Emerging Composer Commissions

Applications will open July 22, 2024

Musiqa’s Emerging Composer Commission program identifies promising artistic talent and provides performance opportunities with an innovative, contemporary music chamber ensemble. In the interest of increasing under-represented voices in chamber music repertoire, the 2024 competition will be limited to applicants who identify as a woman. Musiqa cannot guarantee a work visa for foreign-born applicants. Visas and other required paperwork must be secured prior to being considered for this commission.

The selected composer will receive: 

  • A commission for a 4-7 minute work to be premiered at a Musiqa performance during the 2024-25 season.  
  • $2000 stipend. 
  • $500 travel stipend. 
  • A professional audio recording of the commission. 

The composer will be expected to: 

  • Attend rehearsal(s) and the world premiere performance. 
  • Speak at a pre-concert discussion. 
  • Develop documentation of your creative process in collaboration with Musiqa staff in order to promote the work and engage with new audiences. 
  • Engage in a virtual or in-person composition seminar with young composition students in Houston. 
  • Participate as a first round judge in the following year’s competition. 
  • Grant Musiqa limited rights to promote the resulting composition, including but not limited to possible reproduction on CDs, in our online library and elsewhere. 


  • 2024 submissions are open to anyone who identifies as a woman and meets the following requirements.
  • Self-motivated with a strong interest in contemporary music.
  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in music, preferably in music composition, completed within the past five years.
  • Authorization to work in the United States: Musiqa cannot guarantee a work visa for foreign-born applicants. Visas and other required paperwork must be secured prior to being considered for this commission.
  • Please understand that Musiqa has a small staff, and must stay within these guidelines in order manage the volume of applications that we receive. We are not able to change any of the requirements at this time. If you have any questions not addressed in these guidelines, please contact us at info at musiqahouston dot org.

Musiqa is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in every facet of its operations including its curatorial practices. 2024 submissions are open to anyone who identifies as a woman and meets the other requirements. The initial judging round of scores and music will be done blind. Judges will not have access to composer applications or resumes during the submission review process. 

The following submissions are required to be considered for the Emerging Composer Commission. 

  • Two (2) anonymized scores or excerpts (PDF format only) with accompanying recordings (MP3 format only). MP3s should each be under 5 minutes in length, with the page and/or measure numbers for recorded excerpts identified in the file title. PDF and MP3 file titles must contain only the work’s title and page or measure numbers: files with titles containing the composer’s name will not be considered. 
  • Resume or CV (PDF format only).  
  • Completed application form and checklist. 

Applications and submissions must be received by August 9, 2024. Submissions should be sent only to the email address provided on the application form.  Application forms will be available on July 22, 2024. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. Selection of the commissions will be announced no later than October 1, 2024. Musiqa will not retain any submission materials after the commissions have been awarded. All submission materials will be destroyed and erased from our servers. Due to administrative limitations, Musiqa is not able to provide feedback on submissions. Please understand that Musiqa has a small staff, and must stay within these guidelines in order manage the volume of applications that we receive. We are not able to change any of the requirements at this time. If you have any questions not addressed in these guidelines, please contact us at info at musiqahouston dot org.

Karim Al-Zand

The music of Canadian-American composer Karim Al-Zand (b.1970) has been called “strong and startlingly lovely” (Boston Globe). His compositions are wide-ranging in influence and inspiration, encompassing solo, chamber, vocal and orchestral works. From scores for dance and compositions for young people to multi-disciplinary and collaborative works, Al-Zand’s music is diverse in both its subject matter and its audience. It explores connections between music and other arts and draws inspiration from varied sources such as graphic art, myths and fables, folk music of the world, film, spoken word, jazz, and his own Middle Eastern heritage. Al-Zand’s music has enjoyed success in the US, Canada and abroad and he is the recipient of several national awards, including the ArtSong Prize, the Louisville Orchestra Competition Prize and the “Arts and Letters Award in Music” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Al-Zand is a founding and artistic board member of Musiqa, Houston’s premier contemporary music group, which presents concerts featuring new and classic repertoire of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In his scholarly work, he has pursued several diverse areas of music theory, including topics in jazz, counterpoint, and improvisation (both jazz and 18th-century extemporization).

Al-Zand was born in Tunis, Tunisia, raised in Ottawa, Canada and educated in Montreal (McGill University, BMus 1993) and Cambridge (Harvard University, PhD 2000). Since 2000 he has taught composition and music theory in Houston at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University.

