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2019 Young Composers Contest


UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (USA) – The Penn State School of Music and Composition Program has named three winners of the 2019 Young Composers Contest. The winners are Owen Johnson (Greensburg, PA), Ash Paris-Carter (Winston-Salem, NC), and Rohan Srinivasan (Portland, OR). Each of the winning composers will receive a $100 prize and a one-hour composition lesson and career consultation with Dr. Baljinder Sekhon. The submitted works will also be considered for programming on the Penn State New-Music Concert which will take place on April 24, 2020.

The Penn State 2019 Young Composers Contest was announced in August 2019 and received over 70 submissions from 18 U.S. states and 13 countries. The contest was open to juniors and seniors in high school. This year marks the inaugural Penn State Young Composers Contest.

Owen Johnson

Composition: Humming

Owen Johnson grew up in Greensburg, Pennsylvania surrounded by music. Johnson is very passionate about learning new techniques to write and play music, and getting to know an instrument in order to write for it. Opportunities to work with live musicians in the past led Owen to strive toward exploring the possibilities of different instruments. Owen’s aim is to write music that fits an instrument and create effects that are achievable for live musicians. Owen finds composing to be frustrating and difficult, but the satisfaction of creating something makes the struggle worth it in the end. His winning piece, entitled Humming, relates to the idea of the conception of music in his head. When that lucky spark occurs, Owen hums.

Ash Paris-Carter

Composition: the unlit place

Hailing from New York, Ash Paris-Carter is an 11th grader in the UNC School of the Arts high school program studying composition. Since the age of eleven, Ash has been studying composition at the Walden School summer music camp and festival. Ash also has an extensive vocal background, including experience singing in the Manhattan Girls Chorus, where they performed backup vocals for several notable artists at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center. Ash also was a student at Mannes Pre-College in New York as both a composition major and a voice major. In 2017, they received the Irving Berlin Summer Camp Scholarship Award from ASCAP. Ash is very inspired by modern choral masters such as Matthew Harris and Eric Whitacre, but also loves to draw from the theatricality of rock stars like David Bowie and Prince.

Rohan Srinivasan

Composition: Hesitation

Rohan Srinivasan has been composing for the last three years. He has been commissioned by Portland's Metropolitan Youth Symphony and has participated twice in Fear No Music's Young Composer Project. Rohan is also interested in jazz and has been part of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble's "Grasshoppers" program. He studies composition with Dr. Ryan Francis. Rohan is a junior at Sunset High School; he is part of his school's jazz band and is active in clubs such as racquetball, history, and the National Honor Society. Besides composing, he enjoys painting and spending time in nature.

Penn State Music Composition and Technology Program

The Music Composition and Technology programs at Penn State include first-rate studios and cutting-edge curricula in acoustic composition and music technology. The Music Composition program provides students with a comprehensive training, including composition of concert music, film scoring, songwriting, and electroacoustic music. Acoustic and electronic composition courses, private lessons, weekly seminar meetings, and master classes comprise the core of study. Several concerts devoted to presenting student compositions take place each year. Although the program is heavily focused on works for the concert hall, music technology plays a major role in the composition curriculum. In addition to composing works for solo, chamber, large-ensemble, and computer-music genres, composition students carryout a series of career-building projects focused on music business, as well as score study, listening assignments, and reading assignments.

Music technology studies are offered through an option to the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, as well as through a Music Technology Minor. Students working in the Music Technology area are exposed to a broad range of pursuits, including audio production with a digital audio workstation, recording in a professional-quality studio, music programming in software such as Max/MSP and SuperCollider, musical acoustics, and electroacoustic music history and culture. The minor attracts students from diverse majors such as Electrical Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology, and Journalism. The major allows students to earn a degree in a liberal arts-based music degree with a focus in music recording and computer technologies.


Dr. Baljinder S. Sekhon II,

Assistant Professor of Composition

Application Deadline: October 1, 2019 (11:59pm EST)

Attention Young Composers!

The School of Music at Penn State University is pleased to announce the 2019 Penn State Young Composers Contest. The contest is open to juniors and seniors in high school during the 2019/2020 school year.

Three composers will be named winners in the 2019 Penn State Young Composers Contest. A minimum of one winner will be selected from the state of Pennsylvania.

Each of the winning composers will receive:
     >$100 prize
     >1-hour virtual or in-person composition lesson/consultation with Dr. Baljinder Sekhon
     >Possible performance of the winning work on the Spring 2020 New-Music Concert held April 24, 2020 (contingent upon instrumentation of work and availability of performers).
     >Work and composer featured on the Penn State Composition social media sites.

Composers of all nationalities are encouraged to apply. There is no entry fee.

A panel consisting of Penn State faculty and students will evaluate the pieces and choose the winning entries.

All applications must be completed and received by October 1, 2019 (11:59pm EST). The winning entries will be announced by January 15, 2020.

Rules & Guidelines:
     >Composer must be a junior or senior in high school during the 2019/2020 school year.
     >Work can be any duration.
     >Any instrumentation, including works for digital media, are eligible.
     >Works for acoustic ensembles or instrumental soloists must be submitted with a notated score (PDF file only).
     >Works for digital media must include a one-paragraph description of the work and the hardware/software used to create it.
     >No more than two submissions per composer.

Please direct any questions to Dr. Baljinder Sekhon: