Young Composers Contest

Make Music Day

The Make Music Alliance is thrilled to announce the third annual Young Composers Contest, in partnership with world-renowned vocal group The Swingles.

Composers aged 13 to 21 were invited to set the text of the poem “A Jelly-Fish” by Marianne Moore to music for The Swingles. A panel of distinguished judges, including The Swingles’ Jo Goldsmith-Eteson and Jon Smith, baritone Christopher Herbert, and composer Christopher Tin, selected a winning composition, which has now been recorded by The Swingles.

Winning Composer: Matthias Bergmann of Lienz, Tirol, Austria

About The Swingles

The Swingles are one of the world’s most admired and loved vocal groups. With a natural flair as entertainers, their stylish shows take them to venues and festival stages across the world. Praised for their “stunning reinventions… audacious harmonies… and superhero singing to truly raise goosebumps” (The Guardian), The Swingles have earned five Grammy Awards and are recipients of prestigious international accolades year after year. With generations of fans from their live performances and appearances on film and TV soundtracks, The Swingles’ musical evolution and creative drive makes them as relevant today as when Ward Swingle started the group nearly six decades ago.As you get ready to write a piece for the Swingles, check out their MMD Playlists on Spotify and YouTube to get an idea of their sound.

Noteflight has joined with Make Music Day and The Swingles to offer entrants to the competition a free, 3 month trial of Noteflight Premium!

  • The contest is open to composers who are between 13 and 21 years old on the closing date of the contest (Sunday May 22nd 2022).
  • Entries can be created in any notation software. Make Music Alliance and The Swingles have partnered with Noteflight to offer entrants a free 3 month trial of Noteflight Premium; select the monthly plan option and use coupon code “MakeMusicDay22″. You will need to enter a credit card number but can cancel anytime before you are charged. Alternately, you can sign up here for a free, 30-day trial of Noteflight Premium with no credit card needed.
  • Contestants must submit both PDF and MusicXML files of their composition. (Instructions on exporting PDF and MusicXML scores in Noteflight are here.)
  • All submissions are due by 11:59pm ET (New York time) on Sunday, May 22nd, 2022.
  • All licensing rights to pieces submitted will remain with each composer.
  • Compositions must be written for The Swingles, a 7 voice vocal group; further details and range charts are here (pdf).
  • Compositions must use the text of the poem “A Jelly-Fish” by Marianne Moore. This poem is in the public domain. No other text may be used.
  • Compositions must be no more than four minutes long. Composers may submit no more than one composition each.
  • There is no fee to apply.
  • The winning composition will be recorded by The Swingles and released on Make Music Day.
  • Click here for the complete contest rules (pdf).

To enter, submit your finished score to either one of these Google forms:

Submit here (upload scores directly; Google sign-in required)
Submit here (upload scores to Dropbox or Google Drive and send us links)

Deadline: May 22, 2022 at 11:59pm ET (New York time)


Jo Goldsmith-Eteson

Jo has been a member of The Swingles as a singer, songwriter, composer and arranger for 16 years and is currently the longest serving member, second only to Ward Swingle himself. She has performed on the world’s most famous stages with the group, from La Scala to Ronnie Scott’s in all styles and genres. As a session singer, Jo has performed live BVs for Mozez (Zero 7), Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins/Massive Attack) and Mari Wilson; studio vocals for Coldplay, Jon Hopkins and Max Richter; provided vocals for several TV shows and advertisements, and over 75 feature films including Wonder Woman 1984 (for which she was a featured soloist), Avengers: Endgame, Jurassic World, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Cruella and Don’t Look Up. Her voice has featured on numerous video games including Halo, Overwatch and World of Warcraft and she has recorded tracks for theme park rides at Disneyland Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. In 2017, Jo co-wrote and performed a song with the Swingles for the end credits of the Matt Damon film Downsizing and her arrangements have won several Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards.

Christopher Dylan Herbert

Christopher Dylan Herbert is a baritone who performs frequently throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He is a two-time GRAMMY® nominee. He has soloed with The San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performed with International Contemporary Ensemble and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and he regularly presents Winterize – an outdoor adaptation of Winterreise with transistor radios. He frequently develops new opera and concert works, including commissions by Hannah Lash, Gregory Spears, Laura Kaminsky, and Ellen Reid. Dr. Herbert holds a B.A. in Music from Yale University, an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, and a D.M.A. in Voice from The Juilliard School. He is the head of the voice program at William Paterson University in New Jersey, and he is the baritone in the critically acclaimed ensemble New York Polyphony. His current research focuses on the music of the eighteenth-century Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania.

Jon Smith

Jon Smith is a vocalist, arranger, director, vocal coach, and recording engineer from New York. He currently sings Tenor in the five-time Grammy-winning vocal group, The Swingles. While on tour with The Swingles, Jon has had the chance to sing alongside world-renowned artists such as Gareth Malone, Kurt Elling, New York Voices, and The Real Group. In addition to touring with The Swingles, Jon is an accomplished session singer specialising in pop, jazz, gospel, and classical/choral music. He has sung on movie soundtracks such as “Downsizing,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Cats,” “Jingle Jangle,” and “Wonder Woman 1984.” Jon’s award-winning arrangements can be heard on many a cappella compilation albums (BOCA, Voices Only, Sing) and have also been featured on SKY 1’s TV Show “Sing: Ultimate A cappella.” While working on the show, Jon arranged for the Billboard chart-topping British band, The Vamps. Jon specializes as a coach and masterclass clinician for high school, collegiate, and professional singing groups all across the world, many of whom have gone on to receive high placements and special awards at competitions for their performances.

Christopher Tin

Christopher Tin is a two-time Grammy-winning composer of concert and media music. His music has been performed and premiered in many of the world’s most prestigious venues: Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and the Hollywood Bowl. He has also been performed by ensembles as diverse as the Philharmonia Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, and US Navy Band, and has also conducted concerts of his own music with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Welsh National Opera Orchestra. His song “Baba Yetu”, originally written for the video game “Civilization IV”, is a modern choral standard, and the first piece of music written for a video game ever to win a Grammy Award. In addition to scoring films and video games, he is also an in-demand collaborator, working with artists across a wide-range of musical genres: Lang Lang, Alan Menken, BT, and Danny Elfman, to name a few. He is published by Boosey & Hawkes and Concord, and is signed to an exclusive recording contract with Decca Records/Universal Music Classics.

A Jelly-Fish

by Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,
An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm
Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;
You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;
You abandon
Your intent—
It opens, and it
Closes and you
Reach for it—
The blue
Surrounding it
Grows cloudy, and
It floats away
From you.

Poet Marianne Moore (1887–1972) was widely recognized for her work; among her many honors were the Bollingen prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise, capable of suggesting a variety of ideas and associations within a single, compact image. In his 1925 essay “Marianne Moore,” William Carlos Williams wrote about Moore’s signature mode, the vastness of the particular: “So that in looking at some apparently small object, one feels the swirl of great events.” She was particularly fond of animals, and much of her imagery is drawn from the natural world.