2019 Composer-in-Residence

July 30, 2019 – In partnership with the Center for New Music, ACF is thrilled to announce that Oakland-based artist Julie Herndon has been awarded the organization’s first Bay Area Composer Residency award. Herndon will receive $10,000 to organize and lead Soundvoice, a collaboration with Code Tenderloin, based in San Francisco. During the summer of 2020, Herndon will work with the homeless community in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood to workshop and create a multi-media concert featuring the stories of the participants.

Each class will feature a different guest artist presenting compositional tools that participants can use to build audio-editing abilities, develop computer skills, and facilitate self-expression. Since its debut as a San Francisco Contemporary Music Players program in 2015, Soundvoice workshops have a history of success in building a lasting relationship between the arts community and residents. What makes Soundvoice unique in 2020 is its experience-centered curriculum, the diversity of instructor expertise, and a partnership with Code Tenderloin, a workforce development nonprofit. They will locate and reach out to the target audience for this project—empowering women in the homeless community around the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.

Herndon shares, “I’m so grateful to ACF for the opportunity to grow my community with sound!” The workshops will be led by Herndon, along with John Ivers, Barbara Nerness, Matt Robidoux, and Julie Zhu: artists and composers based in Stanford, San Francisco, and the East Bay who are committed to sharing their practice in order to build community and create a shared space. Classes will take place at the Center for New Music, which is located in the heart of the Tenderloin neighborhood. The culmination of this program will be a collaborative multimedia concert, free to the public, featuring the work of the participants supported by the workshop faculty. The Code Tenderloin team says, “We are excited to have Soundvoice join the Tenderloin community in empowering women in our homeless population. We look forward to being part of the impact this program will make in our community and seeing the lives that will be touched through their programs!”

About Julie Herndon

Julie Herndon is an Oakland-based composer and performer working with internal/external space through improvisation, text, graphics, and electronics. Her work explores the body’s relationship to the self, to performance, and to tools like musical instruments and personal technology. Recent electroacoustic work has been described as “blended to inhabit a surprisingly expressive space” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Her compositions have been performed by ensembles including JACK Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble Proton Bern, Line Upon Line Percussion, TAK Ensemble, Retro Disco, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Performances of her work include MATA Festival and MIS-EN_PLACE Bushwick in New York, Artistry Space in Singapore, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, and Hot Air Festival in San Francisco.

An active educator, Herndon has led classes at Mills College and assisted courses in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Stanford, in subjects ranging from anime to transidiomatic art-making. As a collaborator, Herndon is co-founder of hi, a duo featuring harmonium, clarinet, and electronics, and fff, an interdisciplinary artist collective. She holds a B.A. in Music from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an M.A. in Music Composition from Mills College, and is currently a Hume Fellow pursuing a doctorate at Stanford University.

Photo by John Ivers.

Read and download the full press release

Download a PDF version of these guidelines


Next Summer, one San Francisco Bay Area composer will be selected to receive $10,000 for the design, coordination, and production of a residency project that begins after September 1, 2020 and ends by March 1, 2022.

This is an opportunity for you to design and lead a local, collaborative project, in which you are the composer-in-residence. The length of your project should be about 40 days, which can be distributed over the project period however you choose. A commission can be part of your project, but one is not required. As you are planning your project, please obtain a letter of support from each project partner to include with your application. Project partners are the ensembles, artists from other disciplines, and/or organization(s) you plan to collaborate with during your residency. Project partners are only allowed to collaborate with one composer applicant. Make sure your project partner has not also agreed to be a part of another composer’s ACF Bay Area application.


One residency of $10,000 will be awarded, and the selected composer will receive free ACF membership for the duration of their project.

More information about this call

ACF strives to expand beyond our Western European classical roots and encourages applications from all genres, styles, backgrounds, gender identities, race/ethnicity, and abilities. If you create original music/sonic material and have a project idea, we encourage you to apply!

