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POLYPHONOS is The Esoterics’ annual competition for choral composition. The name of the competition comes from the Greek πολυφωνος, meaning “many voices” or “manifold in expression.” Now in its twelfth season of hosting this competition, The Esoterics is excited to announce its international call for a cappella choral scores for POLYPHONOS.

The Esoterics is dedicated to performing and perpetuating contemporary a cappella choral settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world. The purpose of The Esoterics’ POLYPHONOS is to encourage today’s choral composers to broaden the scope of the a cappella choral repertory by setting sacred and poetical texts found beyond the Western classical canon in order to create a repertoire of choral concert music that reflects the universal beauty and power of unaccompanied voices joined in song.

2018 Competition:

Each winning composer will receive a commission from The Esoterics to plan and compose a new choral work that will be premiered by the ensemble in the autumn of its 26th season in 2019. In addition to this commission, each of the winning composers will receive $1000 US plus airfare and accommodations to attend the Seattle premiere of their commissioned work. There will be up to three POLYPHONOS awards:

  • International composer’s 2018 commission (for choral composers who are not US citizens)
  • National composer’s 2018 commission (for choral composers who are US citizens)
  • Young composer’s 2018 commission (for choral composers under age 30 as of 31 December 2018)


Download the application here.

NEW DATES for 2018!
The 2018 POLYPHONOS submission deadline has been extended to 30 September.
All applications must be complete and received by that date.
The winners of the competition will be announced on or around 1 November.

Entry requirements:

Please send all submissions to:

The Esoterics
1815 24th Ave
Seattle WA USA 98122-3014

Please include in your submission:

  • A completed application entry form
  • A current composer’s biography (including date of birth) and works list or CV.
  • A portfolio of three (3) contrasting a cappella choral scores,
    including separate pages that include song texts and translations.
    The scores must follow these requirements:

    • At least one submitted score must be in a language other than English.
    • At most one sacred score should be submitted, regardless of religious tradition.
    • Include the date of composition on the score.
    • All scores must be composed in the last 10 years.
    • All identifying marks from submitted scores must be removed,
      including names of composer, publisher, dedication, performers, commissioners, etc.
    • Arrangements of preexisting tunes will not be considered, however limited quotation is allowed.
    • All scores should be generated in music notation software.
      Hand-written (manuscript) scores will not be accepted.

Other rules and guidelines:

  • Please do not send recordings.
  • Only one portfolio will be allowed per composer.
  • Incomplete applications will be neither considered nor returned.
  • All application materials are considered property of The Esoterics, and will not be returned.
  • All composer portfolios must be received by the submission deadline.
    Hand-delivered scores will not be accepted or considered as valid entries.
  • All submissions will be evaluated by a panel of composers, conductors, and experienced choral singers.
  • All commissioned works will be reproduced solely for performance by The Esoterics.
  • All POLYPHONOS commissions are to be completed within a theme and by a date
    to be determined by the winning composer and The Esoterics’ director, Eric Banks.
  • The Esoterics will have a non-exclusive, worldwide license to perform each commissioned work.
  • The Esoterics will retain the right to record the first performance of each commissioned work.
  • The Esoterics will retain the right to record and release the first CD of each commissioned work.
  • Winners of POLYPHONOS are encouraged to apply again in the year AFTER the premiere of their POLYPHONOS commission.

Questions? Please send an e-mail to