Composition Contest: Frequently Asked Questions
About the FNMC Competition
FNMC hosts its annual Composition Competition to connect members of the flute new music community to new works by talented composers. FNMC is proud of the performances and commissions it has had the honor to organize – but even more proud of the collaborations that have evolved between its members and its composers. Several of our finalists have collaborated with FNMC members to commission new works beyond the competition. One FNMC composer and FNMC member created a new music ensemble. What other relationships will develop from connections fostered by FNMC? Only time will tell.
What happens if I win?
Winning composers receive a cash prize - for 2021, $500 USD. FNMC distributes the score (and parts, as applicable) of each winning work to members, and are given performance rights for one year. Note that the rights are not exclusive - keep selling your score and organizing your own performances as you see fit! FNMC guarantees at least one performance of winning works, although many works receive multiple performances. We encourage members to report their performances, which we list here for the composer's convenience.
We list contact and website information for both winning composers and finalists here. Many of our members have shared that they use the results page to connect with other works by winning and finalist composers. (Anecdotally, members of the board report that some of the non-flutist spouses do the same.) Many of the winners - and finalists! - report receiving greater attention from the flute community after the FNMC competition, and especially after FNMC performances. Will this happen for you? Nothing is guaranteed, but we hope so.
What happens if there's a pandemic?
That's a great question, and now we have an answer! The world is an unpredictable place, these days. When COVID cancelled most U.S. performances for ... all of 2020 ... the composition competition was already underway. We didn't want the composers who had already entered to miss out, so we sponsored #FNMCLivingRoomPerformances, a competition for performers - using the composition competition winners as required pieces! The 2020 composers got high-quality video recordings of their works and got to share their works with the flute community beyond FNMC. It wasn't the same, but we tried to make the best of a bad situation.
What happens to my entry fee?
Since 2013, we've kept the entry fee low, capping it at $15 since 2019. (It's very common for flute competition fees to start at $45 and they go up from there.) Our aim is to keep the competition accessible for as many composers as possible. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, FNMC runs with a fairly low overhead - there is no swanky central office, all officers/board members are volunteers, competition judges are unpaid, and much of the advertising is done through social media and word of mouth. In addition to paying their membership fees, performers pay their own way to conferences, etc. We estimate that 97-98% of the income generated is returned to the composition community in some capacity - whether that be through prizes or subsequent commissions. The remaining 2-3% funds out website (Hi!) and smaller advertisements throughout the year. We're not here to take your money; we're here because we love new music.
Question: Are the FNMC's performance or recording rights exclusive?
No. Members of the FNMC will perform - and sometimes record - the winning piece. To do this, the FNMC members need performance and recording rights to the piece. These are not exclusive rights, and the composer should continue to arrange performances and recordings of their work as they wish. Winning composers are asked to reference FNMC in all program notes for the piece going forward.
Please note: your work WILL be distributed. If you reference the creative or intellectual property of another person (poetry text, visual art, or extended quotation of another work), you must have the secured the legal rights to distribute the work before entering the competition. Please note that we are a U.S. based organization, and will adhere to U.S. copyright standards.
Question: Who receives copies of the winning scores?
Winning scores are made available to FNMC Performance level and FNMC Commissioning level flutists who are current members during that competition year. For instance, if your piece won the 2015 competition, members for the 2015-16 year would receive a PDF your score (and parts as necessary).
Question: How are winners chosen?
Each category of the FNMC Composition Competition is judged in two rounds. The blind round is judged by a panel compromised of professional flutists and composers. Preliminary round feedback, if requested, is written by the blind round judges. We endeavor to fill each judging panel with a variety of evaluators who possess a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. In the semi-final round, winners are selected from a vote of FNMC members.
Question: When will semi-finalists be notified?
FNMC is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, and the competition is no exception - the competition coordinator and all judges are volunteers. We endeavor to share semi-final results within a month of the competition deadline, and to make feedback available (if requested in the application) with those results. This can sometimes be an enormous undertaking, and there are occasionally delays. Expect to receive results over the weekend, at odd hours, and occasionally on national holidays.
Question: When will winners be notified?
FNMC Members select the winner of each category by vote. Finals winners for all categories are typically posted to the FNMC website by November.
