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About the Christmas Carol Commission Competition

The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir announces its eighth annual Christmas Carol Commission Competition in April 2017 as part of its commitment to the future of choral music. Submitted works must be original, unpublished, and have not been publicly performed; between 3 and 5 minutes long; written for SATB, mixed adult choir; and may be a cappella or utilize keyboard accompaniment. Text and language are at the discretion of the composer, and should be suitable for a Christmas/holiday performance.

Recent commissions by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir include works by composers Mohammed Fairouz, Molly Ijames, Dan Locklair, James Mulholland and others. Winners of the Commission Competition have been published by these and other publishers: EC Schirmer, Shawnee Press, Beckenhorst Press.

Composers 35 years of age or younger (as of December 1, 2017) who are United States citizens or legal residents may submit one composition via email (PDF) to the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir by 11:59 p.m. (EST), August 31, 2017. Compositions must be in PDF format and emailed to No consideration will be given to entries received after the deadline. Submitted materials will not be returned. Questions may be e-mailed to There is no entry fee, although a submission form must accompany the composition.

Text and language are at the discretion of the composer, with the following requirements: the text should be suitable for a Christmas or holiday (secular texts are permitted) performance, and the text should be from a non-liturgical tradition (for example, contemporary poetry or verse (secular or sacred), hymn texts and the like are permitted, while texts such as “Ave Maria,” “Gloria” or “Hodie Christus Natus Est” are discouraged.

The winner will be notified by September 30, 2017 and the selected composition will be performed by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir at its five annual Festival of Carols performances in Indianapolis.  A cash prize of $1,000, plus travel and lodging for the world premiere in December 2016, will be awarded to the winning composer.

All submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. (EST), August 31, 2017.

Recent Commissions

“Christmas Hosanna” – 2016
Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2016
Composer: Rob Swenson

With lively writing in 6/8 meter and minimal divisi, this piece also incorporates the familiar tune for “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” throughout. While still accessible, the piano accompaniment is refreshing and offers an opportunity to engage the pianist in the performance as well. “Christmas Hosanna” is equally charming with or without handbells depending on your available musical forces.
SATB choir
Piano accompaniment
Optional handbells

Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2013
Composer: Brian Buda

Featuring undulating lyricism and inviting melodic lines, this carol breathes life into a text that withstands the centuries. In addition to  bringing the choir and audience on a musical journey, the pianist is equally rewarded across a composition rich with text painting and vivid imagery.SATB choir
Piano accompaniment
Publisher: Shawnee Press

Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2012
Composer: Joey Hoelscher

A gently rolling piano accompaniment supports a fresh arrangement of the familiar melody in this new setting of “Still, Still, Still.”  Lush choral writing is accessible to performers and audiences alike.SATB choir
Piano accompaniment
Publisher: Beckenhorst

Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2011
Composer: Christina Whitten Thomas

With flowing melodies and warm harmonies, “A Child of the Snows” features text by G. K. Chesterton in a rich, lullaby-like setting.

SATB choir
Piano accompaniment
Publisher: EC Schirmer

Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2010
Composer: Daniel J. Knaggs

This setting of the traditional Latin text is celebratory and portrays the joy and excitement, mixed with awe and reverence, surrounding the birth of the Christ child.SSAATTBB choir
A cappella
Publisher: Unpublished

Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2009
Composer: Molly Ijames

Molly Ijames’ setting of S. Baring-Gould’s text unfolds in simple vocal gold throughout the composition. The lullaby setting provides a unique perspective with allusions to the future of Jesus Christ’s life and glory.SATB choir, Soprano soloist
Piano accompaniment
Publisher: Beckenhorst Press

GLORIA” – 2008
Premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 2008
Composer: Michael K. Runyan and Pamela G. Runyan

Rhythmic and full of life, this setting of the liturgical text (set in English and Latin) begins and ends with two-against-three figures enveloping a calm, soothing middle section. The organist and choir alike will be energized with this fresh setting of sacred text.SATB choir with additional divisi
Organ accompaniment
Publisher: Unpublished