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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Composer Institute


The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute offers a unique week-long intensive immersion into the world of a major American symphony orchestra culminating in a concert performance and live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. Under the guidance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Institute Director, Kevin Puts, up to seven composers will have orchestral works rehearsed and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and will participate in a series of seminars on musical, career, and professional development topics in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. All works selected for the 2020 Composer Institute Institute will be performed in a public concert conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä on Friday, January 10, 2020, at 8 p.m.

The 17th annual Composer Institute will be held January 6 to 10, 2020, culminating in a public MusicMakers concert on January 10, 2020, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä. The selected composers will be announced in summer 2019.

The 16th Composer Institute was held January 14 to 18, 2019. Click here for the Composer Institute booklet of program notes, composer biographies and other information about the Composer Institute and the January 18, 2019, Future Classics concertClick here to read the press release announcing the January 2019 Composer Institute participants.

2018-19 Composer Institute: January 14-18, 2019

Lawrenceville, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
New York, New York
Resonant Bells
Pelham, New York
New York, New York
Melodia for Piano and Orchestra
Lilburn, Georgia
Over Collapsing Cities of Steel
Dix Hills, New York
in somnis

Click here for the Composer Institute booklet of program notes, composer biographies and other information about the Composer Institute and the January 18, 2019, Future Classics concert.

Click here to read the press release announcing the January 2019 Composer Institute participants.

More about the Composer Institute

The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is unique in the nation in its combination of orchestral rehearsals, public performance and numerous targeted workshops, with music industry leaders speaking on musical, career, business and professional development issues. The Institute nurtures the participants’ musical acumen and broadens their career management skills, assisting in their growth as artists and community leaders. Seminar topics include many not offered elsewhere, including advanced instrumental and orchestral writing, copyrights, commissioning, licensing, publishing, promotion, music preparation, public speaking, working with conductors and union orchestras, community residencies, CD and media production, and working in educational settings, among others.

“The week at the Composer Institute was one of the best weeks in my life,” says Ming-Hsiu Yen, a 2008 Institute participant. “The first-rate music education system in the United States is what brought me here from Taiwan, and the conservatory training that I received has been invaluable in making me a better musician. There has been nothing, however, that could compare to what I learned in a week at the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.”

The Composer Institute is an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s “Perfect Pitch” program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers launched during the 1995-96 season in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. Perfect Pitch was reformulated in 2001 as the Composer Institute, as the program’s focus broadened and national participation was invited.

About the Composer Institute's leaders and seminar faculty

In June 2014 the Orchestra announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts has been appointed director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. The Composer Institute was founded in 2002 by the Orchestra and composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who directed the program for its first 11 seasons. Music Director Osmo Vänskä oversaw the program’s expansion in 2006 to include a public “Future Classics” performance of works by Composer Institute participants, which he conducts annually. The Institute’s past seminar faculty have included such industry leaders as American Composers Forum president and CEO John Nuechterlein; Ed Harsh, president of New Music USA; composer and music engraving expert William Holab of Bill Holab Music; attorney James M. Kendrick; composer advocate Frank J. Oteri of New Music USA; composers Stephen Paulus, Alex Shapiro and Steven Stucky; and numerous musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra.

The January 2019 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is generously sponsored by The Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Hella Mears Hueg and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

We gratefully acknowledge the American Composers Forum as our partner in presenting the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

American Composers Forum