Announcing Minnesota Varsity’s 10th season! Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s annual showcase for high school musicians is open for submissions. If you’re a 14- to 18-year-old student, a classical music instrumentalist, vocalist, or composer, and a resident of Minnesota or surrounding states in the MPR radio listening area, you’re invited to join the 2020 Minnesota Varsity Team!
Since 2013 ACF has partnered with Minnesota Public Radio to offer this distinctive composition program for students ages 14-18. Students submit one original piece for the selected instrumentation, which changes each year to offer new creative challenges.
The deadline to submit a piece is 9:00am on Monday, December 2, 2019. After the deadline, composer mentor Edie Hill and the panel of performers will sing through all the submissions and select five pieces that show good playability, creativity, structure, and overall musical effect.
These five students advance to the Featured Round of the competition. In January the Featured Composers will correspond with Ms. Hill to prepare their score for the next round, and in February they will participate in a full day of coaching and workshopping their pieces, plus recording interviews at MPR’s Studio M. Click the Guidelines tab to read details about this year’s program.
After final edits are turned in and reviewed, two students are selected to have their music performed in the Showcase Concert: a live radio broadcast from Ted Mann Concert Hall, which is later available to stream on the MPR website.
This season the featured composers will work with Edie Hill and these four vocalists:
This season teens will also have the opportunity to set a poem by Heid E. Erdrich, the author of seven collections of poetry. Her writing has won fellowships and awards from the National Poetry Series, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Bush Foundation, Loft Literary Center, First People’s Fund, and other honors.
She has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Heid edited the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations from Graywolf Press. An interdisciplinary artist, Heid works as a visual arts curator and collaborator, and as an educator. She teaches in the low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program of Augsburg University and is the 2019 Distinguished Visiting Professor in Liberal Arts at University of Minnesota Morris. Her forthcoming poetry collections are Verb Animate, a chapbook due out from Tinderbox Editions in early 2020, and Little Big Bully, forthcoming from Penguin Editions in fall of 2020. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain.
Teen musicians: what original melodies and textures can you imagine for an a capella vocal quartet of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass? Students ages 14-18 are invited to submit one original song to Minnesota Varsity. For the very first time, this year’s composer category invites you to write a vocal ensemble piece, and we’re eager to hear what you create!
Minnesota Varsity Statement of Inclusion
Throughout its ten years and today, Minnesota Varsity is committed to reflecting the full and vibrant diversity of the art form it celebrates. We encourage young artists from all socioeconomic backgrounds and all racial, ethnic, and gender identities to apply. As it always has, the definition of classical music continues to enrich and expand: we likewise encourage applicants to express these developments in their performance and compositional choices if doing so best supports their participation in Minnesota Varsity.
- December 2, 2019 @ 9:00am: the final deadline to submit your composition. Late entries are NOT accepted.
- Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 9:00am-5:00pm: Mentoring Day in downtown Saint Paul
- Sunday afternoon, 5/31/2020: Showcase Concert at Ted Mann Concert Hall
How to Participate
To participate, you will create an original, unaccompanied song in four parts for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices (SATB). For the purposes of Minnesota Varsity, it will be performed as a vocal quartet but can be composed with the potential of an expanded choral setting in mind. After you’ve drafted your composition, you’ll submit the score to Classical Minnesota Public Radio. Your piece should be between 3-7 minutes long.
Choose one of the four text options below
1) “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Link to poem: https://hellopoetry.com/poem/2226/travel/If you set this poem, put the following words at the top of your musical score: Poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay
2) “Last Snow” by Heid E. Erdrich (born in 1963)
Link to poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53934/last-snow
If you set this poem, put the following words at the top of your musical score:
Heid E. Erdrich, “Last Snow” from The Mother’s Tongue. Copyright © 2005 by Heid E. Erdich. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.
3) An original text by you, the teen composer. If you choose this option, name yourself as the composer and the poet.
4) Or a vocalise on neutral syllables (like Ooooh and Aaaah)
Music for any other instruments will not be accepted for this year’s program.
Read all the rules and submit your score here:
After the deadline, composer mentor Edie Hill and the panel of performers will sing through all the submissions and select five pieces that show good playability, creativity, structure, and overall musical effect. These five students advance to the Featured Round of the competition. In January the Featured Composers will correspond with Ms. Hill to prepare their score for the next round, and on February 8, 2020 they will participate in a full day of coaching and workshopping their pieces, plus recording interviews at MPR’s Studio M. After final edits are turned in and reviewed, two students will be selected to have their music performed in the Showcase Concert.
The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender, race, ethnicity and geography.
Hello teen composers! This page features links to videos you can watch as you begin writing your SATB piece.
Click here to watch more advice videos about composing and to go behind the scenes with past Minnesota Varsity showcase composers.
And you can always email or call the American Composers Forum to ask any questions you have about MN Varsity. We’re happy to be able to support you!
Full list of instrumentation from all eight seasons:
- 2020 concert: soprano, alto, tenor, bass voices
- 2019 concert: piano, cello, violin
- 2018 concert: flute, clarinet, alto saxophone
- 2017 concert: trumpet, cello, piano
- 2016 concert: violin, viola, cello & tenor voice
- 2015 concert: piano, french horn, clarinet
- 2014 concert: piano, cello, violin
- 2013 concert: flute, oboe, clarinet
Please enjoy these photos from the Minnesota Varsity Workshop day on 2/23/2019!