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2022 Gilgamesh International Composition Competition

We are pleased to announce the results of the 2022 International Gilgamesh Composition Competition! Our esteemed jury of Oscar Bettison, Saad Haddad, and Nina Shekhar, recently gathered to review the submissions and make their selections. Everyone was impressed with the strength and stylistic diversity of the submissions and we are very happy to be able to share the work of the winning composers with you. The winners and honorable mentions listed below will all receive recordings of their compositions, which will be shared online at a later date.


Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the composers who applied.

1st Place, $1,000 – Mortal, Mehrnoosh Zolfaghari

2nd Place, $500 – Plunge, Zachary Gulaboff Davis

3rd Place $250 – Epope, Akın Kilis

Honorable Mentions:

The Dreams of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Thomas Crawley

wedge, Ryan Carraher and Jay Rauch

Enkidu metamorphosis, Aurés Moussong

Inhalation Space, Bracha Bdil,

My Loathed, Shayaan Sepehrmand

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Mehrnoosh Zolfaghari

1st Place

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Zachary Gulaboff Davis

2nd Place




3rd Place


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Honiball Joseph is a composer-performer, with more than 30 years of extensive international experience in music and art. He graduated from Tehran Music Conservatory and Tehran Azad Art University. He is the founder and current CEO of Gilgamesh Art & Culture Foundation and the visionary behind the Gilgamesh Composition Competition. Honiball is passionate about helping high quality art become more accessible to the community.

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Sean Friar is a composer and pianist whose music has been called "refreshingly new and solidly mature… and doesn’t take on airs, but instead takes joy in the process of discovery ... that good classical music has always championed"(Slate Magazine). A winner of the Rome Prize, he has received commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Modern, and many others.

Gilgamesh Trio

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DR. JONATHAN STEHNEY'S expertise ranges from performing Baroque music on period instruments to performing the most challenging contemporary and experimental music. He has traveled widely performing new works for bassoon and contrabassoon. Dr. Stehney has worked with such notable composers as Sofia Gubaidulina, Pierre Boulez, Péter Eötvös, Olga Neuwirth, James Tenney, Mark Menzies, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and others. He has studied extensively with Pascal Gallois, Paul Riveaux, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

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Dustin Donahue is a percussionist based in Los Angeles. He frequently performs with the International Contemporary Ensemble and collaborates with many of southern California’s presenters of chamber music, such as WasteLAnd, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, the Ojai Music Festival, Monday Evening Concerts, Jacaranda Music, and San Diego New Music. He appears on releases for Mode, Naxos, New Focus, Stradivarius, and Populist Records. As a soloist, Dustin has been featured at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Carlsbad Music Festival, the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington, D.C., and Mengi in Reykjavik, Iceland. As an advocate for contemporary music.

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Described as a “modern renaissance man,” (Over the Mountain Journal) Grammy® nominated pianist Aron Kallay‘s playing has been called “exquisite…every sound sounded considered, alive, worthy of our wonder” (LA Times).  “Perhaps Los Angeles’ most versatile keyboardist,” (LaOpus) Aron has been praised as possessing “that special blend of intellect, emotion, and overt physicality that makes even the thorniest scores simply leap from the page into the listener's laps.” (KPFK) Aron’s performances often integrate technology, video, and alternate tunings; Fanfare magazine described him as “a multiple threat: a great pianist, brainy tech wizard, and visionary promoter of a new musical practice.”

Meet The Team


Oscar Bettison is a British/American composer who has worked extensively with orchestras and ensembles both in the US and in Europe. He currently serves as the Chair of Composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.


Nina Shekhar explores the intersection of identity, vulnerability, love, and laughter to create bold and intensely personal works. Her upcoming projects include performances with the New York Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, and New World Symphony, and she is currently serving as Composer-in-Residence of Young Concert Artists.



Saad Haddad is a composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electroacoustic music who achieves a “remarkable fusion of idioms” (New York Times), most notably in his work exploring the disparate qualities inherent in Western art music and Middle Eastern musical tradition.

