The Goss-Gershwin Challenge 2020:
Gershwin's Three Preludes for Piano

You are invited to join us in our latest composer community challenge: the great Goss-Gershwin Challenge of 2020!

As in years past, our special guest Thomas Goss will join us to listen and give constructive feedback to the composers who submit an entry. You may choose either of two excerpts from Gershwin's Three Preludes for Piano, which we'll supply below, and you're free to orchestrate one of the clips in any way you like.

The Goss-Gershwin Challenge is open to any composer who plans to attend our March 14, 2020 event in Los Angeles.


How to Participate

Submit your score and MP3 by March 8 and we will put it in the queue for our special event on March 14, 2020, which will feature the internationally renowned composer, orchestrator, and teacher Thomas Goss, who will join us in listening to and critiquing the submissions. We will do our best to evaluate all orchestrations submitted by this date by composers who are attending in person. We typically have time for the first ten submissions.

There is no fee to enter and no prize to win. This is a chance to enjoy the Scoring Arts community, get valuable critique on your own work, and to sharpen your skills as a composer and orchestrator. So get orchestrating!

For more frequently asked questions, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Composer and orchestrator Thomas Goss


Buy tickets by following the link to the right. Members of the ASA are eligible for discounted or free admission. The event will take place at Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City, CA, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The ticket also includes both coffee/pastries before the event, and a buffet pizza/pasta lunch afterwards.

Make sure to join the ASA in order to receive updated information on this and other events hosted by the Academy of Scoring Arts.


You may take your pick of either the first prelude (bars 1-14), or the third prelude (bars 1-16). Please choose one or the other, not both. Here are streaming and downloadable resources to help you.

Here's a score and recording of the 1st Prelude, with a historical recording played by Gershwin himself:

Here's a score and recording of the 3rd Prelude, with a historical recording played by Gershwin himself:

About Thomas Goss

Thomas Goss is a professional composer and orchestrator with an international roster of clients. He has worked with such talents as Billy Ocean, Melanie C, Sharon Corr, and Nikki Yanofsky. His compositions, orchestrations, and crossover arrangements have been performed by such ensembles as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Chamber Ensemble.

Thomas is also a pioneer in the field of orchestral education programs. In his adopted country of New Zealand, every full-time orchestra from Christchurch Symphony to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has performed his educational programming. His piece for narrator and orchestra, “Tane and the Kiwi,” was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia in 2002, and has been performed many times across New Zealand since then. Thomas has also composed two legends for orchestra based on Maori sources: “Maui’s Fishhook” and “Battle of the Mountains,” both commissioned and premiered by the Vector Wellington Orchestra.

In Thomas’s current role as Education Composer-in-residence for Vector Wellington Orchestra, he has composed and presented a yearly series of orchestra discovery programs for young listeners ages 2 to 6, called “Baby Pops.” Now in its 7th year, this ongoing series has introduced tens of thousands of children in New Zealand’s Lower North Island region to orchestral instruments and music through song, story-telling, and active participation.

Thomas Goss is also a strong supporter of orchestras on the community and youth level. He served for six years as composer in residence for the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, composing numerous concertos and string orchestra works, featuring some of the best players from the ranks as soloists. These works continue to be programmed, such as Thomas’s Double Bass concerto, which was the repertoire of bassist Louis Van Der Mespel’s prize winning showing at the 2012 Wellington Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition. Thomas has also worked with numerous other non-professional groups, like the American Philharmonic Cotati, who commissioned and premiered his “Phoenix Concerto” with erhu (Chinese violin) virtuoso Xiaofeng Zheng in 2005.

Thomas is also in demand as a writer on music, having contributed interviews, articles, and reviews to such journals as 20th/21st Century Music, San Francisco Classical Voice, and New Zealand Musician Magazine. He is a regular on-air presenter with Radio New Zealand Concert’s many programs such as Appointment, The Critic’s Chair, and Composer of the Week.

Thomas Goss has been using notation software since it was first developed for the personal computer in the 1980’s, and became a Sibelius user from its first version in the year 2000. He has scored over 20 hours of professionally performed orchestral music using Sibelius, and many more chamber pieces and piano works. His YouTube channel, Orchestration Online, features a detailed review of the latest version of Sibelius, along with advice on orchestration, score-reading, and many other topics for the composer-in-training.

Thomas lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife Erica and son Charlie, and one very unappreciative cat.

Composer and orchestrator Thomas Goss

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I do this?

Choose either bars 1-14 of the first prelude, or bars 1-16 of the third prelude (MIDI file and PDF score available above) and orchestrate it for any ensemble you want. For presentation purposes, we’ll need you to send us an MP3 recording of it (MIDI mockups are fine), and we’d also love to get a copy of your notation in PDF format and Dorico/MusicXML format if available. If you’re not an expert copyist, that’s OK. We’re not judging you on your notation skills. But it is helpful for us to see how you orchestrated it.

What instruments or type of ensemble may I orchestrate for, and what approach should I take?

We have provided a suggested orchestral ensemble above in the template file. (Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, tuba, 1 percussion, harp, and strings.) You may add to or subtract from it if you have orchestration ideas that differ from this ensemble. Feel free to be imaginative!

Adapting a piano work for larger ensemble is a process for which there are many different approaches and few rules or guidelines. You do not have to use every note that Gershwin wrote. You may also interpret or adapt some of his piano techniques in ways that you think would be appropriate for the ensemble's instruments. In other words, you can add notes that he didn't write, however, keep in mind our goal in this is to exercise our orchestration skills, not to re-compose.

What if my sample libraries aren’t very good?

That’s fine. We won’t judge you on the realism of your MP3. Do the best you can with what you have.

What if I don’t have a notation program like Dorico?

You can work in any notation program you like.

We’re not judging you on the quality of your notation. If you’re able to generate some kind of notated score, it’s very helpful for us to visually see how you orchestrated the score. Submissions without any score will still be considered, but prioritized lower than the others. Our orchestral template file (included in the download above) is prepared in landscape format, which is the most helpful format for us to project on the big screen.

Can I record a live ensemble?

Sure! On your own dime, though.

Will I get a personal critique?

We’re going to do our best to try and play every submission and critique it at our March 14 event. If we get too many submissions, we may not be able to play all of them. Preference will be given to the first submissions received, and to the composers who are there in person. We normally get to about ten submissions.

What if I’m not in Los Angeles and/or not able to attend on March 14?

Unfortunately, for this particular Challenge, we can’t accept your submission. But feel free to work on it anyway for your own education! Also, you could post it to various orchestration forums around the internet to get some feedback.

What if I still have questions?

Use our Contact page to ask us, and we’ll help you out.