The Jon Deak First Music Program, the New York Youth Symphony’s young composer competition, commissions America’s best emerging orchestra, chamber music, and jazz composers under the age of 30. It has been widely acknowledged as one of the leading forces in the United States for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention. Seven awards are given each season for orchestral, jazz, and chamber music compositions.
According to Symphony Magazine, “During the last two decades, no youth orchestra in the country has been more relentlessly committed to generating new music.” The NYYS is proud to have commissioned over 170 original works for orchestra, chamber music, and jazz through First Music since 1984, all of which have been premiered by NYYS ensembles at venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. First Music commissions have been awarded to Aaron J. Kernis, David Lang, Kevin Puts, Julia Wolfe, Michael Torke, and Timo Andres, among others. We are proud that First Music composers have been recognized with 12 Rome Prizes, 16 Guggenheim Fellowships, two Grawemeyer Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes.
Jon Deak is a prominent instrumentalist who served for many years as the Associate Principal Bassist of the New York Philharmonic. As a composer, he has written over 300 works, and has had his music played by Orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. His Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, “The Headless Horseman,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. His music may also be heard on several TV series and many recordings.
In 1995 Jon founded the Very Young Composers at the New York Philharmonic, an award-winning program, whereby public school children, aged 9 – 13 with or without previous musical training create, notate, and experience their very own music performed by Philharmonic musicians — sometimes the full Orchestra — with Philharmonic Teaching Artists assisting as mentors and scribes.
The Jon Deak First Music Commissioning Program was made possible by the generous support of NYYS Trustee, A. Slade Mills and Phyllis Mills.
The most impressive record for championing new music of any ensemble in the United States.
The New York Times
For the 2024/25 Season, one composer will be awarded a commission of $3,000, with premieres in Carnegie Hall and Interlochen Center for the Arts. One additional composer will be awarded a commission of $1,500 and a première at Carnegie Hall. The commissioned works must be previously unpublished and unperformed.
For the 2024/25 Season, one composer will be awarded a commission of $2,000, with a premiere at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and Interlochen Center for the Arts. The Director of the Chamber Music Program in conjunction with the awardee will determine the instrumentation of the commissioned piece. The commissioned work must be previously unpublished and unperformed.
For the 2024/25 Season, one composer will be awarded a commission of $2,000, with premieres in New York City and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Two additional composers will be awarded commissions of $1,000 each with premieres at venues in New York City. The commissioned works must be previously unpublished and unperformed.
To qualify for the 2024-25 Season, First Music Commission applicants must be under the age of 30 on December 31, 2023 and be able to provide the following materials:
1. A five-minute audio excerpt of an original composition (your submission) or MIDI as well as a full recording of the same original composition or MIDI
2. PDF version of the score of the same original composition
3. Proof of US Citizenship or legal permanent residency (birth certificate, passport, or green card)
4. Resume/List of Previous Works
Please note: Previous awardees of a First Music commission are not eligible to apply again.
Commissioned composers play an integral role in helping the organization to fulfill its mission to educate and inspire young musicians. The composition itself serves as the basis for myriad interactions for the composer with the New York Youth Symphony stakeholders, including the artistic and administrative staff, the students, and the audience.
Composers meet with the music directors to discuss various technical and musical aspects of their piece in order to help the directors get the most out of rehearsals with the NYYS ensemble performing the work.
The NYYS mission is to educate and inspire young musicians. Composers will speak directly to members of the ensemble performing their work about the inspiration for and meaning of their piece. This is a unique opportunity for NYYS students to experience a "teaching moment" from contemporary composers and learn from their insights. It also helps composers achieve their artistic vision for the premier performance of their work.
These notes are a meaningful component of the commission, and will guide the composer's collaboration with the music directors, direct interaction with students, and the program notes that audience members will read.Download Comissions
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