About Competition

For this year’s competition, Gilgamesh Trio, comprised of some of Los Angeles' leading interpreters of contemporary music, is in residence and we are accepting scores for bassoon, percussion, and synthesizer.  Please see below for information about Gilgamesh Trio and the specifications for their setups. Winning composers will receive a cash prize and/or a recording of their work by Gilgamesh Trio.


  • Eligibility – All composers regardless of age, nationality, and professional level are eligible.

  • Work history – Works need not be premieres or composed specifically for this competition. If selected for performance, the composer must make the score and parts available to the competition organizers free of charge.

  • Instrumentation – Scores should be composed for any combination of bassoon, percussion, and synthesizer. Scores of all styles and aesthetic inclinations are encouraged. Please contact us with any specific inquiries about the instrumentation.

  • Duration – 5 minutes maximum; multi-movement works and excerpts of larger works accepted.

  • Entry fee – A non-refundable entry fee of fifteen US dollars (15.00 USD) is to be paid online at the time of submission via PayPal. Please contact us if you don't have access to PayPal.*

    Number of submissions – Unlimited entries are allowed; each must be submitted separately with the entry fee.

  • Anonymous submission – The composer's name and any other identifying information must not appear on the score or in any accompanying materials submitted online.

  • Judges – Judges – This year's esteemed judges are Oscar Bettison, Saad Haddad, and Nina Shekhar. Last year’s judges were Du Yun, Thomas Kotcheff, and Arshia Samsaminia.


The Epic of Gilgamesh, regarded as the earliest surviving work of notable literature, is an ancient Mesopotamian epic with themes as relevant today as when it was written. It begins with five Sumerian poems about Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC). Gilgamesh became the quintessential hero of the ancient world, exerting substantial influence on Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, among others. Gilgamesh was an “adventurous, brave, but tragic figure symbolizing man's vain but endless drive for fame, glory, and immortality.” In the spirit of this, the competition is looking for chamber music that is in some way inspired by the story, elements or themes of Gilgamesh and Assyrian culture.

Submission Requirements

  • Score format – Anonymous PDF. Please be sure to remove all identifying information.

  • Audio file (preferred, but not required) – Live recording or MIDI mockup in mp3 format.

  • Biography – PDF of a current bio (two pages maximum).

  • Photo – at least one photo in landscape format.

  • Deadline: Monday, February 28, 2022, 11:59pm PST.



  • 1st Place: $1,000 and recording of composition by Gilgamesh Trio.

  • 2nd Place: $500 and recording of composition Gilgamesh Trio.

  • 3rd Place: $250 and recording of composition Gilgamesh Trio.

  • Honorable Mentions: in addition to the above awards, several more pieces will be selected for recording by Gilgamesh Trio, such that a total of approximately 45 minutes of music will be recorded.

Writing for Gilgamesh Trio

Bassoon: Jon Stehney has prepared a document about extended techniques and their notation. You may download it HERE

Percussion: Vibraphone, assorted cymbals, 4 toms, and any small instruments that can easily fit on a trap table (e.g., woodblock, triangle, glass bottle, etc.). We can also include frame drum from various traditions (tar, bendir, daf). If you have another percussion need, please contact us and we may be able to accommodate you.

Synthesizer: A digital piano will be connected to a Macbook Pro with Kontakt, Digital Performer, Max/MSP, MainStage, and Logic, plus many additional plugins. Composers can either submit a Max/Kontakt/Logic/MainStage patch or simply describe the sound that they want and Aron will work with you to get it right. If you have another hardware or software need, please contact us and we may be able to accommodate your request.

Important Dates

  • Competition opens: Monday, September 27, 2021

  • Submissions due: Monday, Feb 28, 2022, 11:59pm PST.

  • Announcement of winners: on or before Monday, April 25, 2022.

  • Performance Presentation & Final Prize Announcement: Spring/early Summer 2022

​Additional Documents


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