Taproot New Music Festival
January 28–February 2, 2020

The Department of Music at the University of California, Davis, and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts present the Taproot New Music Festival January 28–February 2, 2020.

Featured Ensembles

Quince Ensemble
Comprised of vocalists Liz Pearse (soprano), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo soprano), Amanda DeBoer Bartlett (soprano), and Carrie Henneman Shaw (soprano), Quince thrives on unique musical challenges and genre-bending contemporary repertoire.

Spektral Quartet
The twice-Grammy nominated Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional repertoire and those written this decade, this year, or this week. Spektral Quartet includes Clara Lyon (violin), Maeve Feinberg (violin), Doyle Armbrust (viola), and Russell Rolen (cello).

Empyrean Ensemble
UC Davis Music Professor Mika Pelo, director
Ensemble-in-residence at UC Davis, the Empyrean Ensemble presents engaging, thought-provoking, eclectic programs, enabling audiences to experience new musical sensations delivered with high artistry by its seven extraordinary core players—the finest new music performers in California.


The Taproot New Music Festival  is now accepting applications for participating composers. The festival will take place on the campus of the University of California, Davis, during the week of January 27, 2020, and will culminate in weekend performances (January 28–February 2, 2020). Between six to eight selected visiting composers will travel to Davis for the festival, during which they’ll have new pieces performed, and will participate in seminars and workshops facilitated by the visiting ensembles and UC Davis composition faculty. The festival will feature Spektral Quartet and Quince Ensemble as visiting artists. In addition, two resident ensembles will perform: the Empyrean Ensemble (Mika Pelo, director) and the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra (Christian Baldini, music director).  The Taproot New Music Festival is a collaboration between the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and the UC Davis Department of Music.

To Apply

The festival provides composers from different backgrounds an opportunity to create new music, and to work in partnership with some of the most exciting musicians currently active on the national scene. We aim to make the festival open and inclusive. There’s no age limit, no application fee, no charge for tuition, and our online application process means that composers don’t have to mail hard copies. African/Black, Latinx, Asian/South Asian, Arab/Middle Eastern, Native American, women, and gender non-conforming composers are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please upload all application materials via the portal at the bottom of this page by 11:59 pm (Pacific Standard Time), June 1, 2019.

Composers can use the application form to indicate which ensemble or ensembles they’d like to collaborate with. You may apply to one, two, or all three of the categories (see below), but please note that if selected, composers will write only one new piece for the festival. Please don’t mail us any supporting materials. You can see our FAQ page for more details.

A. Quince Ensemble

Between two to three composers will each compose one new work for members of Quince. The new work can be a duo, trio, or treble vocal quartet. Note that Quince’s performers include three sopranos and one mezzo soprano (not SSAA). Please include in your application music that shows your ability to write for voice. Duration: 5–7 minutes.

B. Spektral Quartet

Between two to three composers will each write one new piece for Spektral Quartet. Please include in your application music that shows your ability to write for strings. Duration: 8–10 minutes.

C. Empyrean Ensemble

For performance by the Empyrean Ensemble (Mika Pelo, director)

1 flute, 1 clarinet, 1 piano, 1 percussion, 1 violin, 1 viola, and 1 cello (or any subset)

Two composers will each write one new composition for Empyrean Ensemble. We’ll consider works that include simple electronics. Duration: 10–12 minutes.

Application Checklist

  • work samples of up to three pieces (mp3 files and PDFs of scores);
  • project description;
  • résumé;
  • optional diversity statement;
  • completed application form.

Please make sure that all of the material you upload is labeled with your name. No letters of recommendation are required.

Additional Info

Participation in the festival includes a pass to all festival events, a professional recording of your work, rehearsals and workshops with the visiting ensembles, and composition seminars with members of the UC Davis music faculty.

We require participants to attend all festival events; these begin the morning of Wednesday, January 29, and continue through Sunday, February 2, 2020.  


  • June 1, 2019: deadline to apply.
  • July 1, 2019: notification of selection.
  • October 15, 2019: deadline for selected composers to finish works.
  • January 28–February 2, 2020: Taproot New Music Festival.


If you have any questions, please contact Sam Nichols at ssnichols@ucdavis.edu.


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