The Wellington Jazz Festival, an annual five-day festival of jazz music in Wellington, is commissioning four new jazz works by New Zealand composers to celebrate Aotearoa-New Zealand musicians at a reshaped event taking place from 1822 November. The impact of Covid-19 on international touring means this series of World Premiere commissions is at the heart of the 2020 Wellington Jazz Festival programme, a true celebration of the sounds and talents of Aotearoa.

We held a Zoom info session about the commissioning process, Tuesday 16 June - the video of this session is now available here on YouTube.

There Are Four Commissions Available:

  • 2 x commissions of $10,000 for compositions between 1-5 instruments.
  • 2 x commissions of $12,500 for compositions between 6-9 instruments.
  • At least one commission will be awarded to a Māori composer.
  • Instruments may include voice.
  • Successful applicants will be selected by composer/educator Tom Rainey, composer Jasmine Lovell-Smith, musician/composer Warren Maxwell and Tāwhiri and Wellington Jazz Festival Creative Director, Marnie Karmelita.

You are not required to submit the composition when applying. If your application is successful the final composition is due 28 September.

Entry Criteria:

  • The compositions should feature improvisation. Hybrid genres and experimentation across form and instrumentation are encouraged.
  • Compositions must be new original material and may be one full work or multiple shorter works.
  • Each commission should be between 15 - 20 minutes. We note that lengths may vary in performance due to improvisation.
  • Composers may write for specific New Zealand-based musicians and the Wellington Jazz Festival will endeavour to secure them (subject to availability, budget, government restrictions).
  • Composers may compose for themselves or ensembles they perform in.
  • Composers must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents who are New Zealand-based and currently living in the country. The composer must be present in Wellington at the premiere of the work (scheduled for 1822 November 2020).
  • Compositions may be collaborative. The lead composer must be currently living in New Zealand. All collaborators to be paid from the awarded commission fee.
  • The composer must cover reasonable costs of music score (copying and printing etc.)

Submissions closed Friday 3 July 2020, 5pm. Any submissions received after this date will not be considered.


Submissions open: Thursday 4 June 2020
Zoom info session: Tuesday 16 June, 1pm - the video is here on YouTube.
Submissions close: Friday 3 July, 5pm
Successful applicants notified: Monday 20 July
Successful Composers will submit the final score for their composition to Wellington Jazz Festival by: Monday 28 September
2020 Wellington Jazz Festival live performance: between 1822 November

Any other questions? Please contact us at