For this application ACF does not limit what community means, apart from the geographic boundary of the 11-County Bay Area: your collaborators can be any group of people, including (but not limited to) musicians and other arts groups, schools, neighborhoods or towns, human services and healthcare organizations, and cultural, social, and faith groups.

Composer residency projects can take many forms, including, but not limited to creating new work, teaching kids and adults, and documenting human experience. Your collaboration might be with a school, a dance group, other musicians, scientists, a social services organization, local government, or something no one else has even thought of yet. To see some of the projects being developed in other ACF programs, visit ACF CreateMcKnight Visiting Composer, MN Emerging Composer Award, and In Common.


  • Applicants must reside (and projects must take place) in one of the eleven Bay Area Counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma County.
  • Composers creating in all genres or musical styles are eligible to apply.
  • Members and non-members of ACF are eligible to apply.
  • Composers currently participating in an ACF residency program are not eligible to apply.
  • Staff and board of the American Composers Forum and Center for New Music, and their immediate family, are not eligible to apply.

Selection Process

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.

Panelists will evaluate:

  • your previous work;
  • the anticipated significance of the residency project for you and for the project partners;
  • and the plan and scope of your proposed project, including a timeline.

A panel of three composers from outside the Bay Area, chosen for their familiarity with diverse genres of new music, will review applications and select the residency recipient. American Composers Forum staff have no vote in the selection of the composer. The role of the staff is to facilitate the panel review process.


Every applicant will be contacted by email to let you know that we’ve received your completed application. The panel’s decision will be announced in early August. Results will be posted on ACF’s website and applicants will be notified by email. After the announcement, all applicants will have the opportunity to set up an appointment with the program manager, Kris Kautzman, for feedback from the panelists.

How to Apply

About SlideRoom

ACF receives applications online through the SlideRoom portal. Before you can start your application, SlideRoom will ask you to log in/make an account. There is no fee to apply for ACF programs.

SoundCloud, YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, or Google Drive are all reliable places to upload the sound files, scores, and documents you’ll be linking to in your application. In order to ensure access for the duration of the panel selection process, all the web links you provide must remain active and unchanged until July 31, 2019.

If you choose to submit typed narratives to questions 11-13, here is a character count tool you can use to make sure your answers don’t go over the limit. http://www.charactercountonline.com/

SlideRoom allows you to exit and re-enter your application up until the point you hit Submit. If you need technical help while working on your application, please contact Kris Kautzman at 651.251.2842 or kkautzman@composersforum.org.

Application Questions

1-10: Contact info and the link to your website or artist page.

SoundCloud, YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, or Google Drive are all reliable places to upload the sound files, scores, and documents you’ll be linking to in this application.

11. Project proposal (Link to a 3-5 minute video or typed answer of maximum 6,000 characters, including spaces): Your project proposal should include a detailed description of your proposed residency activities, including your interaction with the project partner(s) you’ve chosen, and an explanation of the anticipated significance of the residency for your partner(s).

12. Please share your intended timeline for the project you’re proposing (typed answer, maximum 2000 characters, including spaces).

13. Artist’s statement (Link to a 2-4 minute video or typed answer of maximum 4,000 characters, including spaces): Here is where you share why the residency you’ve designed would be significant for you; background on the development of your creative work; your interests as an artist, and any other information you would like to present to the panel.

14. Insights into your artistic experiences (Link to a 2-4 minute video or typed answer of maximum 4,000 characters, including spaces): This can be a biography or a list of artistic experiences that have shaped you as a musician. We would like this document to enhance your artistic statement and provide further insights into your creation of music.

15. Project partner(s). Type the name(s)/organization(s) you’ll be collaborating with. Project partner(s) are only allowed to collaborate with one composer applicant. Make sure your project partner has not also agreed to be a part of another composer’s ACF Bay Area application.

