OVERVIEW: The BMI Foundation works to encourage the "creation, performance and study of music" through their various awards, scholarships, internships, grants, and commissions. These are given to individuals and nonprofit music organizations around the country in support of everything from classical music groups, to "musical theatre programs for inner-city youngsters, to programs designed to preserve and continue such indigenous American music as jazz and blues."
IP TAKE: The BMI Foundation has a long list of awards, grants, scholarship, and other modes of support for a variety of individuals and organizations. Most all of these are for classical forms of music, along with jazz and blues. Several of these awards are only for participants in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, which is itself a valuable program for those interested in musical theatre, and free of charge to admitted applicants.
PROFILE: Most all of the BMI Foundation's funding comes from "BMI affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers, BMI employees, and members of the public with a special interest in music." They say that many of their donors give to the Foundation "in the spirit of giving back to the field of music, which they feel has been generous to them." The Foundation has numerous programs:
BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarships - This is a $5,000 scholarship awarded annually to a rising jazz star pursuing an advanced academic degree in Jazz Studies or Jazz Performance.
BMI Student Composer Awards - These are prizes for student composers of classical music under the ages of 28. The award money, totaling $20,000, is meant to help aid in their ongoing education in classical music.
Boudleaux Bryant Commissions - This program funds the creation of new chamber works by former winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards. For each of these commissions, the Foundation chooses a "prominent contemporary music performer or organization and they in turn select a former BMI Student Composer Award-winning composer to write the commissioned work." Applications are by invitation only.
Carlos Surinach Commissions - This program also funds the creation of new works by former winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards by identifying orchestras, chamber music groups, and classical soloists with a strong record of performing contemporary music which in turn select a composer to write the commissioned work. Applications are by invitation only.
Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize - This is a prize of a $3,000, presented annually for the best new work created in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. That work is then premiered at the following year's showcase concert by the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra. Applications are by invitation only; however, the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop is open to any emerging or developing jazz composers and meets regularly in BMI's New York office.
David N. Baker Jazz Composition Scholarship - This $2,500 scholarship is presented annually to a full-time junior, senior or graduate Jazz Studies student at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. "Recipients are chosen based on academic and artistic record, with preference given to females and students of color. Candidates must demonstrate excellence in writing significant original work in the jazz idiom." Applications are by invitation only.
Ellen Schwartz Award - The Ellen Schwartz Award for Outstanding Literary Merit in Lyric Writing is presented annually to a Second or Third Year participant of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, a Tony-honored program for new writers of musical theatre. This $1,000 award was presented for the first time in 2015. Applications are by invitation only; however, the Musical Theatre Workshop is free of charge to admitted participants. The workshop's application requirements are listed here.
Evelyn Buckstein Scholarship - Two of these scholarships are given out each year to students who are working to become professional songwriters, composers, performers, or music teachers and provides full tuition to attend the City College of New York. Applications are by invitation only, and preference is given to women and students of color.
General Grants - These grants are given out in order to further the "creation, performance and study of contemporary music." They place an emphasis on "classical, jazz, and the musical theatre genres and a preference for programs which directly involve living American composers." Currently applications are by invitation only.
Jean Banks Award - This is a $500 award presented annually to the lyricist(s) and composer(s) of the best ten-minute musical created in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, a Tony-honored program for new writers of musical theatre. Applications are by invitation only; however, the Musical Theatre Workshop is free of charge to admitted participants. The workshop's application requirements are listed here.
Jeffrey Cotton Awards - Presenting organizations may apply for these grants as a part of their proposal for BMI Foundation's General Grants. They are intended to "defray the cost of rehearsing and presenting in concert the second performance of a chamber or orchestral work by an American composer."
Jerry Bock Musical Theatre Award - This is a $2,000 award, which is split between the composer and lyricist of a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop project. Finalists are recommended by the Workshop Steering Committee and winners are selected by the BMI Foundation. Applications are by invitation only; however, the Musical Theatre Workshop is free of charge to admitted participants. The workshop's application requirements are listed here.
Jerry Harrington Musical Theatre Awards - These are awards presented annually to a writer in each of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop groups by the moderator of each group. They vary by year: First Year $500, Second Year $600, Advanced $1000, and Librettist $500. Applications are by invitation only; however, the Musical Theatre Workshop is free of charge to admitted participants. The workshop's application requirements are listed here.
Lionel Newman Conducting Scholarship - This scholarship is a $10,000 award to support the Music Director and Conductor of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles, "one of the oldest and most distinguished pre-professional training orchestras in the world." It provides the opportunity for a young conductor to plan, rehearse and conduct an entire orchestra season. Applications are by invitation only.
John Lennon Scholarships - Three scholarships with prizes totaling $20,000 are awarded for the best original songs by U.S. college students between the ages of 17 and 24. Application instructions can be found here.
Nashville Songwriting Scholarship - This $5,000 scholarship is awarded for the best original song by a U.S. college student between the ages of 17 and 24. The competition is open to student songwriters of country music and related genres, defined as "Americana, blues, bluegrass, contemporary Christian, folk, and roots." Application instructions can be found here.
peermusic Latin Scholarship - These are $5,000 scholarships, awarded for the best song or instrumental work in any Latin genre to songwriters and composers who are current students at colleges and universities located in the U.S. and Puerto Rico between the ages of 17 and 24 at time of submission. Application instructions can be found here.
Pete Carpenter Fellowship - This fellowship provides a $3,000 stipend for four to five weeks of in-studio mentorship with established composers in Los Angeles for aspiring film, television and video game composers. Fellows must be between the ages of 21 and 35 and pursuing a career in TV, film or video game composition. Currently there is waitlist for the program.
Theodora Zavin Scholarship - This $2,000 scholarship is given each year to a graduating senior musician at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts in New York, and recognizes "outstanding achievement in composition." Applications are by invitation only.
Woody Guthrie Fellowship Program - These fellowships are awards up to $5,000 to support scholarly research at the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, OK. One fellowship is given each year for work on a "research topic or theme directly related to Guthrie’s life, work, or contribution to American music and world culture." Application instructions can be found here.
- Deirdre Chadwick, President
- David F. Bills, Executive Vice President
- Porfirio Piña, Senior Vice President