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Composers Competition and Concert

May 5, 2016 Froemke Auditorium

Any genre of music accepted including multimedia presentations

Cash Prizes! $200, $150, $100 matching Friends of Music Scholarships

Scholarships provided by International Music Camp to all high school winners

Composition Contest Entry Form

Please complete an entry form for each piece submitted. Mail with post date of April 25, 2016 or email as attachment to before 11:59 pm April 25, 2016.
Contact Nicholaus Meyers with any questions at 701-845-7374 or by email.

Entry into the *FREE* Mentoring Program

Contact Nicholaus Meyers
1-800-532-8641 Ext. 3-7374

2016 Composition Mentor: Timothy C. Takach

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Reviewed as "gorgeous" (Washington Post) and “stunning” (Lawrence Journal-World), the music of Timothy C. Takach (b. 1978) is rapidly gaining momentum in the concert world. Applauded for his melodic lines and rich, intriguing harmonies, Takach has received a number of commissions from numerous organizations including the St. Olaf Choir, Cantus, Pavia Winds, the Bowling Green State University Men’s Chorus, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, the Cherry Creek High School Meistersingers, the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus and the Western Michigan University Chorale. His compositions have been heard on NPR and have been recorded by various groups in North America.
Takach won Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble’s Second Annual Commissioning Contest and was a finalist in the Young New Yorker’s Competition for Young Composers. The 2007 Texas All-State Choir and the 2009 Florida All-State Choir performed his piece “The Darkling Thrush,” and his arrangement of “What Child is This” was featured on the 2007 Boston Pops holiday tour. His arrangement of “Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” was included in a 2006 worldwide Christmas radio broadcast through the European Broadcasting Union and two of his pieces are included in the series Teaching Music through Performance in Choir. Takach has received grants from the American Composers Forum and Meet the Composer, and yearly ASCAP Plus awards since 2004.
Takach studied music composition with Timothy Mahr and Peter Hamlin at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, where he received a BA and graduated with honors. He now lives in Minneapolis and sings with the professional male vocal ensemble, Cantus. As a singer with Cantus, Takach gives over 80 concerts a year and has had his works performed in concert halls across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Students need not enter the mentoring program in order to participate in the contest!
Students need not register for the mentoring program to participate in the Composition Contest! All finalists will be invited to perform "live" or via pre-recorded DVD/video if at a distance by Wednesday, April 29, 2016. The concert will be held in Froemke Auditorium at 7:30 p.m, streamed "live" on the Internet. Awards will be made immediately following the performances.

There are a few rules for entry:

  • The piece must not have been performed in public previous to the concert
  • The composer must be in grades 9-12 as of May, 2016 (for high students)
  • The composer must be a current VCSU student (for collegiate students)
  • Composers must supply their own performers for the competition
  • The work must be entirely original, no arrangements!
  • The work must fit into either the “Classical” or “Pop” genre, but must be suitable for public performance (language, etc.)
  • The work must be performed ‘live’ or recorded (electronic or distance participants only) and is limited to 10 performers due to stage space.
  • Distance finalist participants must provide a high quality DVD or link to YouTube, in case of internet failure, the participant is disqualified
  • Submissions are accepted in two categories: pop and classical. The composer selects the category best suited for the work and competes in that category, unless the music faculty feel the work fits more appropriately in the opposite category. The composer will be notified if that change is made upon notice of acceptance into the competition.
  • A participants may submit a maximum of three compositions
  • If lyrics/text are used they must be in the public domain or permission given by the author
  • Classical works should contain a score (text included if applicable)
  • Pop works should contain a score or at least a lead-sheet (text included if applicable)
Any style, any medium is accepted at this concert. Composers are responsible for the performances of their submissions. The auditorium is equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround system and LCD projector to a movie-theater quality screen. A grand piano is permanently located on stage.

All participants in the mentoring program will be invited to perform their works at a concert on May 5, where they will have the opportunity to be shared at an informal teacher/student workshop. All others will be notified by email on Friday, April 29, 2016 if accepted to perform at the competition concert.
The entry form may be photocopied and distributed as needed. Email submissions are preferred. A written score is not required, but is recommended. A recording of the piece *must* accompany the submission. The recording may be computer file (.mp3, .wav, .mid, .mpeg, .mov, or .avi). Hard copy DVDs are preferred.

