The Ravel Challenge 2017

Join us in our inaugural Ravel Challenge 2017! Our founder, Ron Jones, conceived the Ravel Study Groups and named them after one of the most renowned masters of orchestration in history. Building on that, we’re introducing a community challenge open to all composers, arrangers, and orchestrators who attend our monthly studies. We’re taking the first pages of one of Ravel’s piano pieces, Alborada del Gracioso (“Morning Song of the Jester”) and giving you the chance to try your hand at orchestrating it. We’ll supply a piano score and MIDI file if you need it, and you’re free to orchestrate for any type of ensemble you like: MIDI, live, chamber, large, acoustic, orchestral, or electronic.

The Challenge is open to any composer in the Los Angeles area who plans to attend our August 12, 2017 Ravel Study.

Maurice Ravel
Download MIDI file
Download Score (PDF)

How to Take Part

Submit your score and MP3 by August 7 and we will play it at our following Ravel study group on August 12, 2017, which will feature the internationally renowned composer, orchestrator, and teacher Thomas Goss, who will join us in listening to and critiquing the submissions. After we listen to all of them, we’ll take a listen to Ravel’s own orchestration of the Alborada. Hence, the only rule to this challenge is: you may not listen to Ravel’s version before working on your own!

There is no fee to enter and no prize to win. This is a chance to enjoy the Academy of Scoring Arts’s community, get valuable critique on your own work, and to sharpen your skills as a composer and orchestrator. So get orchestrating!

For more frequently asked questions, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Submit Your Orchestration Now

deadline: August 7


Buy tickets by following the link below for $25 (pre-sale price) or $30 (door price). The event will take place at Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City, CA, on August 12, 2017. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter in order to receive updated information on the event.

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About Thomas Goss

Thomas Goss

Thomas Goss is a professional composer and orchestrator with an international roster of clients. He has worked with such talents as Billy Ocean, Melanie C, Sharon Corr, and Nikki Yanofsky. His compositions, orchestrations, and crossover arrangements have been performed by such ensembles as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Chamber Ensemble.

Thomas is also a pioneer in the field of orchestral education programs. In his adopted country of New Zealand, every full-time orchestra from Christchurch Symphony to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has performed his educational programming. His piece for narrator and orchestra, “Tane and the Kiwi,” was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia in 2002, and has been performed many times across New Zealand since then. Thomas has also composed two legends for orchestra based on Maori sources: “Maui’s Fishhook” and “Battle of the Mountains,” both commissioned and premiered by the Vector Wellington Orchestra.

In Thomas’s current role as Education Composer-in-residence for Vector Wellington Orchestra, he has composed and presented a yearly series of orchestra discovery programs for young listeners ages 2 to 6, called “Baby Pops.” Now in its 7th year, this ongoing series has introduced tens of thousands of children in New Zealand’s Lower North Island region to orchestral instruments and music through song, story-telling, and active participation.

Thomas Goss is also a strong supporter of orchestras on the community and youth level. He served for six years as composer in residence for the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, composing numerous concertos and string orchestra works, featuring some of the best players from the ranks as soloists. These works continue to be programmed, such as Thomas’s Double Bass concerto, which was the repertoire of bassist Louis Van Der Mespel’s prize winning showing at the 2012 Wellington Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition. Thomas has also worked with numerous other non-professional groups, like the American Philharmonic Cotati, who commissioned and premiered his “Phoenix Concerto” with erhu (Chinese violin) virtuoso Xiaofeng Zheng in 2005.

Thomas is also in demand as a writer on music, having contributed interviews, articles, and reviews to such journals as 20th/21st Century Music, San Francisco Classical Voice, and New Zealand Musician Magazine. He is a regular on-air presenter with Radio New Zealand Concert’s many programs such as Appointment, The Critic’s Chair, and Composer of the Week.

Thomas Goss has been using notation software since it was first developed for the personal computer in the 1980’s, and became a Sibelius user from its first version in the year 2000. He has scored over 20 hours of professionally performed orchestral music using Sibelius, and many more chamber pieces and piano works. His YouTube Channel, Orchestration Online, features a detailed review of the latest version of Sibelius, along with advice on orchestration, score-reading, and many other topics for the composer-in-training.

Thomas lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife Erica and son Charlie, and one very unappreciative cat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I do this?

Take Ravel’s piano version (MIDI file and PDF score available above) and orchestrate it for any ensemble you want, starting at the beginning, and going as far as you like. (Ideally, the first 32 measures.) For presentation purposes, we’ll need you to send us an MP3 recording of it (MIDI mockups are fine), and we’d also love to get a copy of your notation in PDF format and Sibelius format if available. If you’re not an expert copyist, that’s OK. We’re not judging you on your notation skills. But it is helpful for us to see how you orchestrated it.

What instruments or type of ensemble may I orchestrate for?

Anything you want. Acoustic, electronic, chamber, orchestral, esoteric…this challenge is limited only by your imagination.

How much of it do I need to orchestrate?

It’s up to you. We’ll challenge you to do the first 32 bars, which takes us right up to the first three fortissimo bars. It’s a very detailed piece, so it will take some time. Please don’t attempt the whole piece. (We don’t have time for that!) You do not have to use every note that Ravel wrote. You may also interpret some of his techniques in any way you like. (In other words, you can add notes that he didn’t write, however, our goal in this is to stretch our orchestration skills, not to re-compose.)

What if my sample libraries aren’t very good?

That’s fine. We won’t judge you on the realism of your MP3. Do the best you can with what you have.

What if I don’t have a notation program like Finale, Sibelius, or Dorico?

Like the MP3, we’re not judging you on the quality of your notation. If you’re able to generate some kind of PDF score, it’s very helpful for us to visually see how you orchestrated the score. Submissions without any PDF score will still be considered, but prioritized lower than the others.

Can I record a live ensemble?

Sure! On your own dime, though.

Any other rules?

Just don’t listen to Ravel’s own orchestration, because the goal here is to stretch your orchestration skills, not to emulate Ravel. We’ll study Ravel’s orchestration after we play the composer submissions.

Will I get a personal critique?

We’re going to do our best to try and play every submission and critique it at our August 12 Ravel Study. If we get too many submissions, we may not be able to play all of them. Preference will be given to the first submissions received, and to the composers who are there in person.

What if I’m not in Los Angeles and/or not able to attend on August 12?

Unfortunately, for this particular inaugural Challenge, we can’t accept your submission. But feel free to work on it anyway for your own education! Also, you could post it to various orchestration forums around the internet to get some feedback.

What if I still have questions?

Use our Contact page to ask us, and we’ll help you out.