composer workshop

CalState L.A. Choral Composer Workshop

April 10-12, 2015

Application Deadline: February 1, 2015 - 11:59pm, Pacific Time.



INSPIRAVI Chamber Choir

Dr. Sébastien Vallée, Director of Choral Studies
California State University, Los Angeles

Dr. Sara Graef, Professor of Composition and Theory
California State University, Los Angeles

Dr. James Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of Composition
University of Southern California

Composers are invited to submit up to two works for consideration 
for the 2015 CalState L.A. Choral Composer Workshop.


Composers may attend the workshop at one of three levels:
•    Featured Composers will have one work selected to be performed by professional choir INSPIRAVI on the main workshop concert, and are encouraged to attend all workshop concerts and activities.
•    Participating Composers will have one work read by INSPIRAVI during a reading session (which will be recorded), and are encouraged to attend all workshop concerts and activities.
•    Auditors are encouraged to attend all workshop concerts and activities.

All composers selected as Featured Composers or Participating Composers must register for and attend the workshop.

Who may apply:
The workshop is open to undergraduate and graduate composition students  as well as post-graduate and professional composers of any age and nationality.

Workshop Tuition:
There is not fee for submission, but selected composers and auditors must register for and attend the workshop.
•    Featured Composer: $395
•    Participating Composer: $295
•    Auditors: $95

Submission guidelines:
•    Composers may submit up to two works for consideration. 
•    Length: Pieces may be any length, but preference will be given to shorter pieces (3-4 minutes).
•    Scores should be a capella or with keyboard accompaniment, and must include a piano reduction for rehearsal purposes.
•    Pieces must be for 4-part, SATB chorus. (divisi up to 12 parts)
•    Pieces should have been composed within the last five years.
•    Composers must have written permission to use any texts not in the public domain.
•    Pieces may have been previously performed, but preference will be given to pieces without an extensive performance or award history.

All submissions must be e-mailed to:
Please do not mail hard copies.

Submission materials:
If you are applying to be a Featured Composer or Participating Composer:
Please send:
•    PDF of the score, including proof of permission for any texts not in the public domain.
•    Recording of the piece (MIDI recordings will be accepted, but live recordings are far preferable)
•    A one-page resume
•    A 150-word (maximum) bio
•    The performance history of the piece(s) you are submitting
•    A statement that specifies whether you are interested in attending the workshop as a Participating Composer or Auditor if you are not selected as a Featured Composer.

If you are applying to be an Auditor:
•    Please send a 1-page resume and 150-word bio.

All submissions must be received by: February 1, 2015, 11:59pm, Pacific Time.
Composers will be notified by: March 1, 2015
Featured Composers and Participating Composers must provide 30 hard copies of the score by: March 15, 2015

Copies of scores for selected pieces:
•    Scores must be double-sided, folded, and center-stapled on 8.5” x 11” or 8.5” x 14” paper. Please do not submit spiral or comb-bound scores.
•    Texts must be large enough to comfortably read.
•    Must use transposed tenor clef (not bass clef) for tenor parts.

Please contact Dr. Sébastien Vallée at
with any questions regarding the workshop or your submissions.



Faculty Biographies

Dr. Sara Graef
Sara Carina Graef was awarded the Northridge Composition Prize for her orchestral score, night shows to my eyes the stars, and won the Premio Citta’ di Pescara Composition Competition in Italy for her piano solo, Nottanosti. She was the recipient of the Sadye J. Moss Endowed Musical Composition Prize and the Hans J. Salter Award for Composition, and was elected to membership in Phi Kappa Lambda. She has held residencies at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Ucross Foundation, the Ragdale Foundation, the Hambidge Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Ernest Bloch Festival, and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium. 