If there are any questions, please contact Nicholaus Meyers ( or 1-800-532-8641 ext. 3-7374.

All recorded entries become the property of VCSU and will not be returned. All rights remain with the composer. Finalists will be notified by email by Friday, April 29, 2016.

1. Composers must be current VCSU students, but performers may be anyone they choose.
2. Submissions are accepted in two categories: pop and classical. The composer selects the category best suited for the work and competes in that category, unless the music faculty feel the work fits more appropriately in the opposite category. The composer will be notified if that change is made upon notice of acceptance into the competition.
3. There is no limit on the number of submissions per composer, but only one per category may be selected for competition.
4. Deadline remains the same as posted. Please submit electronically.
Any questions, please contact Nicholaus Meyers at

Past events

Guest Mentor 2015: Timothy Takach


Collegiate Classical:
First Place – Lucy Alessio, “Rhapsodic Theme and Variations “
Second Place – Mikaela Vaughn, “Ode to the Wind”
Third Place – Angelina Tereshchenko, “Life’s Sorrows”

Collegiate Pop:
First Place – Tyler Manske, “Do the Same”
Second Place – David Burgess, “The Penguin’s Ruin”
Third Place - Melody Belkin, “Back Me Up”

Guest Mentor 2014: Timothy Takach


High School first place: Alexie Marion, "Listen", piano solo
High School second place: Kiara Down, "Grandma's Song", piano and voice

Collegiate pop: Noah Wolf, "Story of My Life", piano and voice
Collegiate classical: Amelia (Mimi) Brown, "Discontent", alto saxophone and piano

Guest Mentor 2013--J. David Moore

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J. David Moore (b. 1962) has had works performed and recorded all over the world. He has degrees in composition and choral conducting from Florida State University School of Music and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In the years following his studies, David founded and directed two professional a cappella ensembles, Cincinnati-based The Village Waytes and St. Paul's award-winning Dare To Breathe. He has won numerous grants and awards through the American Composers Forum, the McKnight Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. An active educator and clinician, David has coached vocal ensembles and served as composer-in-residence at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the midwest. He is a member of ASCAP and the American Composers Forum.

Mr. Moore was sponsored by the ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund.

Winners 2013

Collegiate "pop" category: "Midnight Recovery" composed by Tyler Manske and performed by Manske, vocals, guitar; Sarah Rhyan, piano; Tommy Zinke, trumpet; David Burgess, trombone; Bradyn Good, saxophone; Beau Brunsvold and Scott Westby, percussion; Lyle Hager, bass.

Collegiate "classical" category: "Coplas por la Muerta de su Padre" composed by Ignacio Garcia de Olalla performed by Tommy Zinke, baritone; Jaime Namminga, piano.

There were no high school winners.

2012 Composition Winners Announced

  • "Life Has Loveliness to Sell" text by Emily Dickinson, music by Micki Buchholz Collegiate Classical Category $200
  • "Fear of What's Real" lyrics and music by Dan Kietzman Collegiate Pop Category $200 (Click to the listen)
  • A special "Thank you!" to Amy Jo Paukert for her contribution as a teacher to the program with her piece "If" performed by Karlie Matejcek on vocals, Amy Jo Paukert on piano.
  • Congratulations to winner of the public service announcement competition ($50),
  • Hallie Thyr, for her video promoting Valley City State University. She participated in the mentoring program with Allan Molnar supported by a VCSU Technology Committee Mini-Grant.
  • Thank you to J. David Moore for his piece, "Reports: Flood and Wind Chill" and to Dr. Leesa Levy and Dr. Sara Hagen for their performance of this premiere.
  • See the whole concert at

2010 Composition Winners Announced

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Left to Right: Mimi Brown, Danielle Scheel, Meghan Battest, Dr. Sara Hagen

See the whole concert at
The 2010 VCSU Composition Competition and Concert was an outstanding event this year with five high school finalists and nearly 40 collegiate entries. The High School finalists were: Chelsie Babcock, Beulah; Meghan Battest, Beulah; Mimi Brown, Wahpeton; Ryan Fraase, Maple Valley; Danielle Scheel, Griggs County.

Winners in the high school competition:
1st place: Mimi Brown, Intentional Chaos: The Lonely Note, piano solo
2nd place: Danielle Scheel, Searching, vocal solo with piano
3rd place: Meghan Battest, Summer Lasts Forever Locked in Reality, vocal solo with guitar and piano

Winners in the Collegiate Competition:
Classical Genre: Angela Sawtelle, Rondo, clarinet and piano: Kori Buchanan, Aviv, soprano solo and piano
Pop Genre: Vincent Olson, Lips Touch, guitar and vocals

Listen to past high school winners!

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Winners in 2008: (R-L)1st - Emily Black, Williston; 2nd - Ryan Fraase, Buffalo; 3rd - Tyson Rost, New Rockford.

The Valley City State University Department of Music held its Seventh Annual Composers Competition and Concert on Thursday, May 1, 2008 in Froemke Auditorium in Foss Music Hall. The competition was open to North Dakota high school students in grades 9-12 and to VCSU students, faculty and staff. The event was originated and organized by Dr. Sara Hagen, Director of Music Technology, as an outlet for students in the music theory, creative sound production, and garage band classes to perform their original works. Since its inception in 2002, the event has grown to include a high school competition, a mentoring program, and cash and scholarship prizes totaling $950 to winners in the following events: high school winner, first and second prizes; collegiate classical and pop categories.

Fourteen world premieres were performed at the concert in a wide range of styles, including chamber instrumental groups, mixed vocal and instrumental groups, saxophone quartets, a saxophone solo, piano solos, and one of VCSU's garage bands performing their original tune. Judges for the event were Dr. Curt Hill, associate professor of mathematics at VCSU (and an alumnus of the music theory program), and Mr. Dale Conrad, music instructor at Litchville-Marion Schools, also an alumnus of VCSU.
Participants in the high school event included: Emily Black, Williston; Donovan Dobler, Tower City; Nikki Edmiston, Thompson; Ryan Fraase, Buffalo; and Tyson Rost, New Rockford.

Winners received cash and a matching Friends of Music scholarship to use as a full-time student at VCSU. They were:
Emily Black, $150 for her piece entitled, 'Listen' performed by Emily on piano and vocals, her mother, Andrea Black on vocals, and her brother, Ian, on cello; Ryan Fraase, $100 for his piano solo, 'Uplifting Contentment'; and Tyson Rost $50 for his multimedia presentation 'I Don't Care' in which he sang with an accompaniment prepared on computer, but which is scored for full jazz band. Black and Rost were also winners in last year's competition. Rost will attend VCSU in the fall as a music business major.

Participants in the collegiate competition were: Amber Olsen, Mandan; Micki Buchholz, Oakes; Ali Jensen, West Fargo; Mariah Westerhausen, Jamestown; Ashley Heinz, Enderlin; Casey Behm, Tower City; Sean Richie, North Pole, AK; Stephanie Bina, Aneta; Heidi Kirsch, New Leipzig; Sam Wagner, Casselton; Dana Drevecky, Valley City and Kelsey Wilhelm, Kindred. Winners were awarded $150 cash: Ashley Heinz for her piano solo 'The Bermuda Fury' in the pop category and 'Let's See' a saxophone quartet by Stephanie Bina in the classical category.

Past Mentor 2007-2008

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Jocelyn Hagen, a composer from Minneapolis, MN, was hired as a mentor for all participants, who were encouraged to send Hagen a draft of their composition as it was taking shape. Hagen would review the work and offer suggestions for possible directions and ideas for the pieces, which helped the students gain expertise and expand their creative options. In addition, Ms. Hagen met with the high school participants at a sharing concert in the afternoon prior to the concert, reflecting on the process of finalizing compositions and bringing them to the concert stage.
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Due to the flood of 2009, the Composer's Concert was cancelled and could not be rescheduled.

This photo shows the Foss Music Building completely surrounded by dikes. We sustained minimal damage and we'll be ready for the 2009-2010 school year.

Contact Information:

Dr. Nicholaus Meyers
Assistant Professor
Music Theory and Percussion
Phone: 701-845-7374