The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble is seeking proposals for its spring “Oregonophony” concert from Oregon-resident established and emerging professional composers, and college-level students who aspire to professional careers. Oregonophony will be a concert of works inspired by recorded sounds from Oregon.

Rather than just talking about how this beautiful place inspires the jazz community, we’re creating the opportunity for the audience to hear that inspiration in the moment. They’ll hear recordings of sounds from Oregon, and a piece of music emerge from that soundscape, showing how the two are intimately connected.

Pieces could be inspired by sounds from our state’s people, places, industries, or wildlife. They could feature one of Oregon’s small towns, or the busiest street in Portland. It could represent Oregon’s future, or be drawn from the archives of the Oregon Historical Society. It could represent technology, under-represented communities, or one of Oregon’s open, natural spaces.

The only requirement is that the composer creates a piece that incorporates some concrete element of the recording into the music, and that the sound must be strongly associated with Oregon. The sound recording would be played immediately before the performance of the piece of music it inspired, such that the audience can immediately hear the connection.

The music should blend into the field recording or immediately follow it without a break. Any spoken introduction will happen before the recording is played. The PJCE can provide support to composers that need assistance making a field recording, including recording equipment, or to access the Oregon Historical Society’s audio archives.

The Details

Application Process

Proposals due by midnight, January 1, 2017, submitted by email to with the subject line “Oregonophony proposal.” We will select five composers out of those who apply to compose the pieces described in their proposals, awarding a commission fee of $300 to each.

  • There is no entry fee.
  • Winners will be notified by January 15, 2017.
  • Completed scores and parts from winning composers due April 1, 2017
  • Pieces should be approximately 9 to 12 minutes in length

Winning composers will provide the music director with a WAV or AIFF file of the recorded sound. Lower quality recordings only acceptable if there is no alternative. The PJCE can provide some support for composers that need help making their recordings, including recording equipment.

The PJCE encourages composers representing a diverse range of styles to apply, from traditional swinging jazz to non-standard or experimental styles. Collaborative teams are eligible, but no composer should be involved in more than one proposal as a composer or arranger.

The proposed piece must be for the PJCE’s signature instrumentation of twelve players:

Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bari Saxophone (Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet doubles are acceptable.)

Two trumpets, Horn in F, and Trombone (Flugelhorn and mutes are acceptable)

Guitar, Piano, Bass and Drums (Electric guitar, Acoustic bass and piano are standard; acoustic guitar, electric bass and keyboards are possible.)

See here for more information about our ensemble.


Only established or emerging professionals, or college-level students who currently live in Oregon are eligible. Additionally, composers who wrote original pieces for the PJCE in it’s 15-16 season are NOT eligible, but composers that wrote arrangements ARE eligible.


Every applying composer must submit a proposal that includes:

Links to two recordings, streamable by our panel, that reflect the applicant’s past work. Applicants can include a one to two sentence description of the work sample to give context.

Answers to the following questions, not to exceed 400 words each:

  1. Describe the sound that you would like to present as part of your piece. How does it represent Oregon? What does it mean to you? Why might it be interesting for our audience to hear it? Where will you make the recording, and how? Do you need any help from us to record the sound?
  2. Describe what you know about the music you would like to write for our ensemble. What musical techniques might you use? How does the music help tell a story about our state?

Each proposal should include a bio or resume of the applying composer. Please paste the text into your email, do not attach a document. 400-800 words.

Each proposal should include a written score for at least one of the pieces included in the applicant’s work sample. The score need not be written for a large ensemble, though applications that show experience with larger ensembles will be more competitive. Please attach a pdf document to your email.

Applicant’s contact information including phone number and physical address.

Criteria for selecting winning proposals:

A committee of five professional jazz educators, musicians, composers, PJCE staff and Board of Directors will pick winning proposals. Names of the panelists will be publicized after the selection is made.

Each proposal will be graded by the following criteria:

  1. 15 points – Vividness of the story told about Oregon by the field recording and proposed music
  2. 15 points – Creativity and originality of musical voice of composer based on provided work samples
  3. 10 points – Notation skills for instrumental jazz ensemble based on submitted score
  4. 5 points – More points awarded to composers with whom the PJCE has not worked with before, or worked with recently

Performance and rehearsal dates and venues:

  • April 13 – Willamette University, Salem
  • April 15 – Fremont Theatre, Portland
  • Two three-hour rehearsals, dates to be determined, Portland

Composers from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Please contact PJCE Executive Director Douglas Detrick with any questions about this proposal by email: