Catalyst Commission

Applications are closed

Musiqa’s Catalyst Commission identifies promising artistic talent and provides mentoring from acclaimed Houston area composers, and professional opportunities in an innovative, contemporary music chamber ensemble. 

 The winner will receive: 

  • Mentorship from MUSIQA’s artistic board composers. 
  • A commission for a 4-7 minute work to be premiered at a Musiqa performance. 
  • A $1,000 stipend. 

The winner will be responsible for: 

  • Attending all Musiqa performances and assisting on concert and dress rehearsal days as needed. 
  • Acting as an ambassador for the ensemble, especially on social media. 
  • Speaking at a pre-concert discussion. 
  • Developing documentation of your creative process in collaboration with Musiqa staff in order to promote the work and engage with new audiences. 
  • Engaging in virtual or in-person composition seminars with young composition students in Houston. 
  • Participating as a first round judge in the following year’s competition. 
  • Granting Musiqa limited rights to promote the resulting composition, including but not limited to possible reproduction on CDs, in our online library and elsewhere. 


  • Self-motivated with a strong interest in contemporary music. 
  • Have completed at least a Bachelor’s degree in music within the last five years, preferably in music composition. 
  • Live in the Houston area and have reliable transportation.  
  • Have basic knowledge of standard word processing and social media programs. 

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. The initial judging round of scores and music will be done blind. Judges will not have access to composer demographic information or resume during the submission review process. 

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

  • Two (2) anonymized scores or excerpts (PDF format only) with accompanying recordings (MP3 format only), each under 5 minutes in length. PDF and MP3 file titles must contain only the work’s title: 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 11, 2023. Submissions should be sent only to the email address provided on the application form.  Application forms will be available on July 31, 2023. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. Selection of the fellowship will be announced no later than October 1, 2023. Musiqa will not retain any submission materials after the fellowship has 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.


2021-22 Season

Sam Wu

Sam Wu’s music deals with the beauty in blurred boundaries. Many of his works center around extra-musical themes: architecture and urban planning, climate science, and the search for exoplanets that harbor life. Selected for the American Composers Orchestra’s EarShot readings and the Tasmanian Symphony’s Australian Composers’ School, winner of an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and First Prize at the Washington International Competition, Sam Wu also received Harvard’s Robert Levin Prize and Juilliard’s Palmer Dixon Prize. Sam’s collaborations span five continents, most notably with the orchestras of Minnesota, Sarasota, Melbourne, Tasmania, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, New York City Ballet, The Kennedy Center, National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Sydney International Piano Competition, the Lontano, Parker, Argus, ETHEL, and icarus Quartets, conductors Osmo Vänskä, Benjamin Northey, Graham Abbott, and Christopher Rountree, sheng virtuoso Wu Wei, and pipa master Wu Man.

2020-21 Season

Nicky Sohn

From ballet to opera to Korean traditional-orchestra, the wide-ranging talent of composer Nicky Sohn is sought after across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Characterized by her jazz-inspired, rhythmically driven themes, Sohn’s work has received praise from international press for being “dynamic and full of vitality” (The Korea Defense Daily), having “colorful orchestration” (NewsBrite), and for its “elegant wonder” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), among many others. As a result, Sohn has enjoyed commissions and performances from the world’s preeminent performing arts institutions, including Stuttgart Ballet, National Orchestra of Korea, St. Louis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra, Aspen Philharmonic, and New York City Ballet.

2019-20 Season

Max Vinetz

Max Vinetz draws inspiration from various intersections between traditional, popular, and improvisatory forms and aesthetics. He has received numerous award and recognition including the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for his work for solo cello, entitled “Allemande,” the Beekman Cannon Friends Prize, and the Abraham Beekman Cox Prize to name a few. Vinetz’s music has additionally been featured at numerous festivals — Norfolk New Music Workshop, Fontainebleau (FR), New Music on the Point, Brevard Music Center, California Summer Music, Red Note New Music Festival, among others — and performed and recorded by Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble for New Music Tallinn, Hear&Now, Copland House Chamber Players, DeCoda, and Mivos Quartet.

2018-19 Season

Niko Yamamoto

Niko Yamamoto (1995) works with integrated systems of sound and action to augment experiences of body and environment. As a composer, their work encompasses an array of performance practices, primarily of music and theatre. Impulse, feedback, and resonance are frequently explored as processes to guide development and deterioration. As an artist-scholar of sound and technology in the context of music performance, their research investigates systems of expression in documentation, interpretation, and delivery, relative to the spaces they occupy or embody, to critically address experience in composition of moment.

2017-18 Season

Theo Chandler
Theo Chandler is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, studying with Anthony Brandt. Chandler is the recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and a Morton Gould Award from ASCAP. He was selected as the winner of Juilliard’s Orchestra Competition, Juilliard’s Gena Raps Competition, the New Juilliard Ensemble Competition, and the Maryland Wind Festival Call for Scores. Chandler has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center, Les Délices, and others. He has been a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival and School. For the summer of 2018, he has received a fellowship to Copland House CULTIVATE and has been invited for the I-Park Composer + Musicians Collaborative Residency. He received his previous degrees from The Juilliard School and Oberlin Conservatory, studying composition with Melinda Wagner, Samuel Adler, Steven Stucky, and Lewis Nielson.

2016-17 Season

Timothy Roy
Timothy Roy composes music steeped in imagery and allusion, which often seeks to conjure a sense of time, place, and feeling. His work has been presented nationally and internationally, with performances at the Music Biennale Zagreb, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, Denison University’s “Tutti” New Music Festival, Studio 300 Digital Art & Music Festival, Center of Cypriot Composers, Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) National Conference, Sweet Thunder Music Festival, radioCona (Slovenia), and the International Electroacoustic Music Festival of Chile, “Ai-maako.”

2015-16 Season

Joel Love
Hailed as “extremely moving” by New Music Box and “lovely and communal” by the Austin American Statesman, the music of Joel Love (b. 1982) explores an eclectic mix of genres, from short video pieces to works for chamber and large ensembles. Joel was commissioned to compose a new work, Lightscape, for the opening of light artist James Turrell’s The Color Inside in 2013. The Houston Chronicle commented that Lightscape “evocatively captures the emotion of The Color Inside.” Joel is the only two-time winner of the PARMA Recordings Composition Competition, which selected Lux and Synchronicity in Purple Minor for publication.

2014-15 Season

Charles Halka
Charles Halka writes acoustic and electronic music for concert, dance, and opera, and his works are often inspired by language, visual imagery, movement, and human experience. His music has been performed in North America, Europe, Brazil, and Hong Kong, including performances by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, the Lviv Philharmoniccounter)inductionCallithumpian ConsortMivos QuartetVoltiÓNIX Ensamble (Mexico), PRO ARTE eNsemble (Russia), Aquarius(Belgium), Duplum Dúo (Mexico), Jauna Muzika (Lithuania), and Pictures on Silence, among others.