Her music has been performed around the United States as well as in Canada and the Czech Republic. Performances include her commission for the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra (now the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra), Cooling in the Peppermint Wind, performed by both the Tupelo Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra,  Softly Dancing from the Polar Sky and U.S. Patent No. 821,393. FLYING MACHINE. O. & W. Wright, both for symphonic wind ensemble, her arrangement of the Welsh carol, All Through the Night, for orchestra and children’s chorus, Consilience for violin and piano, and Building 58 for player piano, which was part of the Los Angeles-based “Player Piano Project” composers’ consortium commissioning project. In addition to concert music, she has music-directed and composed music for various film, live theater, and television projects, including  “How ‘bout Now?” - a multi-media, interdisciplinary project at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Sara was born in Nassau County, New York in 1971, where she lived until 1986, when she moved with her family to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She earned her Bachelor of Music in flute performance and composition from Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Southern California, where her principal teachers were James Hopkins, Morten Lauridsen, and Erica Muhl. She served as the President of Friends of Music at Cal State L.A. for seven years, helping to raise money for scholarships for Cal State L.A. music majors, and has served on the board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Composers Forum. She is currently a Professor of Music at Cal State L.A., and has previously taught at the University of Southern California and Whittier College. In addition to her work in music, she served for several years as the Stranding Coordinator for the Alaska Whale Foundation - a non-profit research organization in southeast Alaska.  

Her most recent compositions include a brass quintet written for the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center in upstate New York, a violin trio written for the young artists at the Luzerne Music Center, and a song cycle for soprano, trumpet, and piano, which was commissioned by  Oxford, Mississippi-based performers Nancy Maria Balach and John Schuesselin and premiered in March, 2014.

Dr. James Hopkins

James F. Hopkins is Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. A native of Pasadena, California, he received a Bachelor of Music degree from U.S.C., a Master of Music from Yale, and a Ph.D. from Princeton. Prior to returning to teach at his alma mater in l97l, he served on the faculty at Northwestern University. He studied composition with Halsey Stevens, Quincy Porter and Edward T. Cone. Dr. Hopkins, an Associate of the American Guild of Organists, has also studied organ with Irene Robertson and Frank Bozyan. He retired as Organist at the First United Methodist Church, Pasadena, in 2003 after serving there for 24 years.

Dr. Hopkins's compositions include seven symphonies, four concertos - one each for two pianos, contrabass, organ, and piano and violin - and several other large-scale works for orchestra as well as many choral, solo instrumental, and chamber pieces. He has received major commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra, the University of Southern California and the Orange County Philharmonic Society as well as from numerous churches and educational institutions. His Concierto de Los Angeles, commissioned for the 2004 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists, was the first organ work heard in concert on the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ.

In 1989, his Fantasy on 'Cortège et Litanie' of Marcel Dupré won first prize in the international composition contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Dr. Hopkins won the 1990 AGO/Möller Prize in Choral Composition for The Peace Which Passeth Understanding and a Fellowship from the California Arts Council for 1991. He was named winner of the AGO-ECS Award in Choral Composition in 1992 for his Welcome All Wonders. In 1995 he received USC’s Ramo Music Faculty Award for his ‘outstanding contribution to music and education.’ Dr. Hopkins was Composer-in-Residence for the Pacific Chorale, 1996-98.

Among ensembles and performers who have presented Dr. Hopkins' music are the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony, Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Portland Symphony, Washington Choral Society, American Repertory Singers, Chicago Brass Quintet, Denver Symphony, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada (Spain); organists Cherry Rhodes, David Higgs, Frederick Swann, and Diane Meredith Belcher; the Western Arts Trio, and the Fine Arts Quartet. 

Dr. Sébastien Vallée

Active conductor, scholar, clinician, and adjudicator, Sébastien Vallée is Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Los Angeles where he teaches conducting at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, directs the Three- Summer Master of Music in Choral Conducting, and conducts the University’s choral ensembles and opera productions. Prior to his appointment at CalState L.A., Dr. Vallée was on the choral faculty of the University of Redlands. Ensembles under his direction have sung for the California Music Educators Conferences and were awarded first place at the San Luis Obispo International Choral Competition in 2011.  

Vallée has studied under such renowned conductors as Chester Alwes, Eduardo Diazmunoz, Iwan Edwards, Agnes Grossman, Chantal Masson-Bourque, Nicole Paiement, Raphaele Ponti, Miroslav Papsavov, Donald Schleicher, and Jon Washburn. Dr. Vallée holds degrees from the Université Laval, the Université de Sherbrooke, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition to his interest in choral, operatic, and orchestra music, Vallée is an advocate for contemporary music, making one of his priorities to premiere and commission works by young composers and program rarely performed repertoire. Dr. Vallée is also founder and director of INSPIRAVI, a 20-voice professional chamber choir, Artistic Director of the Mountainside Master Chorale, and Choir Director at Glendale City Church, and Director of Music at Pasadena First United Methodist Church.