BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop Accepting Applications From Aspiring Composers and Lyricists

By Michael Gioia
July 21, 2012

The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop will begin another season in September, when a first-year group of aspiring composers, lyricists and librettists gather to hone their craft. BMI will be accepting applications for up-and-coming songwriters for admission into the program through Aug. 1.



Applications will be screened prior to the workshop's audition process. Composers are required to submit three contrasting compositions on CD; lyricists should submit three contrasting lyrics; and composer-lyricists should submit three contrasting songs on CD. All should include an up-tempo, comedy song and a ballad with a short introductory set-up for each song or lyric.

If invited to audition, composers must be prepared to perform at least two contrasting theatrical compositions, and lyricists are expected to have copies available and to recite samples of their theatrical lyrics.

During the first year of the program, songwriters explore the basics of writing for musical theatre through a series of assignments, which culminates in the creation of a 10-minute musical. Patrick Cook and Frederick Freyer moderate the class.

The second year concentrates on the creation of a complete full-length musical, emphasizing the relationship of the libretto, or book, to the score. At the conclusion of the second year, participants present excerpts from their musicals in progress. The year is moderated by Cook, Freyer and David Spencer.

A limited number of writers from the second-year group are invited into the advanced workshop, which combines members who have come up through the ranks as well as seasoned professionals presenting work from ongoing musicals. Moderators include Lynn Ahrens, Jack Lechner, Richard Maltby, Andy Monroe and Maury Yeston.

The program is operated by the performance-rights organization BMI and is free of charge to participants. The workshop meets one afternoon a week for two hours under the guidance of distinguished writers and directors.

In 1961, BMI joined forces with the late Lehman Engel, dean of American musical theatre conductors, to create a setting in which new writers for the musical theatre could learn their craft. An innovative program at its inception, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop continues to flourish in its 50th year, and is considered to be one of the major training grounds for new theatre-music writers, nurturing shows like A Chorus Line, Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, Once On This Island, Ragtime, Avenue Q, Next To Normal, The Book of Mormon and Newsies. The workshop received a special Tony Award in 2007 and the Drama League and Drama Desk Awards in 2006.

For more information on how to apply, click here.