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50 for 50 Commissioning Project

To celebrate 50 years of the International Double Reed Society, the society created a commissioning project to add 50 new works for double reeds over the five years following the 50th Anniversary year.

Since IDRS was incorporated in 1971, commissioning has been a significant aspect of the Society’s mission. The goal of the 50 for 50 Commissioning Project is to celebrate IDRS at 50, and to acknowledge that the society has an important and ongoing responsibility to broaden the diversity of composers who write for double reeds.

50 for 50 Goals

  1. To commission 50 new compositions for double reeds over the next five years in celebration of the International Double Reed Society’s 50th Anniversary.
  2. To broaden and deepen the diversity of voices in, and repertoire for, the double reed playing community.
  3. To present a series of IDRS-commissioned world-premiere concerts and recitals over the course of the next five IDRS conferences, beginning with the 2021 Virtual Symposium.
  4. To promote a spirit of togetherness, artistic enrichment, and celebration for the project, the conference, and IDRS. 

Commissioning Competition and Grants

2023 Composition Competition for Young Composers

The competitors of this Composition Competition were students currently enrolled in a collegiate/conservatory music program during the 2023/24 school year or under the age of 26 and were required to submit a complete composition for double reed chamber instrumentation. Five (5) winners were selected.

Each work will be premiered at the IDRS Conference in Flagstaff, USA , 21-25 July, 2024 and each winning composer will receive a $1,000 USD fee.

Submissions for the competition have closed.
Read about the winners here.

2024 Grants

The purpose of these grants is to diversify the composers of double reed repertoire. These grants are given towards the commissioning of composers who are women, binary and nonbinary trans-identified and gender non-conforming persons, Black, Indigenous, people of color (Latinx, Asian, Middle-Eastern, etc) and historically underrepresented ethnic groups.

Four (4) winners of the 2024 Commissioning Grants will receive grants of 1,000 USD each. This money must be used to assist in the fulfillment of the composer’s fee. Each work will be premiered at the IDRS Conference in Flagstaff, USA , 21-25 July, 2024.

Learn More About the Winners

Any questions can be directed to

50 for 50 Commissioning Project Archive

Eight additional commissions were granted in 2021 through grants and a competition, all of which were judged by a panel of diverse artists and awarded exclusively to composers who are women, Black, Indigenous, people of color (Latinx, Asian, Middle-Eastern, etc), ethnic minorities, and/or gender non-conforming. The selected composers’ works were performed during the 2021 IDRS 2nd Virtual Symposium.

IDRS is excited to announce that Reena Esmail, Tania León, and Sean Shepherd have been selected as recipients of the 2021 commissions to compose works to be premiered at the 2022 IDRS Conference in Boulder, CO (USA). They will be composing works for oboe and piano, bassoon and piano, and a trio for oboe, bassoon and piano respectively.

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces.

Esmail’s work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale,  Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle,  Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta,  River Oaks Chamber OrchestraSan Francisco Girls Chorus, The Elora Festival, Juilliard415, and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Amherst College Choir and Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare.

Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence.  Previously, she was named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the S & R Foundation’s Washington Award.  Esmail was also a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. She was the 2012 Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and subsequent publication of a work by C.F. Peters)

Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music (MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18). Her primary teachers have included Susan BottiAaron Jay KernisChristopher Theofanidis and Martin BresnickChristopher Rouse and Samuel Adler. She received a Fulbright-Nehru grant to study Hindustani music in India. Her Hindustani music teachers include Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Gaurav Mazundar, and she currently studies and collaborates with Saili Oak. Her doctoral thesis, entitled Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in Hindustani and Western Art Musicians explores the methods and challenges of the collaborative process between Hindustani musicians and Western composers.

Esmail was Composer-in-Residence for Street Symphony (2016-18) and is currently an Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-culterual music connecting music traditions of India and the West.

She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Tania León, (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer and conductor and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been profiled on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, and independent films.

Commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt Quartet, Nestor Torres, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fest der Kontinente (Hamburg, Germany), Cincinnati Symphony, National Endowment for the Arts, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, American Composers Orchestra, The Library of Congress, Ensemble Modern, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Her works have been performed by such orchestras as the Leiopzig Gewandhaus Orchester, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the China National Symphony, and the NDR Orchestra, Germany. She has collaborated with authors and directors including John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Jamaica Kincaid, Mark Lamos, Julie Taymor, and Derek Walcott.

León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, received over 20 performances throughout Europe and Mexico. Commissioned by Hans Werner Henze and the city of Munich for the Fourth Munich Biennale, it took home the coveted BMW Prize. The aria “Oh Yemanja” (“Mother’s Prayer”) was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD, “The World So Wide.”

León has appeared as guest conductor with the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Marseille, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota, the Gewandhaus Orchester, Chamber Orchestra of Genève, the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra Mexico, Symphony Orchestra of Johannesburg, and the WaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa, as well as the Orquesta de la Comunidad y Coro de Madrid, and the New York Philharmonic, among others.


She has lectured at Harvard University and at the prestigious Mosse Lecture series at the University of Humboldt in Berlin, and was the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Scholar at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. León was also Visiting Professor at Yale University, Guest Composer/Conductor at the Hamburg Musikschule, Germany and the Beijing Central Conservatory, China.

A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra as their Latin American Advisor, and was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur. She is the founder and artistic director of Composers Now Festival and the Composers Now organization, a nonprofit in New York City founded in 2010 and dedicated to empowering all living composers, while celebrating the diversity of their voices and honoring the significance of their contributions to the cultural fabric of society. In 2017, a proclamation was presented to Tania León and Composers Now on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio in recognition of their contributions on behalf of living composers.

León has also received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin, and SUNY Purchase College, and has served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. She was Professor at Brooklyn College from 1985 to 2019 and at the Graduate Center of CUNY. She was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006. In 2010 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2017 she received the Mad Women Festival Award in Music, in Madrid, Spain.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Symphony Space’s Access to the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Fromm, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2012 she received both a Grammy nomination (for Best Contemporary Classical Composition) and a Latin Grammy nomination (for Best Classical Contemporary Composition) and in 2013 she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award. Most recently she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.

“An exciting composer of the new American generation” (New York Times), Sean Shepherd has earned wide acclaim and commissions from major ensembles and performers across the US and Europe. In 2012, Shepherd was named the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer, and has previously served as the Daniel R. Lewis Composer Fellow at the Cleveland Orchestra and composer-in-residence of the Reno Philharmonic.

His music has been commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Maison symphonique de Montréal, National Symphony Orchestra, and New World Symphony Orchestra, and with leading European ensembles including Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Conductors who champion Shepherd’s work include Kent Nagano, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Franz Welser-Möst, Andris Nelsons, Pablo Heras-Casado, Susanna Mälkki, and Matthias Pintscher. His works have been performed at festivals in Aldeburgh, Heidelberg, La Jolla, Lucerne, Santa Fe, Aspen, and Tanglewood.

Shepherd’s recent orchestral work Express Abstractionism has been performed across the continents by Boston Symphony Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, led by Andris Nelsons, and recorded by Boston Symphony Orchestra for Naxos Records. Other recent highlights include his new saxophone quintet Sonata à 5 for the Music Academy of the West; Melt for orchestra, which premiered at the Grand Teton Music Festival, led by Donald Runnicles; Echo for oboist Nicholas Daniel at the Aldeburgh Festival; wideOPENwide for violinist Jennifer Koh; and Concerto for Ensemble, which premiered at the Philharmonie de Paris, with Matthias Pintscher conducting Ensemble intercontemporain. Planned upcoming premieres in 2021 include String Quartet No. 3 for the Gewandhaus Quartet, a large-scale work for flutist Joshua Smith and percussionist Jacob Nissly at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and a major new piece for the Dresdner Festspiele and Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg, with cellist Jan Vogler and Kent Nagano conducting.

Shepherd’s Magiya, written for Carnegie Hall’s inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, toured the US and Europe in 2013 with Maestro Gergiev and continues to find enormous success with performances by several major orchestras around the world.

Shepherd’s education includes degrees in composition and bassoon performance from Indiana University, a master’s degree from The Juilliard School, and doctoral work at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

—September 2020
This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.