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Composition Opportunity

Basel Composition Competition 2021

  • Deadline date: 31 Jul 2020 [Delivery Deadline]
  • Date held: 3 to 7 March 2021
  • Location: Basel, Switzerland
  • Total prizes: CHF 100,000
  • Entry fee: CHF 25


Further Details

NOTICE (March 11, 2020): Prospective applicants for overseas opportunities should refer to the Australian government's Smart Traveller website for information on travel restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Furthermore, prospective applicants are advised to refer to the opportunity websites for information about cancellations, or rescheduling, of opportunities.

The "Basel Composition Competition" was created in honour of Paul Sacher, inviting musicians of all ages and nationalities to bring their works to Basel for their world premiere. Four of these works will be selected through a careful process during the period of 3-7 March 2021 and will then be awarded monetary prizes at the closing ceremony.


The 'Basel Composition Competition' (BCC) is an international event held biennially in collaboration with the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel to give recognition to works for chamber and symphony orchestra. Following the success of the two events in February 2017 and 2019, a third Competition is to be held from 3 to 7 March 2021 under the directorship of Jury President Michael Jarrell.


31 July 2020, 23.59 (CET) Registration and payment deadline
16 October 2020, 23.59 (CET) Receipt by the Competition Office of the score in both electronic form and hard copy
9 November 2020 Announcement of nominated works
7 December 2020, 23.59 (CET) Receipt of the computer-written orchestral parts and score by email
28 February 2021 Nominated composers travel to Basel, Switzerland (obligatory!)
1 March 2021 Orchestras begin rehearsals and composers visit schools
3 March 2021, 6.30 pm 1st Competition concert (Kammerorchester Basel)
4 March 2021, 6.30 pm 2nd Competition concert (Sinfonieorchester Basel)
5 March 2021, 6.30 pm 3rd Competition concert (Basel Sinfonietta)
6 March 2021, 6.30 pm 4th Competition concert (Kammerorchester Basel)
7 March 2021, 11.00 am Final and BCC award ceremony



The Competition is open to all living composers, with no limitation as to age or nationality, with the exception of previous BCC award-winners.


The BCC will consider new orchestral works with the following instrumentation which have never previously been performed (in whole or in part) and have never won an award:

Chamber orchestra:

Woodwind: 2-2-2-2; Brass: 2-2-0-0; a maximum of two musicians for Timpani and Percussion; Strings: 6-6-4-4-2.
The following woodwind instruments may be included (also as a secondary instrument):
Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute,
Oboe, Cor Anglais,
Clarinet, E Flat Clarinet, Bass Clarinet Bassoon, Contrabassoon.

A work composed solely for strings is also acceptable.

A list of prohibited percussion instruments can be downloaded from the website www.baselcompetition.com .

Symphony orchestra:

Woodwind: 3-3-3-3; Brass: 4-3-3-1; a maximum of three musicians for Timpani and Percussion; Harp (1), one musician
for Celesta and Piano, Strings: 8-8-6-5-4.

The following woodwind instruments may be included (also as a secondary instrument):
Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute,
Oboe, Cor Anglais,
Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Bass Clarinet Bassoon, Contrabassoon.

A list of permitted percussion instruments can be downloaded from the website www.baselcompetition.com .

Chamber and symphony orchestras may not consist of more instruments than the number indicated above. Individual instruments or groups of instruments may be omitted, but additional instruments may not be included. Any works which do not comply with these rules shall be excluded from the Competition. Nor shall works for solo instruments be considered. You should ensure that your use of percussion instruments and special orchestral formations does not pose practical problems. Should you win an award, there will then be a greater likelihood of the composition finding its way into the regular concert repertoire, which is an explicit objective of the BCC. Works should be between 10 and 20 minutes in duration.


Registration shall not be finalised until all of the following steps have been completed in full and as specified.

2.3.1) STEP ONE:

Complete the online application form at www.baselcompetition.com .

Submit the registration fee of CHF 55. This fee is non-refundable. The payment process is handled by the provider Stripe (https://stripe.com/ch) and takes places via a secure connection.

