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Lisker Music Foundation (LMF) is a passionate non-profit organization which strives to support young artists by offering them the platform to showcase their brilliant abilities, while simultaneously infusing the community with world class music making. 

We are very excited to announce the 3rd Annual Composition Challenge!



Compose a work for string quartet (2 violins, viola, and cello) exploring the human experience as it makes its way through a global pandemic.


2020 will go down in history as the year of COVID-19, a global pandemic which left no person unaffected.  But it is in times of turmoil and hardship when the greatest works of art are produced, because it is only through the arts that we can truly capture the essence of what people are experiencing at such moments.




Through this challenge we wish for composers to explore different aspects of the pandemic’s impact.  From the time leading up to It, when some were afraid, some disregarded the possibility of such an event or were in disbelief – to being in the midst of it – handling the rise in case numbers, rise in death numbers, eventual social lockdowns as the governments across the country and world tried to make the right decisions.


We wish to explore the obvious negatives, but also the possibility of positives and potential sources of inspiration – the forced confrontation with our own personal lives, our dependence on work and distractions, and the relationships which we took for granted.  Explore the evolution of society as a whole, the experience within a household – the strains on families – as well as the emotions that pass through the individual as they start the pandemic, live through the pandemic, and exit out of it.  Fear, stress, anxiety, hope, boredom, positivity, love, compassion, etc.


Some possible approaches would be:

  1. Separate before, during, after the pandemic into movements

  2. Focus on Society as a whole

  3. Focus on 1 family’s experience

  4. Focus on 1 individual

  5. Focus on one singular event or aspect that occurred during the pandemic

  6. Depict in some way how an individual or society as a whole evolved having dealt with the pandemic.


These are just general ideas to help guide you, but are by no means limitations with which you can approach this challenge.  Discover your own idea, which might represents your personal style and creativity.


                $1000 Grand Prize

  • World Premiere of the Winning Original Composition  in the LMF  Concert Season 2021-2022  if COVID guidelines permit

  • Professional level Audio/Video recording from the premier        

This award is sponsored by

United Realty Group 


  • Applicants must be 40 years or younger at time of submission

  • Composition must not exceed 10 minutes in duration

  • Work must be written for String Quartet (2 violins, viola, and cello)

  • One work per applicant




  • Organization of pitch elements (such as melody, harmony, and counterpoint)

  • Organization of rhythmic elements

  • Formal design

  • Accuracy and clarity of notation

  • Appropriate writing for instruments and/or voices



  • Stylistic coherence (regardless of the particular style)

  • Effective handling of unity/variety and tension/release

  • Effective use of dynamics, articulations, and expression marks

  • Interaction of all of the elements (atmosphere, mood, direction, and flow of the music)



  • Refers to aspects of the piece that reveal the composer’s individual “voice” and distinguish the piece from a musical exercise or a direct imitation of another piece

  • The ultimate effectiveness in delivering the story and inspiration of the Challenge; referring to the idea, background, impact, and development.


  • Application for the Composition Challenge must be received by December 1st, 2020.

  • Bio is no longer than 300 words. High-Definition Picture must be attached.

  • The application with computer-generated PDF score and MIDI file must be submitted online or attached to email.

  • Proof of age (copy of a passport, state issued ID, birth certificate, etc)

  • Essay (1-Page Max) describing your work, and how you approached integrating the outlined challenge into your creative process, and its outcome.

  • The chosen composition is not subject to change.

  • Plagiarism of copyrighted material is illegal. It is the responsibility of the composer to assure that music submitted is not copyrighted. If any elements of the composition entry are copyrighted, it is the responsibility of the composer to secure permission for use of those elements.



  • The winning work will be announced via email no later than the end of December, 2020.

  • The winner will receive a Cash Award and a diploma in the mail.

  • The jury decision is final and not to be discussed. 

  • LMF reserves the right to use photos and videos taken during the concert performance, recorded prior to the stage performance, promotion company’s future events, and publish them on its website or social networks.


         **Please view application for checklist to be sure your submission is complete**

Online: Provide a link to DropBox, Google Drive, or other site from which we can download your materials. Application must be organized in a cloud folder (dropbox, google drive, etc.) and shared with AND

All materials must be received by December 1st, 2020

You are encouraged to ask questions about any aspect of this challenge. 

We are happy to answer your emails, speak with you on the phone to provide any additional direction or instruction that might help you produce a piece of music you are proud of!

For more info:     ǀ     (847) 272-7003



  • Filled out and signed the application form

  • 1-page bio

  • Score and Parts for the composition

  • A recording of the piece (Midi/Synthesized Software Rendering is Acceptable)

  • Essay (1-Page Max) describing your work, and how you approached integrating the outlined challenge into your creative process.

  • All application materials must be submitted online by uploading them to a neatly organized folder on Google Drive, DropBox, or another cloud-based site. 

  • All “unlisted” links and cloud-based folders must be shared with



On behalf of the Lisker Music Foundation as well as the Voloshin family who have generously sponsored this competition, we are very excited to announce  Hsu Tzu-Chin and her piece, Dreaming in Sunlight, is the winning composition of the 2019 LMF Composition Challenge! 

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