Composer Commissioning

IMTA / MTNA Composer Commissioning

Mission Statement

MTNA is dedicated to encouraging the creation of new works by American composers and annually assists its affiliated state associations in the generation and performance of new music through the national composers commissioning program. A newly commissioned composition receives its premiere performance at the conference of the state MTA that commissions the work.

Statement of Philosophy

To further promote and recognize outstanding contributions to American music, MTNA annually has its state affiliates submit commissioned compositions to a panel of recognized composers for selection of the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year. The new work of the selected composer is presented in a performance at the MTNA national conference, and the composer is proclaimed the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year. The selected composer receives a $5,000 award.

The composer commissioning committee is happy to announce that Carl Schimmel has been selected as the 2020 IMTA composer of the year. If you have any questions about the commissioning project, contact Dr. Richard Steinbach at:

Tsuga (Hemlock), 2018 Iowa Commissioned Composer, Dr. Charles Nichols Performed by Dr. Richard Steinbach at the 2018 IMTA Conference in Iowa City, Iowa.

MTNA Composer Commissioning Links

Commissioned Composer Guidelines

Composer Commissioning Statement


MTNA Distinguished Composer Awards

Free Downloads

  • Saturnian Moons by 2017 Commissioned Composer, Brooke Joyce
  • Tsuga (Hemlock) for solo piano by Dr. Charles Nichols, 2018 Commissioned Composer
    Download - MP3 Download
  • Between Two Rivers by 2019 Commissioned Composer, Phillip Wharton


The winner of the 2020 Iowa Music Teachers Association Commissioning Project will be commissioned to write a concert piece for solo piano at the intermediate level, approximately 8 minutes in length. The prize will include a $1500 commissioning fee ($750 from Music Teachers National Association, MTNA and $750 from Iowa Music Teachers Association, IMTA).

The new composition will be premiered at the 2020 IMTA State Conference on June 7-9 at the University of Northern Iowa. In addition, the Iowa Composers Forum will provide a $250 honorarium for the performer. The work should be written so as to be playable by an intermediate-level pianist. Representative works at this level include the “Diversions” by Dello Joio and “Four Arabesques” by Persichetti.

ELIGIBILITY: Composers who are currently enrolled in or employed by a college or university in the State of Iowa, or composers who are members of the Iowa Composers Forum on January 1, 2019, or U. S. composers with ties to Iowa are eligible to apply, except those who have been the recipient of a commission by the IMTA within the past five years. The winning composer will be required to join the Iowa Composers Forum if he/she is not already a member.


Please submit a score and recording of one representative work for intermediate musicians, preferably with piano; live recordings are preferable, but MIDI realizations are acceptable. Please send electronic copies of the score (PDF) and recording (mp3) to the following address: In addition, each composer should include in his or her cover letter a brief proposal of the planned piece. Please direct any questions to the chair of the IMTA commissioning committee: Dr. Richard Steinbach, Professor of Piano, Briar Cliff University

The scores and recordings will be submitted to a selection committee consisting of at least one composer and one performer. The selection committee will not be given the names of the composers who are submitting scores and recordings for consideration.

We feel strongly that this competition should be anonymous. Therefore, identify your piece only in your email message, but NOT on the electronic recording or score. To restate, it is the responsibility of each composer to submit his/her score and recording without any identifying information. Thank you.

  • November 1, 2019: The anonymous sample score and recording must be submitted electronically to the email address given above.
  • December 1, 2019: The winner will be announced.
  • April 1, 2020: The completed commissioned work must be presented to the chair of the IMTA Commissioning Committee.
  • June 2020 (1st weekend): The commissioned work will be premiered at the IMTA State Conference, location TBA.
  • October 2020: The winner of the IMTA/ICF Composer Competition will serve as a judge for the 2020 IMTA/ICF Composer Competition.

2020 IMTA Commissioned Composer

News from the 2020 IMTA Composer Commissioning Project

The composer commissioning committee is happy to announce that Carl Schimmel has been selected as the 2020 IMTA composer of the year. If you have any questions about the commissioning project, contact Dr. Richard Steinbach at:

Praised by The New York Times as “vivid and dramatic,” the music of Carl Schimmel is dense with literary and musical references, often humorous, and combines intensity of expression with a structural rigor which is influenced in part by his mathematics background. Winner of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fromm Foundation Commission, Columbia University’s Joseph Bearns Prize, the Lee Ettelson Award, and the 2017 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Schimmel has received honors and awards from many organizations, including the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, New Music USA, and ASCAP. His works have been performed in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Merkin Hall in New York, Severance Hall in Cleveland, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, and at other venues throughout the world. He has received performances and commissions from the American Composers Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, California EAR Unit, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, and many others. A graduate of Duke University (Ph.D.), the Yale School of Music (M.M.), and Case Western Reserve University (B.A. Mathematics and Music), he is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Illinois State University. He resides in Grinnell, IA, with his wife Mariko and their children Otto and Thora.