Question: If requested, what should I expect from competition feedback?
In the 2017 competition, we moved to a Likert-scale type feedback form with room for optional free-form commentary. This differed from feedback in previous competition years which emphasized free-form comments. While we'd prefer to have each judge provide detailed comments about each entry, the change is intended to provide more clarity in judging feedback. To quote one of the 2016 judges, "Sometimes, it's as easy as saying I don't like this harmony or multiphonic. Sometimes, it's like explaining why I don't like tomatoes."
Further, the judging panels generally consist of performing flutists and composers; each judge will evaluate works based on their individual backgrounds. Feedback is intended only to provide some insight into how decisions were made in that particular category in that particular year. Some performers have strong opinions about scores which are legible on tablets and will view your score as a PDF; some insist upon scores to be printed on 11x17 pages for legibility. Some of the composers specialize in self-publication and hold scores to their own standards, while others work with traditional publishing houses and look for different aesthetics. Some performers are based at large universities or live in metropolitan areas and will have no trouble recruiting a mini-Pierrot ensemble; other performers are freelancers or based in rural areas and will prefer more minimal instrumentation. The diverse judging panel is intended to mirror the musical community. Don't make yourself crazy trying to please everyone - just focus on being the best version of yourself!
Question: Must I receive competition feedback?
No. In the flute world, receiving competition feedback is very uncommon. Some members of the competition team felt strongly that competitions can be rather inhumane and would like to know what happens behind the scenes. Other members of the competition team felt strongly that there should be a clear "yes" or "no" and other information is extraneous. Which type are you? Take a moment to reflect before completing your application.
Question: Will I receive a confirmation of my submission?
You will receive a confirmation when you have completed your entry. A separate email will not be sent.
Question: I paid the entry fee, but have decided to withdraw my piece. Can my entry fee be refunded?
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions, refunds will no longer be offered. Please read all materials carefully before clicking "submit"!
Question: Why am I limited to five performers in the chamber works category?
Winners of each competition category are guaranteed at least one FNMC organized performance, but ideally we'd like to see works receive multiple performances. (We want to play good music!) In reviewing performances from the last few years of the competition, larger works have not received as much attention. Winning works tend to be programmed in places where flutists congregate - regional flute fairs and the NFA Convention, for example - but where opportunities for large, mixed ensembles are limited. We give equal consideration to works of any instrumentation, but would like to shape the competition to reflect the performance habits of our members.
Question: What instruments should "chamber works" include?
The Flute New Music Consortium will accept all entries that use the flute in any capacity! This includes piece for flute(s) as well as flute and string, percussion, or woodwind instruments, provided the instrumentation fits within the designated number of players. Again, we tend to program in places where flutists congregate - some of the most performed works have been flute trios, quartets, and quintets!
Question: Should I include works for low flutes?
Of course; we are happy to consider all instruments from the flute family! Keep in mind: performances will be contingent upon members' access to your instruments. Many of our members teach or are enrolled in an academic institution and will have access to an alto or a bass flute, but this will not be the case for everyone. Contrabass flute prices begin at $10k - many university flute studios do not own one, which might make a work for flute quartet plus contrabass inaccessible for many members.
Question: Should I include works for glissando headjoint/other new equipment?
Of course; we are happy to consider all works for flute. Keep in mind: performances will be contingent upon members' access to the equipment necessary for your piece.
Question: My piece has not yet been performed and contains extended techniques which cannot be accurately captured by MIDI. What should I do?
Make sure your score is clear about your wishes, and use MIDI to get as close to the "real" sound as you can. While we understand that MIDI is not ideal for some pieces, we use a recording as part of the judging process. This will ensure that your piece receives fair consideration. Works without an audio recording/MIDI file will be disqualified.
Question: Do I need to be based in the United States to submit a piece?
No. Composers from all locations are encouraged.
Question: Is there an age limit?
No. Composers of all ages and experience levels are encouraged to submit their work.
Question: I don't see the answer to my question here! How long will it take to receive a reply?
Please send all situation-specific questions to the competition coordinator here. We try to respond to all emails as quickly as possible, but sometimes step away from the computer for important flute business. Please allow up to two business days for a reply.