. There are 2 files, one is live, the other isn't. I didn't try too hard to create an exact replica of the live recording and it is possible to tell the difference, but they are pretty close. Also this file has no mastering applied to it, which will be done by Ray on the winning piece. Hopefully this will entice a few more entrants.

Any questions, please ask here and I shall endeavour to answer, as an added bonus, it will also bump the thread. 




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  • Mike, what is the smallest group of instruments that will be acceptable ?

  • @Dave,
    I guess you may well be ineligible having heard some of your brass and orchestral mock-ups, sorry mate. I did wonder about doing something more media orientated but could not think of a worthwhile reason one would enter. As it stands, at least the 'prize' here might be instructive musically for somebody who can only hear their music via soulless and mis-leading playback, this comp is for them.


    I was vague so let's say 20 players. That could mean 15 string players and 5 wind, or all wind and brass, but if somebody submits a piece for 19 bassoons and a wood block they should not expect to win! In other words, any combination you want, so long as it is a balanced and musically appropriate line up?
  •  It sounds as a very good idea to me Mike, and exactly for someone like me who doesn't get his music for humans played  often by that species, plus being largely ignorant of the intricate details of MIDI, sound recording and digital sound in general. So, count me in.

  • Good point Ray, I didn't think of that. If the submitted mp3 is generated from notation software, then the playing field is level from a judging point of view. I question what somebody with the samples I have or similar would stand to gain from winning when they could very well do it themselves and probably more to their liking. However as I can't police this with any effective means other than appealing to composers' conscience, submissions from those with superior sound sets to hand can enter if their mp3 is notation playback but remember you may be denying a member who does not have the luxury of decent playback the chance to hear a very musical rendering of their work.


    Nice one and yes your situation is the main reason for this competition.
  • What I cannot understand so far is how Ray is going to do the mixing. I mean, ok I can submit a PDF and a score writer generated mp3, but this is not enough for a mix, is it? What I am lead to believe is that I should submit many mp3 files, one for every individual track/instrument included in a composition, which is fine by me, but please clarify this point, either Mike or Ray.


  • Hi Socrates,

    All you need to do is what you say, the mp3 you generate is for forumites to hear and vote on. From that point on, if you win, I will programme each part into my Daw from your score using high quality samples. I will then balance and mix, send the file to Ray who will then apply the dark art of mastering to that file.
  • I'm very interested in this very generous offer of Mike and Ray.  However, my time is currently very limited and I doubt if I'll be able to come up with something in time for the deadline (or to revise an existing work to suitable form).

  • HS,
    That is a shame but your post has me wondering if perhaps more time should be given for forumites to compose and/or prepare with.
    Nothing is set in stone yet and if there is enough interest, then why not make sure everyone has enough time. It'd be a shame for some to not enter because of an overly restrictive time limitation. (Even some pros would have to sober up a bit to write 5 mins of scored music :-). There should be no real pressure and so I will amend the deadline to 5 months from the confirmation of the go- ahead. That added to a month or two of bumps should be enough time for everyone.
  • Thanks, that's very generous!  In fact, last night I had an idea about an existing piano piece that I think is worth transcribing to orchestra, so (tentatively at least) you can count me in.

  • I'll enter.  It will most likely be a piece I've posted on this forum already.  

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