2.3.2) STEP TWO:

Submit the anonymous score as a PDF document by email to helene@artisticmanagement.eu AND as a hard copy, ideally on A3 paper (but otherwise in A4 format) by post to Stiftung Basel Composition Competition, c/o Artistic Management GmbH, Byfangweg 22, CH-4051 Basel.

The score may not contain any indications as to the identity of the composer. Only the title of the work may be written on the title page. Upon receipt by the Competition Office, the score will be registered and allocated an identification code.
The score may be submitted as either a hand-written or a computer-written document, but must be easily legible. In the event of nomination, the score and individual orchestral parts (which must be computer- written) are to be sent by email to the above address by the given deadline.

Scores submitted by post should be accompanied by a sealed envelope containing an A4 sheet on which is written the name of the entrant and the title of the work.

Both the digital and the printed score must reach the Competition Office by the deadline specified in Section 1; the date of the postmark shall be considered irrelevant!

Scores which have been submitted shall not be returned.


3.1) THE JURY:

The jury shall comprise the composers Michael Jarrell (Jury President), Unsuk Chin, Beat Furrer, Andrea Scartazzini and Felix Meyer, the Director of the Paul Sacher Foundation. One representative from each orchestra will also join the jury to help select which entries are to go through to the next round of the Competition.

The Jury is expected to shortlist six works for chamber orchestra and six for symphony orchestra, all of which will be premiered at the BCC. Four of these twelve works will then be selected and performed for a second time in the final round; prizes will be awarded to three of these in turn at the end of the concert. The Jury's decision shall be final. No reasons shall be given for its adjudication, and no feedback shall be provided on the compositions. The Jury is at liberty to alter the proportion and number of works during the shortlisting process as well as during the Competition.


The nominated composers must attend the rehearsals and concerts; this is a precondition for participation in the Competition. They should also be prepared to take part in fringe activities. The BCC shall provide hotel accommodation for the duration of the Competition, as well as one return-trip flight in economy class or second-class return rail ticket to Basel. The composers shortlisted by the Jury will receive an award of CHF 1,000 in cash in recognition of their attendance in Basel. If the entrant withdraws from the Competition, the Competition Office must be provided with a satisfactory explanation. Otherwise, the composer shall be invoiced for his or her travel and hotel expenses.


The compositions will be performed during the Competition concerts by Kammerorchester Basel, Sinfonieorchester Basel or the Basel Sinfonietta. The composer agrees that the payment referred to in Section 3.2 legally entitles the organisers of the BCC to have the work premiered at the Competition concert. Provided the composer has registered the work with SUISA (Swiss Cooperative Society for Music Authors and Publishers), the latter shall be responsible for collecting performance rights in relation to any additional performances of the work in Switzerland (including, potentially, at the final concert on 7 March 2021). Nominees are asked to supply a description of the work for the evening programme, which should also be recited live by the composers as an introduction to their works.


The laureate composers shall receive the following awards:

First Prize: CHF 60,000;
Second Prize: CHF 25,000;
Third Prize: CHF 10,000.

The Jury is entitled to withhold any or all of the prizes.

Audience prize: CHF 5,000 (awarded by the audience at the Final).

The awards are inclusive of the recognition payment specified in 3.2. and shall be paid by bank transfer without the deduction of tax.


For each nominated work, the BCC shall retain one full score and one set of orchestral parts for the Paul Sacher Foundation archives.

The winners are kindly requested to make reference to the award in their biographies and in the winning score.

Participants agree to an audio-visual recording being made for radio, TV and the internet, as well as to the unrestricted use of photo and video material relating to the entire period of the Competition, including rehearsals, school visits, etc.

The BCC reserves the right to provide its own resolution to all issues not covered by the regulations and to make exceptions in specific and well-justified cases. The Jury's decision is final.

Website: https://www.baselcompetition.com/en/


Contact: Basel Composition Competition

Mailing Address: c/o Artistic Management GmbH Byfangweg 22 CH-4051 Basel GERMANY

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