Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition


American composers age 18-40 (age as of January 30, 2022)


November 15, 2021


$1,500, performance by True Concord in three January 2022 concerts in Tucson, $500 travel stipend to attend the concerts.


The 2021-22 competition is closed and adjudication is in progress. Check back for announcements in mid to late December.

In January 2022, True Concord presents “From Silenced to Singing,” a concert expressing the power and beauty of giving voice to those who have been silenced. The program features music celebrating women’s voices plus music by or inspired by African Americans and Native Americans. The winning piece will be given its world premiere in this three-performance project.

Submit a pdf and midi realization of a 5-6 minute setting of one of three selected poems, printed below. Please send all materials to

The setting should be for choir (SATB, up to double divisi), with piano and/or a single obbligato orchestral instrument, or a cappella.

Women and BIPOC composers are especially encouraged to apply.

Entrants may set one of the following three poems, selected in partnership with the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
All texts are in the public domain.
I, Lover

Elsa Gidlow

I shall never have any fear of love, 
Not of its depth nor its uttermost height,
Its exquisite pain and its terrible delight.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never hesitate to go down
Into the fastness of its abyss
Nor shrink from the cruelty of its awful kiss.
I shall never have any fear of love.

Never shall I dread love’s strength
Nor any pain it might give.
Through all the years I may live
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never draw back from love
Through fear of its vast pain
But build joy of it and count it again.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never tremble nor flinch
From love’s moulding touch:
I have loved too terribly and too much
Ever to have any fear of love.



Myra Viola Wilds

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
    In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions, 
    Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy, 
     Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought; 
Man, though high may be his station, 
     Is no better than his thoughts. 

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly, 
    Let each one an honor be; 
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly, 
    Then in love set each one free. 



Emily Pauline Johnson

And only where the forest fires have sped, 
    Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head, 
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
    It hides the scars with almost human hands.

And only to the heart that knows of grief,
    Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief, 
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
    And life revives, and blossoms once again.

Congratulations to the winners of past competitions!

2020-21: Ethan Soledad

Soledad’s composition, “When I Rise Up,” was performed by True Concord in April 2021 in “The Trailblazers,” a program celebrating women creators and game changers.

2019-20: Tom Peterson

Peterson’s composition, “Being Many, Seeming One,” was performed by True Concord on October 2019 in four concerts of music based on Shakespearean texts. His piece sets the text from Sonnet VIII (“Music to hear”), which is the inspiration for True Concord’s name.

2018-19: Martin Sedek

Sedek’s winning work, “The Beauty of Cosmic Things,” was performed by True Concord in November 2018, in three concerts of American music that honored veterans and commemorated the centenary of Armistice Day.

2017-18: Matthew Lyon Hazzard

Hazzard’s winning work, “Look Back on Time,” was performed by True Concord in March, 2018, in four concerts of American music based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.