Anthony Brandt

Composer Anthony Brandt (b. 1961) earned his degrees from California Institute of the Arts (MA ’87) and Harvard University (BA ’83, PhD ’93). His honors include a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the Houston Arts Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program. He has been commissioned by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, Da Camera of Houston, the SOLI ensemble, Houston Ballet II, the Bowdoin International Festival, the Moores School of Music Percussion Ensemble, the Webster Trio, the Fischer Duo, and others. He has been a fellow at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Tanglewood Institute, the MacDowell Colony and the Djerassi Resident Artists Colony, a Visiting Composer at the Bowdoin International Festival, the FICA Festival at the University of Veracruz, the Bremen Musikfest, Baltimore’s New Chamber Arts Festival, Southwestern University, SUNY- Buffalo and Cleveland State University, and Composer-in-Residence of Houston’s OrchestraX and the International Festival of Music in Morelia, Mexico. Recent works include the chamber opera Ulysses, Home, with a libretto by playwright Neena Beber, about a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder. An album of his vocal music, including his chamber opera The Birth of Something, with a libretto by playwright Will Eno, is available on Albany Records (Troy 1144).

Brandt and neuroscientist David Eagleman have co-authored “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World,” to be published in October 2017 by Catapult (United States) and Canongate (United Kingdom), as well as publishing houses in Brazil, China, Germany, and Korea.

Brandt is the author of an innovative, web-based music appreciation course called “Sound Reasoning” (www.soundreasoning.org), created for Rice University’s OpenStax. “Sound Reasoning” was awarded an Access to Artistic Excellence Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has organized three international conferences at Rice on “Exploring the Mind through Music,” most recently in June 2016. He has co-authored papers published in the journals Frontiers and Brain Connectivity and serves on the Advisory Board of Methodist Hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, where he is a principal investigator in a research project involving music and stroke recovery.

Brandt is a Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He has been awarded the University’s Phi Beta Kappa and George R. Brown teaching prizes.

Pierre Jalbert

Earning widespread notice for his richly colored and superbly crafted scores, Pierre Jalbert (b. 1967) has developed a musical language that is engaging, expressive, and deeply personal. Among his many honors are the Rome Prize, the BBC Masterprize, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2007 Stoeger Award, given biennially “in recognition of significant contributions to the chamber music repertory”, and a 2010 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jalbert has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, from plainchant melodies to natural phenomena. His music has been performed worldwide, with four Carnegie Hall performances of his orchestral music, including the Houston Symphony’s Carnegie Hall premiere of his orchestral work, big sky, in 2006. Other major works for orchestra include In Aeternam (2000); performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonia Sacra (2001), written for the California Symphony; Les espaces infinis (2001), written for the Albany Symphony; Chamber Symphony (2004), commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Fire and Ice (2007), commissioned for the Oakland East Bay, Marin, and Santa Rosa Symphonies through Meet the Composer Foundation’s Magnum Opus Project; Autumn Rhapsody (2008), commissioned by the Vermont Symphony, and Shades of Memory (2011) premiered by the Houston Symphony. Recent orchestral performances include those by the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Marin Alsop. He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2002-2005), California Symphony under Barry Jekowsky (1999-2002), and Music in the Loft in Chicago (2003). Select chamber music commissions and performances include those of the Emerson, Ying, Borromeo, Maia, Enso, Chiara, and Escher String Quartets.

Jalbert is Professor of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston, and he serves on the Artistic Board of Musiqa, a Houston-based new music group. His music is published by Schott Music.

Marcus Karl Maroney

Marcus Karl Maroney studied composition and horn at The University of Texas at Austin (B.M.) and Yale School of Music (M.M., D.M.A.). His principal composition teachers were Joseph Schwantner, Ned Rorem, Joan Tower and Dan Welcher. In 1999, he received a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center, the First Hearing award from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer’s award. Other awards and fellowships followed, including: a Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Music 2000 Prize from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, further awards from ASCAP, two residencies at the Copland House and consecutive Woods Chandler Memorial awards from Yale University.

Commissions have come from such organizations and individuals as eighth blackbird, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Timothy McAllister, the Moores School Percussion Ensemble, the Texas Music Festival, the Deer Valley Music Festival and the Juventas! New Music Ensemble. His works have been recorded on the Albany, Centaur and Blue Griffin labels, and are published by TrevCo, Seconda Prattica, and Ever-Fixed Music.

Maroney served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music from 2002-2004. He is currently Associate Professor of Music at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. His academic pursuits include research on the music and life of Swiss composer Frank Martin, for which he was awarded a grant from the University of Houston for residency at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel. Mr. Maroney is on the Artistic Board of Musiqa, Houston’s composer-led new music group.