Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies

Important Information

  • Note: Individuals who have participated previously in the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies may not reapply
  • Program offered Full Session only
  • All students receive fellowships
  • Audio or Video audition recordings and scores are required / accepted

Fees & Deadlines

Deadline: November 1, 2023
Application open September 15, 2023

Application Fee

$30 September 15–October 15, 2023
$60 October 16–November 1, 2023

Teaching Faculty

Faculty Residencies May Vary

Christopher Theofanidis, composer-in-residence

Missy Mazzoli, principal guest composer

The Aspen Music Festival and School offers an unparalleled opportunity for an exchange of ideas with some of the world’s foremost composers and performers of new music. The Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies provides eight to ten students a variety of perspectives and teaching styles in an intensive full-session program. Students work intimately with AMFS's composition faculty and composer-in-residence, guest composers, as well as Aspen’s own Music Director Robert Spano and President and CEO Alan Fletcher, both active composers.

Classes, lectures, and individual study will be given by some of today’s most highly regarded and frequently performed living composers. In recent years, guest and artist-faculty have included such international figures as Kati Agocs, Krists Auznieks, William Bolcom, Christopher Cerrone, John Corigliano, Marc-André Dalbavie, Brett Dean, Jacob Druckman, Sebastian Fagerlund, Gabriela Lena Frank, Helen Grime, John Harbison, Anders Hillborg, Daniel Kellogg, James Lee III, Jonathan Leshnoff, Steven Mackey, James MacMillan, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, Matthias Pintscher, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Augusta Read Thomas, Matthew Ricketts, Christopher Rouse, Poul Ruders, Kaija Saariaho, Judith Shatin, Steven Stucky, Joel Thompson, Joan Tower, Yuko Uebayashi, Shelley Washington, and Lenny White.

Students will be tasked with a chamber music commission for a work between 8 and 15 minutes in length for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Instrumentation is as follows: The full Aspen Contemporary Ensemble (8), conducted, or a subset thereof, with a minimum of 5 members: Flute (doubling Piccolo and Alto Flute), Clarinet (doubling E-flat Clarinet and Bass Clarinet), Percussion, Piano, Violin (2), Viola, and Cello. Works will be performed at Harris Hall and professionally recorded.

Students are also required to submit an orchestral piece up to seven minutes in length for reading by the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra. Available instrumentation is as follows:  3-3-3-3  4-3-3-1  Timp  3perc  Harp  Piano/Celesta  Strings (6/5/4/3/2 stands). The standard wind doublings are available: 1 Piccolo, 1 Alto Flute, 1 English Horn, 1 Eb Clarinet, 1 Bass Clarinet, 1 Contrabassoon. Doublings should be limited to one doubling per player. New works are encouraged and must be purely for orchestra, not concertos or works with soloists. Works will be read at the Benedict Music Tent and professionally recorded.

During the festival, all Fellows have the option to compose a dramatic scene no longer than 10 minutes in length, for voice and piano.

Click here for percussion availability for orchestra and chamber commissions as well as the specific configuration to which fellows must tailor their chamber compositions.

Note that fellows will complete a survey upon enrollment that will require them to request their instrumentation for the chamber music commission and to express whether they intend to submit a vocal work. Chamber instrumentations will be reviewed and approved/denied within one week of request. An electronic PDF score and parts of the chamber music commission will be due by June 1 as well as simply the instrumentation and percussion requirements for the orchestral work. A PDF score of the orchestra piece is due by June 15. Printed scores and parts of the chamber commission and orchestra piece will be due while in Aspen. Full details and restrictions for compositions will be provided at the time of enrollment.  

The AMFS will again award the Hermitage Prize to a composition student, honoring their summer accomplishments at our School, as well as faith in their future work. This program began in 2013 as a partnership with the Hermitage Artist Retreat, an invitation-only residency extended to mid-career artists from around the world. The recipient of the award receives a six-week residency at the Hermitage along with a $1,000 stipend. For more information on the Hermitage and the Prize, please visit the website at

Following each season, the Jacob Druckman Prize, in memory of the great American composer, who taught at Aspen from 1976 to 1995, is conferred on one student composer, in the form of a commission for an orchestral work to be premiered during the subsequent Festival season.

Award recipients are selected by a panel of AMFS composition faculty and administrators who are familiar with each of the students and their work.

The program is rigorous and, thus, composers are expected to stay focused on their core curriculum and not engage in extracurricular activities, such as concerto competitions.




  • Resume required
  • Two recent works with PDF scores (except in the case of non-notated works) along with their corresponding AUDIO or VIDEO recordings required