Washington Composers Forum (WCF) is a non-profit arts organization that nurtures the creation, performance, and dissemination of contemporary music. WCF presents opportunities in Washington State for composers everywhere. With a passionate commitment to composers and performers, WCF connects artists and audiences through its programs. Since its founding in 1984, WCF has produced concerts, readings, and lectures in the U.S. and Canada, representing many composers in the region.
Programs include calls for scores, free public presentations, score archive, concert series, education and audience outreach, and support and promotion of projects by individual artists.
WCF aspires to highlight the diverse and ingenious activity of composers and performers through its online presence and First Hand newsletter.
Attracting strong interest from the public, WCF has received sustained funding from the Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission, Meet the Composer, SeaFirst Bank Corporation, and generous donations from the private sector.
WCF has collaborated with such organizations as the Seattle Art Museum, Town Hall, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Symphony, Jack Straw Productions, Richard Hugo House, Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, Northwest Mahler Festival, Seattle Chamber Players, Baroque Northwest, Seattle Viola Society, Seattle Composers Alliance, Seattle Composers’ Salon, Vancouver Pro Musica, Seattle Spring Festival and many music ensembles.
WCF provides invaluable services to composers, performers and audiences, and has become a nexus for contemporary music. Through sponsored events, concerts and talks, WCF presents the public with the wealth of new music activity in the Northwest.
Washington Composers Forum is a member of ASCAP, BMI, and the Washington State Arts Alliance.
In this context, “new" or "contemporary" music covers a wide variety of work including concert music, film and theater music, jazz composition, electronic and computer music, and sound installation, all of which may contain elements of improvisation, and are without stylistic restriction.
Washington Composers Forum was founded in 1984 by former composition students of the University of Washington (UW) and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. They came together to produce concerts of their own works, as well as those of other composers. Early members included David Jones, Paige Wheeler, Mark Hoover, Bun-Ching Lam, Andrew Buchman, Karen P. Thomas, Ross Patterson, and Esther Sugai.
WCF participated in the Seattle Spring International Festival of contemporary and world music, dance, drama, film, food and the visual arts.The festival was founded by Bob Priest, Scott Lakin Jones, and Joel Salsman. The festival ran five years from April 1988 to April 1992, and the first year's events occured at the Nippon Kan Theatre.
WCF recovered from the tragic death of its President, Scott Lakin Jones, in 1989, and went on to produce several concert series of electro-acoustic works, including Sound Now (1988-90), Stop Look Listen (1991, 1993), and Sonic Images (1995). Then led by Director Ron Fein, WCF devoted a series to electronic music by local composers and international masters entitled Electro-Nights (1996-97). WCF was included in the Sproing Festival presented by Vancouver Pro Musica (1990).
WCF also organized a call for scores in conjunction with the Music in Motion residency of the ensemble Present Music at Cornish College of the Arts (1994). In the same year WCF celebrated the opening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum with a concert entitled A Cool Breeze in Summer, and supported the creation of a new work by choreographer Crispin Spaeth and composer Wayne Horvitz for D-9 Dance Collective's Ruckus concert.
After a short period of dormancy, in 1999 WCF was re-formed by a committee led by composer Janice Giteck. The organization then implemented its plans for renewal, including the development of a close relationship with Jack Straw Productions, the Northwest's non-profit audio arts center. New services include a free public presentation series, national calls for scores, and collaborations with ensembles.
Press for WCF
"New ideas, new approaches, new work by creative composers - that is what you get at a Washington Composers Forum concert."
- Seattle Weekly
WCF's "concert pushed boundaries, which is always to the good." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"The sense of adventure and commitment . . . was palpable and contagious." - Seattle Times
Special projects have included sponsorship of the 2001 Tango to Tambov project, which sent young flutists to tambov, Russia to perform new music in master classes and concerts. Created by MacArthur award-winning Trimpin, the Klavier Nonette project (2002) featured over forty composers’ works for a room of electronically controlled toy pianos.
The Contemporary Violin series featured soloists Karen Bentley Pollick, Eric Rynes, and Darragh Morgan performing music by American and European composers.
Launched in 2006, the Transport series of compelling performances by international and local artists, offers a way out of audio gridlock to music’s far horizons.
Composer Spotlight series – Free monthly public presentations and performances featuring visiting and local composers and performers, often giving previews of upcoming concerts and recording projects. The event is co-presented and hosted by Jack Straw Productions, a non-profit audio arts center.
Calls for scores – WCF administers several national calls for scores each year, allowing composers to submit works anonymously to be chosen for performance by a variety of ensembles from solo violin to electronically controlled player pianos to wind band to orchestra. The performers choose the works and the composers receive a recording.
Concerts – WCF offers several concerts a year, often in conjunction with calls for scores, and often co-presented with another organization.
Readings – WCF offers occasional readings of work-in-progress to assist composers in their development.
Score archive – WCF hosts an archive of over 400 scores from composers across the U.S. and Canada, many with recordings, on offer to performers and ensembles.
Resources – Online resources include a performer roster, material for career development, and a monthly e-newsletter, First Hand, presenting composer and performer opportunities and events.