16. Link to letter(s) of support from your project partner(s).

17-40. You will provide links to 3 audio or video samples of your work, including for each:

  • Link to the score*
  • Link to the audio/video
  • Cue times. Among the three work samples, the panel will listen to a maximum of 12 minutes. You can divide up these 12 minutes however you choose by providing cue start & end times for each sample.
  • Total length
  • Year you created the music
  • Ensemble/performers’ names
  • Instrumentation
  • Description: Context about why you chose to share this particular sample, how it fits into your body of work, and/or your role in creating the music.

*Written scores are required unless they are inappropriate to your compositional style. For improvised performance, please clearly describe the nature of your involvement as the composer in the creation of the piece.

41. How did you find out about this opportunity?

42-43. Optional self-identification
Providing this information is optional. The American Composers Forum strives to include applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists in genre, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and geography. Sharing your information helps us know how we are doing and where we might improve our efforts.

If you would like to see all of the questions in a worksheet form, you can download a worksheet version of all the application questions (.docx document). If you need a different format, please call or email Kris.

Info Sessions

ACF staff want you to feel confident that you’ve put together your strongest application for our programs. Online info sessions give you the opportunity to plan ahead, ask questions, and get application advice. Each will be an hour-long session to walk through the program description, guidelines, and online application process. You can ask individual questions during the session or contact me separately with your individual questions. Between January-May several info sessions will be offered for this program – the same material will be covered at each session:

The info sessions for this program wrapped up on May 5, but you can still see the video and schedule a virtual/phone appointment to talk about your application. Just click the links below!

Click here for a video presentation of the guidelines and application advice on our YouTube channel

Or click here to schedule an individual 30-minute virtual meeting to talk about your application (available until May 30th)

If the application process presents barriers based on language, cultural background, or disability, we accommodate special application requests to the best of our ability. If you need assistance or want to talk about your application at any point during the process, feel free to contact Kris at kkautzman@composersforum.org or 651.251.2842.

Resources for Creating Unlisted Links:




Google Drive:

Thank you for your interest in this new program – we look forward to receiving your application!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can we apply as an ensemble or composer collective?

A: If you are part of an ensemble, one composer from your group must “take the lead” on applying, in part because the grant will be paid to an individual. If you are awarded the grant and choose to hire other artists to be part of your project, ACF can help you think through that process, including giving you advice about preparing 1099’s for those artists.

Q: What does ACF mean by “Residency?”

A: Many composers are familiar with residencies that are a funded, designated period of time to travel away from their home to focus on a project, most often to compose something. For the purposes of this program, ACF does also mean this to be a funded, designated period of time to work on a project. The difference is that it takes place in your home community/geography (the Bay Area) and must be a collaboration. Additionally, the creation of new work is not a requirement of the Bay Area Composer Residency.

Q: Does my project need to have a social service component in order to be eligible?

A: A social service component is not required: artistic collaborations of all kinds, including commission projects, are eligible, so long as the applying composer lives in the 11-County Bay Area and the project takes place in the 11-County Bay Area. In the Overview tab we recently added some more clarifying language, plus more links to project-based ACF programs, so that applicants for this grant can see the breadth of currently-funded projects.

Q: Why do you stipulate that this should be a 40-day project?

A: This program is based on ACF’s long-running McKnight Visiting Composer Residency program, which also invites composers to propose a 40-day project. We hope that this parameter allows you to imagine & comfortably plan a project which takes about about six weeks and can be accomplished with $10,000. Some people’s projects end up being a little shorter or longer than 40 days, and that’s fine. Collaborations usually require a little flexibility. The important thing is to plan for a project on a scale that you can manage and enjoy.

Q: Can I apply more than once (with different project ideas and different ensembles)?

A: While it’s not specifically prohibited in the guidelines, we intended this application process to be 1 composer: 1 project. Now that a few people have inquired, we’ll take this possibility into consideration for future seasons, and clarify one way or the other in future guidelines.

Thank you for your questions! They help us make our programming better from year to year.