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.

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 download: Saturnian Moons by 2017 Commissioned Composer, Brooke Joyce - Download

Free download: Tsuga (Hemlock) for solo piano - Download - MP3 Download


The winner of the 2018 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 2018 IMTA State Conference (early June, details TBA). 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 Little Piano Book by Persichetti and Twenty-four Little Pieces by Kabalevsky.

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, 2018, or 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: Briar Cliff University Professor of Piano Dr. Richard Steinbach,

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.

  • January 1, 2018: The score and recording must be submitted to the email address given above.
  • January 15, 2018: The winner will be announced.
  • April 15, 2018: The piano score must be given to the chair of the IMTA Commissioning Committee.
  • Early June 2018: The concert piece for solo piano will be premiered at the IMTA State Conference, location TBA.
  • January 2019: The winner of the IMTA/ICF Composer Competition will serve as a judge for the 2019 IMTA/ICF Composer Competition.

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.