zFestival Summer 2021

June 30th – August 1st

zFestival is a month long summer festival for musicians and artists to collaborate on new compositions in small groups. Throughout the month of July there will be a series of guest artist talks to inspire creation, coaching opportunities with professional artists, social events and performance opportunities, all culminating in a two-day Gala to display the new works created over the course of the festival. Since the final products for each ensemble will be of audiovisual or multidisciplinary nature, we welcome artists of all disciplines to apply and contribute to the creation of these new works.


We are expanding this year’s festival to include three different tracks. These tracks will specify the type of project and ensemble you are sorted into. One track will be very similar to last year (traditional audio recording with visuals), one will be more multidisciplinary, and one track is dedicated to new composers and solo performances! Read more below to find out what track might be best for you.

Traditional Track

This track is almost the exact same as what we did last summer. It involves matching a traditional ensemble of instrumentalists and vocalists (may be a standard grouping or not) with a composer and an audio engineer. Similar to other music festivals, we ask the composer to write a piece prior to the start of the festival, with a bit of time during the first week to finalize the score. It is then up to the group to meet as an ensemble virtually, and collaborate with each other, including the composer and audio engineer, to reach a final recording of the piece.

A few notes about this track:

  1. Each composer will have to deliver a score for their piece by the end of the first week of the festival (with a draft due two weeks prior). This score can be in staff notation, graphic notation, text-based or really any form you would like, but there has to be a physical document that can be circulated as the score.
  2. Each new piece will be compiled in an audiovisual format, which means there will have to be a visual component to your piece. There are two ways that this can happen. The first, like last year, involves the group collectively coming up with the visuals for the piece to match the audio. This can be as simple as making a score video, but can be as creative as you’d like. Alternatively, the group can be assigned a visual artist or artists conceive the visual aspect of the piece. As such, we encourage filmmakers, dancers, painters, etc. to apply to this track.
  3. This year, we are planning on having the composers be the point person for your ensembles. Point people will serve as the liaison between your ensemble and the administration. You will be responsible for organizing rehearsals, following through on deadlines and attending weekly point people meetings to check-in with us.

Multidisciplinary Track

This track is very similar to our fall program, zFestival unAcademy. In this program we eschewed role definitions and formed small groups of artists who were allowed to define their own role. While this was very successful, we would like to streamline the process for our summer program. As a result, for this track you will have the opportunity to work with artists on a level playing field, where everyone has say in the artistic vision, from conception through composition to recording and presentation. This ensemble will work collaboratively to develop the audio and video concepts for their piece, and will see these concepts through to realization.

The process for this track will likely look more like a series of workshops and discussions, instead of more formal rehearsals. We are not requiring any score to be submitted prior to the start of the festival. All you have to do is show up and collaborate with your team. The idea is that every person involved can offer areas of expertise and collaborate with others to learn how to expand their artistic toolkit. If you traditionally identify as a saxophone player, this can be a chance for you to help devise the compositional ideas alongside someone who identifies as a composer. If you traditionally identifying as a painter, you may collaborate with a filmmaker to make your painting turn into animation. If you are a dancer, you can learn to film yourself; an engineer can learn to video edit. This track emphasizes skill sharing and promotes the process over the finished product.

A few notes on this track:

  1. In lieu of a score, we will schedule two meetings with your group throughout the festival to hear your plans for your audio and video concepts. The first meeting will be at the end of the first week and is to make sure you have a direction. The second meeting will be at the end of the second week; at this point, your concepts should be solidified and tasks should be assigned for the remaining two weeks to bring the project to completion.
  2. Since there are no designated roles in this track, we will need to assign a point person to check in with us regularly along with the other groups. These meetings will be briefer than the concept meetings. More important is that the point person will be responsible for scheduling meetings with your group and meeting deadlines.

New Composer Track

This is a completely new track for us at zFest, but it is very much in line with our philosophy on music and education. We want people to be supported to expand their artistic toolkit while at our programs, but we understand that people might not feel ready to participate in the Multidisciplinary track. As a result, we are opening this new track for anyone who would like to try traditional composition in an isolated setting.

For this track, a new composer will be matched with an instrumentalist or vocalist who is interested in workshopping and performing a solo piece throughout the time of the festival. The new composer will work closely with our composition coaches and the performer to write a short piece that is idiomatic for the performer.

For Composers: We think that this track will be great for performers, engineers and other artists who are doing another track simultaneously and want to take a try at composition. We will provide as much or as little support to the new composer throughout the process as they want. We anticipate some people to come into this track ready to write their first (or second or third) composition. Others might need to meet with our coach more frequently before feeling ready. All in all, wherever you are at in your compositional journey, we will be able to provide support to you.

For Performers: This track will give you the opportunity to have a new piece written just for you and practice talking about your instrument to someone who might not know it as well. This is a chance to be the expert on your instrument and to help make more solo repertoire for it. No matter your experience in making new music we encourage performers to apply to this track!

We are accepting both composers and performers into this track, and they will work closely throughout the festival.

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