This annual High School Composition Contest is offered jointly by the School of Music of Azusa Pacific University and J.W. Pepper® Music.  It’s intent is to encourage the composition by high school students of high quality music that is accessible to reasonably well-developed high school music ensembles and performers.  Students submitting compositions must be high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors as of the deadline for submission, 11:59 PM on December 1, 2017.

You can download the poster for the contest here.

Three prizes for the winning compositions will be offered, chosen from the five categories below.

1)  $1000 cash

2)  Public performance and recording by the appropriate Azusa Pacific University music ensemble.

3)  Consideration for publication by J.W. Pepper’s publishing arm, Wingert-Jones Publications®.

4)  A complimentary subscription for J.W. Pepper’s My Score® self-publishing platform, valued at $99.

Depending on the recommendation of the judges, up to three finalists in each category below may also receive the complimentary subscription for J.W. Pepper’s My Score® self-publishing platform.

There are five categories of music being sought for the Contest, from which the three winning compositions will be selected.  They are listed below, along with the length limitations for each category.

1)  Orchestra                 5 to 8 minutes

2)  Choral                      4 to 6 minutes

3)  Wind Ensemble      5 to 8 minutes

4)  Jazz Ensemble       5 to 8 minutes

5)  Chamber                 5 to 8 minutes

Plan to submit a properly notated score and demo recording.  The winner in any category will be expected to provide clear, readable parts for the appropriate ensemble.  You are strongly encouraged to use a music notation software, though legible handwritten scores will be accepted.  Plan to follow common conventions of part and score preparation.  If you aren’t sure, consult with your music teacher.  A set of guidelines for instrumental music that may be helpful can be found here.

The choral composition may be accompanied or unaccompanied.  It can be for mixed chorus, women’s choir, or men’s choir.  Any accompaniment should be limited to piano and/or no more than two other common instruments.

The chamber composition may be for string quartet, string quintet, woodwind quintet, brass quintet, piano trio, piano quintet, guitar ensemble, various duos, or any common solo instrument.  Other small groupings may be considered.  If you would like to compose for a non-standard chamber group, it is suggested that you send email to with a description of the ensemble to get approval of the ensemble for which you wish to compose.

Instrumentation maximums for the other ensembles follow.  However, you are not required to use every instrument or section listed for Orchestra or Wind Ensemble.  For example, you might elect to write only for string orchestra (or strings and only a limited number of other instruments), or to compose wind ensemble music that has only 3 trumpet parts, or only 3 trombone parts, or only a single alto sax part, etc.  If you aren’t sure if what you’re considering might be acceptable, you may send email to the address given below.

Orchestra:  3 flutes (1 can double picc), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in Bb or A), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, Timpani + 2 percussion (no more than two mallet instruments), Harp OR Piano, Strings

Wind Ensemble:  Picc: 1st and 2nd Flute, 1st and 2nd Oboe, English Horn, 1st and 2nd Bassoon, Eb Clarinet, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, ContraBass Clarinet, 1st and 2nd Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Bb Trumpet/Cornet, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th French Horns, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Trombones, Euphonium, Tuba, 6 Percussion: Full Complement of military and keyboard percussion instruments

Jazz Ensemble (big band):  4 trumpets, 4 trombones (1 bass), 2 alto sax, 2 tenor sax, 1 bari sax, piano, guitar, bass, drums.  The saxes may double flute or clarinet.  The bari sax may double bass clarinet.  An auxilliary percussionist is an option.  Vibes are an option.

Please see the “Contest Rules” tab above for further details, and the “How to Enter” tab for instructions about how to apply for the contest and submit your composition(s).

If you won the contest previously, you may enter it again, but it must be in a different category than the one in which you won.  Do not enter a composition that has won another national contest.

Questions not answered at the Contest Rules and How to Enter tabs may be directed to