Request for Proposals for Opera Kansas' 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission

Style: A 1-2 act chamber opera, not to exceed 60 minutes in duration. Music should be thematic, melodic and accessible tonally to the inexperienced ear. Style could range from traditional classical to rock, jazz, R&B, or other. Text must be in English. Strong consideration will be given to compositions/proposals that include definable arias/duets, etc.

Compensation: $25,000.00
Selected composer will receive a premiere, a professional recording (audio and video) of the live performance, features on our website and social media, and the possibility of future performances. Expenses for attendance at premiere performance September 2020 will be covered. Composer will also have opportunity for lectures at local universities and audience events leading up to the premiere performance.

This call for proposals is open to anyone who defines him/her/themself as a composer of music.

Theme: The subject matter of the drama should center around the concept that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (James Baldwin). This concept should lead the main character(s) through a life altering experience or crisis of conscience to living a life of service and affecting change in their community and/or the world. Historical events or well known stories from literature that embrace this theme and that have endured through time will allow the composer to “jump into the action” without a lot of backstory to bring the audience up to speed. Examples such as John Newton a British slave trader turned abolitionist minister and author of Amazing Grace or Margaret Dryburgh, missionary to Singapore, interned in a camp in Sumatra during WWII, who created a vocal orchestra by transcribing orchestral works from memory and is the subject of the 1997 film Paradise Road. A contemporary example would be Malala Yousafzai.


Opera Kansas brings innovative, affordable and accessible opera to communities and schools throughout Kansas, while providing emerging musicians artistic opportunities in a respectful, professional environment. Opera Kansas introduces the art form of opera to thousands. In 2016, Opera Kansas, with the patronage of Dr. Lyle and Debi Zepick, created the Zepick Modern Opera Competition. This competition has yielded exciting new chamber operas in 2016 and 2018. Opera Kansas and the Zepicks believe that the next step for this program is to collaboratively create a work with a composer to be premiered in 2020.

September 1, 2019, 11:59PM Central Standard Time

3-5 voices: Voicing choices should be considerate of the limitations that often face small to medium sized companies, i.e. Countertenors are difficult to find. Please be practical in your choices especially considering we hope this work will be reproduced by other companies similar to ours and in university settings.
2-4 Instruments: piano is required. Instrumentations should also be considerate of the limitations that often face small to medium sized companies and university settings, virtuosity should be kept in check. A playable piano reduction will be required in the final draft for rehearsal purposes.

Content of submission:
Font: Times New Roman Pt. 12

Please include the following in one e-mail:
-A 1-page (300 words) bio (PDF), including your most current contact information, website(s), and social media handles.

-A Curriculum Vitae (PDF) maximum 3 pages.

-A 1 – 3 page (PDF) description of your proposed new work. Possible elements to consider are structure of the work, instrumentation (full or subset), duration (45 minutes minimum 60 minutes maximum). If you have research or bibliographical information to include please provide in a separate document.

-Please include, in a SEPARATE DOCUMENT FROM YOUR PROPOSAL, the full text only if the libretto is available, or a synopsis of the story that you would like to use in the proposed work, proof of public domain or permission to use the text or story.

-Previous Work Examples: 2 – 3 samples of PDF scores AND audio files of your previous work. (MIDI is not acceptable)

-Please provide 2-3 examples of vocal or instrumental motivic ideas (6-8 measures, or 10-15 seconds) that you would feature in this specific opera project. (MIDI recordings are acceptable for these examples only)

Timeline of the project:
Proposals accepted until September 1, 2019, 11:59 Central Standard Time

Proposals will be reviewed and the selected composer will be notified by October 15th, 2019.

February 15, 2020 First Draft due for score review.

April 15, 2020 Second Draft due for score review

Final draft due by July 1, 2020

Rehearsals for a September 2020 performance will begin in July 2020.

-Please submit proposals to:
Please use the subject heading: Call for Proposals Zepick Modern Opera 2020: “Your Name”

Please don’t hesitate to ask! Send any inquiries to: and please visit for more information about what we do and who we are. We are looking forward to reviewing your work!

1 Sep 2019
U.S. Dollar (USD)