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PREMIERE|Project Festival

PREMIERE|Project 2023


Festival Dates: June 27 - June 30, 2023



Since its inception in 2018, PREMIERE|Project Festival has been gaining a reputation as a one-stop shop for composers. A one-of-a-kind festival, it provides selected composers with a remarkable workshop/commission experience by offering in-depth seminars, mentoring sessions with renowned composers (past faculty has included Craig Carnahan, Dominick DiOrio, Derrick Skye, and Dale Trumbore), and interactive rehearsals with an award-winning choral ensemble.

Our Why

“We had focused on K-12 outreach, but there are so many arts organizations in Orange County already doing incredible work in that setting. So we started focusing on recent grads, those in career change, people who are early to mid-career as composers. Many composers don’t know how commissioning works; they can graduate with an MM in composition and not know how to handle a commission contract. The inspiration was ‘Let’s create a professional development experience that models that commissioning experience, from contact and contract, to residency and performance.’”
- Artistic Director & Founder Brandon Elliott, Voice of OC ​article 

A composer's dream destination: Imagine a place where you could come to finalize a composition in a workshop setting with a professional chorus, talk about the business side of living as a composer, learn with renowned composition faculty, build a network of like-minded composers, and gain exposure to the latest music in the choral field.  The festival concludes with a live and recorded public premiere of the work.  Beyond the premiere, Fellows will have the option to establish a distribution deal with MusicSpoke under the Choral Arts Initiative ICON Series. All of this in less than a week in beautiful Orange County, CA. Welcome to PREMIERE|Project.

What is the PREMIERE|Project Festival?

























It was an incredible experience. I grew professionally, expanded musically, and had a blast. ​
The atmosphere was great, the program ran smoothly, and the performance by CAI was stunning. Honestly, a home run in basically every way. I'm so honored to have been a part of it! Thanks to all involved!
Exceeded all expectations (which were already high). Incredible, inspiring, educational. And a great balance between artistically fulfilling and affirming, while being very, very practical.
This is one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Meet the Faculty


Brandon Elliott

Artistic Director

Dale Trumbore


Derrick Skye

(June 27-28)

Dominick DiOrio


Featuring Guest Composition Faculty

Juhi Bansal.png

Jeffrey Derus

Guest Faculty
(June 29-30)

Juhi Bansal

Guest Faculty
(June 29)

I'm interested! What are the criteria?

The criteria are simple.  We don't like trying to sort composers by "emerging" or "emerged."  Rather, if you consider yourself a learning composer regardless of age or career status, PREMIERE|Project is the place for you.  

The application requirements are:​

  • A portfolio of three compositions, at least one of which must be for chorus.

  • Recordings for all three works (at least one of which must be a live performance; MIDI recordings are okay).

  • A biography (350 words max)

  • A listing of your compositions along with performance history (name of ensemble, name of conductor, date of performance). 

  • A proposal for the piece you intend to write or complete as part of the PREMIERE|Project Festival. 

  • You must come to the PREMIERE|Project Festival with an unpremiered work that is in progress, near completion, or a finalized work in draft form which you are willing to potentially adjust in the workshop setting.  In addition, you must complete the composition within the PREMIERE|Project Festival timeline to receive its world premiere.   

  • The composition must be for SATB chorus (with or without divisi) and appropriate for high school, collegiate, or professional chorus.  The work may either be a cappella, or with piano accompaniment.  Pieces with English texts are preferred.  If your piece uses texts in a foreign language, an IPA pronunciation guide must be included with the submission. Duration should not exceed 5 minutes. 

What do I get as a Fellow?

All Fellows will receive the following:

  • Five 30-minute private Mentoring Sessions (total of 150 minutes) with world-class Composition Faculty (one Zoom session pre-festival, and four in-person sessions at the festival). 

  • Several In-Depth Seminars.  Recent topics have included: Publishing in the 21st-Century; Navigating the Composer Career Path(s); How to Approach the Podium: A Discussion of the Composer/Conductor Relationship; 11 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Choral Score; Exploring Composition for Film; Let's Talk About Money; A Music Business Crash Course for Composers; Crossing Genres: Compositional and Communication Techniques for Integrating Different Musical Genres into Classical Compositions; An Exploration of Socially-Relevant Compositional Practices. 

  • Numerous "Talk Shop" Roundtables led by Composition Faculty and the Artistic Director.  

  • Q&A Sessions with the Faculty, Artistic Director, and Choral Artists. 

  • Interactive Rehearsals with Choral Arts Initiative. 

  • Several networking opportunities with your festival colleagues. 

  • Welcome & Farewell Receptions featuring food, wine, and spirits.  

  • A complimentary ticket to the PREMIERE|Project Festival Performance for you and one guest (a public performance featuring up to fifteen compositions from our Fellows). 

  • A professional audio and video recording of the premiere delivered within 2 months of the performance.

  • (Optional) A distribution agreement with MusicSpoke under the Choral Arts Initiative ICON Series. You keep your copyright and ownership. You keep the majority of sales splits. 

Selection Critera

Up to fifteen participants will be selected for this festival.  The Composition Faculty will blindly evaluate and rank applications using the following criteria on a 1-5 scale:

  • Overall Application & Portfolio

  • Strength of Proposal

  • Creativity & Uniqueness of Musical Voice

  • Clarity and Coherence of Musical Ideas

Please note that formal education and training is not a requirement nor an evaluation criterion. 

I'm still interested! What's the cost?

Those accepted as a Fellow will have the following expenses:

  • $30 Application Fee

  • $850 Participation Fee

  • Ground or Air Transportation to Newport Beach, CA 

  • Lodging 

Do you offer scholarships or financial assistance?

​Choral Arts Initiative takes pride in offering an industry-leading and equity-minded festival experience thanks to generous donors who help offset the cost. 

As part of our Access, Inclusion, and Equity values, we do not want financial hardship to be the reason you cannot apply or participate. If you are dealing with significant financial hardship, please indicate so in your application and we will work with you to ensure that lack of financial resources is not a tacet barrier.

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