Lucerne Festival - call for commissions

Chris Joseph

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Call for Commissions: Lucerne Festival Forward 2022

The Lucerne Festival is pleased to announce an international Call for Commissions as part of the second annual Forward Festival, which will take place on 18-20 November, 2022. The call will select a total of 4 short new chamber works: two to be performed on 19 November, 2022 and two to be performed on 20 November, 2022 by members of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) in the Concert Hall of the Culture and Convention Center Lucerne (KKL).

The program on the 19th November centers on Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, which will be performed by the LFCO with Patricia Kopatchinskaja; the program on 20 November features Unsuk Chin’s Gougalōn and a new collaborative work with Lucerne community members created by Urban Mäder, Peter Allamand, Pia Matthes, and Nora Vetter. In each case, the newly commissioned works will serve as short intermezzi between movements of the central work of the program (more details below).

The Forward Festival re-imagines how contemporary music can be brought into contact with audience members, from the process of curation to the final presentation. In 2022, we continue our commitment to commissioning and premiering new work as part of the festival, this time woven into and responding to the surrounding programs.

We encourage composers of any age, nationality and aesthetic orientation to apply. Selected composers will receive a commission fee of CHF 2.500.– gross, which is inclusive of the hiring fee for material. We will also provide selected composers with travel and accommodations to attend the Lucerne Festival Forward from 18-20 November, 2022. Composers who are not available to attend the festival may still apply.

Saturday, 19 November:
Our program is titled “In Search of Ligeti’s Lost Melody,” and it traces the melody from the second movement of the Violin Concerto, “Aria, Hoquetus, Choral”, as it appears in the Musica Ricercata, the Six Bagatelles for woodwind quintet, and the Horn Trio. This melody is also brought into the context of ancient music (for example, hocket techniques in Machaut) and newly created music (by two composers from the Lucerne Festival Academy Network, Anton Koshlev and Alessandro Battici, and two works commissioned through this call).

We seek two newly commissioned works to be placed between movements of the Ligeti concerto. These works should respond to Ligeti’s “lost melody” in some form, which is left open to the composer.

Sunday, 20 November:
The concluding program of our festival develops themes present in Unsuk Chin’s Gougalōn: Scenes from a Street Theatre to create a concert that combines traditional concert music with more theatrical and experimental performances.  According to Chin, Gougalōn is about “imaginary folk music” and the title “derives from Old High German … [with] the following meanings: to hoodwink; to make ridiculous movements; to fool someone by means of feigned magic; to practice fortune-telling.”  The individual movements each represent scenes from a street theater troupe, and they will be interspersed by chamber works that respond to this concept musically, performatively, and aesthetically.

We seek two newly commissioned chamber works that will fill this role within the program. These can (but are not obligated to) involve theatrical elements and musicians performing without their instruments. Spatialization in the hall is possible, so long as it can be realized within one short dress rehearsal in the space.

The submission deadline is 20 June 2022, at 23:59 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2). A jury consisting of members of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Leaders will select a total of four composers who will be commissioned to create new works for the ensemble.

Applications will be reviewed based on the quality of previous works submitted, the clarity and feasibility of the proposed new work, and the possibilities of integrating the proposed work into a cohesive program in Lucerne. The panel encourages applications from composers whose national, ethnic, and gender identities have been traditionally underrepresented at European art music festivals.

The new commissioned work should be scored for the following individual instruments. Use of auxiliary instruments or performance without instruments is possible, but the personnel for each ensemble is fixed. For the Ligeti program, the following auxiliary instruments are also available for use in the commission (not obligatory): treble recorder (flute), sopranino ocarina in high F (clarinet), and soprano ocarina in C (bassoon), lotus flute (percussion).

Ligeti Program Chin Program
Flute Flute
Clarinet Clarinet
Bassoon Tuba
Horn Piano
Piano Percussion
Percussion Violin
Violin* Viola
Viola Violoncello

*The violin part in the commissioned works will be played by a member of the LFCO, not Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

Theatrical / visual components, improvisatory elements, graphic scores as well as open / variable instrumentation are possible.

The work should last approximately 4 minutes.

The work should be conceived to be ready for performance with three 30-minute rehearsals and one 20-minute dress rehearsal in the hall (the hall will not be available for rehearsals before the day of the concert).

Electronics: the Forward Festival is able to provide stereo playback using two speakers placed on the stage of the KKL. Live electronics and more complex technical setups are not possible due to limited rehearsal time in the hall.

Works should be performable without a conductor wherever possible, although one is available on request.

Existing compositions are not eligible, as this Call looks for works conceived specifically for this space and occasion.

Composers may submit proposals for both concerts if desired. In this case, two separate pages describing each proposed work should be submitted.

25 May:                      call announced
20 June:                     submission deadline
15 July:                       announcement of selected composers
1 October:                  submission of all materials for commissioned pieces
15-20 Nov:                 rehearsal of commissioned pieces
19-20 Nov:                 premiere by Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra


  • CV
  • Recordings and Scores of two previous works
  • Short written proposal – max. 1 page

For any further inquiries, please contact Felix Heri (Director, Lucerne Festival Contemporary) via

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