2019 IMTA Commissioned Composer

News from the 2019 IMTA Composer Commissioning Project

The composer commissioning committee is happy to announce that Philip Wharton has been selected as the 2019 IMTA composer of the year. If you have any questions about the commissioning project, contact Dr. Richard Steinbach at:

Few artists enjoy such high praise for both of their disciplines as composer/violinist Philip Wharton. Of his playing, The New York Times proclaimed, “a rousing performance!” and The Waterloo Courier wrote, “a golden tone with breathtaking execution.” His compositions, heralded from coast to coast, are described by the New York Concert Review as, “…decidedly contemporary…both engaging and accessible.” Writing from symphony to song, past seasons saw the Santa Fe Opera’s remounting of Two Saintes Caught in the Same Act as part of their apprentice scenes program, the Grammy-nominated Borealis Wind Quintet perform his Quintet on their concert tours, his chamber symphony, Passing Season performed by regional orchestras, premiere of his Symphony, his tribute to Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, a song cycle entitled Fools, and concerts with Grammy-nominated soprano, Caroline Worra. Other projects include collaborations with author Janet Burroway and illustrator John Vernon Lord to create musical settings of their books for children: The Giant Jam Sandwich, The Truck on the Track, and a vocal-monodrama, The Perfect Pig. Recent recordings include Albany Records’ release of his Flute Sonata—performed by flutist, Katherine Fink, and pianist Rose Grace, Crescent Phase Records’ release of his Woodwind Quintet—performed by the Madera Woodwind Quintet, and Kenneth Thompkins’ (principal Detroit Symphony Orchestra) recording of his Alto-Trombone Sonata. Expect to see the release of a CD by Elizabeth Sombart with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the coming year.

2018 IMTA Commissioned Composer

News from the IMTA Composer Commissioning Project

The composer commissioning committee is happy to announce that Dr. Charles Nichols has been selected as the 2018 IMTA composer of the year. Dr. Nichols is an Iowa native who presently teaches Composition and Creative Technologies at Virginia Tech University. His new commissioned work for solo piano is titled Tsuga (Hemlock), which will be premiered at the state conference in Iowa City on June 3rd, 2018 . Dr. Nichols plans to be present at the premiere. If you have any questions about the commissioning project, contact Dr. Richard Steinbach at:

Composer and computer music researcher Charles Nichols is an Assistant Professor of Composition and Music Technology at the School of Performing Arts and a Faculty Affiliate of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, at Virginia Tech University. A native of Iowa, Dr. Nichols has earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Yale University, and Stanford University. At Yale, he worked as a Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Music Technology (CSMT) and as a Research Assistant at Haskins Laboratories. At Stanford, he served as the Interim and Associate Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).

His compositions, including acoustic and electroacoustic music, for large and chamber ensembles, and fixed media, accompanying dance and animation, have been presented at conferences and festivals around the world. He has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and National Science Foundation, and commissions from the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts, Drake University, University of Oregon, Temple University, and the Montana State Music Teachers Association. His recent premieres include Il Prete Rosso, for amplified violin, motion sensor, and computer, that controls audio effects with a wireless motion sensor on the bow hand of the violinist, and Nicolo, Jimi, and John, a three movement concerto, for amplified viola, orchestra, and computer, inspired by the virtuosity of Paganini, Hendrix, and Coltrane.

2017 IMTA Commissioned Composer

The 2017 IMTA Commissioned Composer was Brooke Joyce and his new piano work, "Saturnian Moons" which was premiered at our state convention June 2017 in Ames, Iowa held at Iowa State University.

Brooke Joyce’s music has been described as “vividly pictorial” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “exceptionally gripping” (Los AngelesTimes) and has been performed by soloists and ensembles around the world, including the Indianapolis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Brentano Quartet, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Nash Ensemble, and James Gilchrist. In addition to his concert music, Brooke collaborated on several musical theater works with playwright Frederick Gaines, including Unbekannt, a musical based on the life of the famous Anastasia pretender Anna Anderson, and An Imaginary Line, based on the book Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer. A CD of his chamber music, Waves of Stone, was released on the Innova label in 2009, and according to MusicWeb International, features “dramatic pieces which are rhythmically energetic, with ... a sense of underlying strength of will.”

Brooke is the recipient of the Joseph Bearns Prize, the Wayne Peterson Prize, the Darius Milhaud Award, and many citations from the National Federation of Music Clubs and ASCAP. He earned degrees in composition from Princeton University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Lawrence University, and attended summer courses with Joan Tower, Magnus Lindberg, and Alun Hoddinott. Brooke is the Composer-in-Residence at Luther College and a faculty member at the International Music Festival of the Adriatic. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and sons Keegan and Kyle, in a quiet neighborhood in Decorah, a small town in northeast Iowa.