Composition Competition

The 2022 Grace Church Composition

We are delighted to announce that Chris Artley’s work The Kings They Came From Out The South has been awarded the 2022 Grace Church Composition Competition prize.

Chris Artley (b.1963) is a composer, music educator, accompanist, jazz pianist and chorister based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has won first prize in seventeen international composing competitions worldwide, including most recently, the 5th IFCM International Choral Composition Competition World Choral Day category, with On the Road of Life which has been made the official anthem for World Choral Day 2022 and 2023. Chris has had over 50 choral works published, by Helbling Verlag (Austria), PanaMusica (Japan), Royal School of Church Music (England) and SOUNZ (New Zealand). His works have been performed worldwide by ensembles including: Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Amadeus Choir of Toronto and Metropolitan Chorus of Tokyo. In May 2022, Musica International declared Chris Artley’s Missa Brevis Akarana, a jazz mass for choir and symphony orchestra, to be their favourite piece of month! More information available at

The Kings They Came From Out The South is a setting for SATB chorus, chamber orchestra and organ of Sara Teasdale’s poem, ‘Christmas Carol’. I was attracted to the text with its traditional message and regular flowing lines, which immediately provided inspiration for the music. For the most part the piece has a gentle lullaby feel to it, however, the final chorus concludes with a very rousing and grand ending. This work was especially tailored for the forces available in the Rutland Area Chorus and Orchestra.



2024 Composition Competition

Grace Congregational UCC in Rutland, Vermont, is pleased to announce its 2024 Composition Competition to recognize and support a new work for large concert choir and classical chamber orchestra to be performed by the Rutland Area Chorus and orchestra.

The contest is soliciting original unpublished compositions of settings of Advent or Christmas texts for SATB chorus, optional SATB soloists, and chamber orchestra. The pieces should be no longer than 8 minutes. The orchestra comprises three first and three second violins, two violas and two cellos, one double bass, two oboes, one bassoon, two trumpets, timpani, harpsichord and organ. The work must be scored for SATB chorus, but can use any combination of the available soloists and orchestra.

You must have proof of permission to use any text not in the public domain.

The winning work will be awarded $1,000.00 (USD) and two performances by the Rutland Area Chorus on December 8th, 2024, at Grace Congregational UCC. The winning composer is encouraged to attend the premiere of the composition. There is no stipend for travel but some housing arrangements may be available.

Competition Application Process

This competition is open to all composers regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or veteran status. Grace Congregational UCC and Rutland Area Chorus staff members are not permitted to enter the competition.

Composition guidelines:

  • The work should be for SATB choir (generally, no more than 4 parts but may include limited divisi), optional SATB soloists, and any combination of instruments from the classical chamber orchestra listed above.
  • The work should be up to 8 minutes in length (5-8 minutes preferable)
  • The work must not have been performed in any public setting or previously published. This is to be a premier performance.
  • If the intended lyrics are not in the public domain, and the composer is not the author and copyright holder of the lyrics, it is the responsibility of the composer to obtain permission from the copyright holder before the application deadline.
  • Include the date of the composition on the score.
  • Include the performance time on the score.

Items to submit:

  • All scores will be in PDF format
  • A brief bio, contact information, and description of the piece (PDF)
  • Proof of permission to use text (and any other copyright), if applicable.
  • An entry fee of $25.00 (USD) per submission must be received before entries are considered.

Cheques or money orders should be mailed to:

Composition Competition
Grace Congregational UCC Church
8 Court Street, Rutland, VT, 05701


Pay online using Tithely:

  1. In the “Give to” box, select: “Grace Church Composition Competition.”
  2. In the note/memo box, add name of composer and composition.

If you have any questions about this process please contact

Scores and all materials should be submitted electronically to

Pieces will be adjudicated by the Grace Congregational UCC and Rutland Area Chorus music staff. The judges decision will be final.

Composers retain copyright of music submitted. By submitting a composition in this competition, the winning composer agrees that your composition maybe photocopied for the purposes of adjudication, rehearsal and performance by the Rutland Area Chorus, and that the winning composer will provide orchestral parts as specified in the timeline below. Also, the winning composer grants Grace Congregational UCC the right to audio and video record the live performance, to distribute the recording for marketing/PR purposes, and to feature the recording on our website, and social media account at no cost to Grace Congregational UCC. The composer, with permission from Grace Congregational UCC, may use the recorded performance for future promotion of the work.


Submission deadline: 1 September, 2024

Winner announced by: 1 October, 2024

Winning entry orchestral parts required by: 1 November, 2024

Premier Performance: December 8th, 2024, at 3:30 and 7 pm.

Past Winners

We are pleased to announce that Michael Sitton is the winner of the 2019 Grace Church Composition Competition.   His work, O Emmanuel, for chamber orchestra, choir and soloists will be given its premiere on December 8, 2019 by the Rutland Area Chorus and Festival Orchestra.

O Emmanuel is a choral setting of a litany based on the Advent “O Antiphons,” for mixed choir, with a small solo group employed to sing an unaccompanied recurring refrain.  The piece is a predominantly lyrical setting with a quiet opening and closing and a variety of moods and textures within the setting reflective of each verse in the text. Instrumental support is primarily provided by string ensemble with additional support and added color from organ and timpani; a pair of oboes are featured both as solo instruments and for occasional doubling and obbligato material. While the text clearly ties to the Advent tradition and to Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the content is largely nonsectarian in its thrust and speaks to universal aspirations of hope and longing.

Michael Sitton has served since 2009 as Dean of the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, with previous service as Dean of Fine Arts at Eastern New Mexico University, and prior work as a music faculty member at several institutions. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His M.Mus. was earned at the University of Kentucky, and the B. Mus., summa cum laude, from Mars Hill College in his native North Carolina. He also holds the Diplôme de concert from Paris’ Schola Cantorum, where he studied as a Harriet Hale Woolley Scholar of the Fondation des Etats-Unis with pianist Gaby Casadesus, and attended the Conservatoire Américain at Fontainebleau.

Although by training and academic appointment a pianist, Michael Sitton has pursued a lively interest in composition, especially of choral music, during most of his career. A formative experience in this regard was singing under Choirmaster Jerald Hamilton in the Canterbury Choir of the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine at the University of Illinois. His choral compositions have been commissioned and performed by numerous churches and choirs nationwide, including commissions for national conferences of the Association of Anglican Musicians; other honors include numerous ASCAP annual awards. Over thirty of his works have been published by nine different publishers, and have been featured on recordings by preeminent ensembles as well as national radio and television broadcasts. He has had Vermont premieres of choral works at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Burlington and Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier.

He has performed widely as a recital and concerto soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist, and has conducted masterclasses, workshops, and written for publications in piano literature and pedagogy. He has served as a member of the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music and as one of its Accreditation Visitors, and has engaged in numerous campus, regional, and state initiatives in public and higher education in both New Mexico and New York.

Michael Sitton has announced his plans to retire from service as Dean of The Crane School in the summer of 2020, at which time he will become a full-time resident of Vermont, joining his partner Mark, who is on the staff of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, at their new home in Barre. Although he has been active both as a performer and composer during his administrative appointments, Sitton looks forward, once living full-time in Vermont, to increased activity in both of those musical areas.

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