Young Composers Competition

Now Accepting Submissions for the 2020 Young Composers Competition

The Capital Hearings’ seventh annual Young Composers Competition invites submissions on this year’s theme (see below). The winning submission will be premiered at the ensemble’s Fall 2020 concert, or later if delayed by COVID-19.

Submissions should be thematically related to the occasion of The Capital Hearings’ 10th anniversary in 2020. This may include themes regarding anniversaries and celebrations, but could also involve more metaphorical interpretations regarding milestones, the passage of time, traditions, belonging, growth, change, etc. It could also connect to anniversaries of historical events that fall in 2020.

We welcome composers from all backgrounds. We especially encourage entries from composers who identify as belonging to an underrepresented group, although submissions will be considered anonymously. Submissions are due July 12, 2020.


  • Open to U.S. and Canadian composers ages 18-40. The Capital Hearings, family members, those with close professional relationships (e.g., teacher/student), and previous winners are not eligible.
  • Entries must be scored for unaccompanied mixed choir, suitable for performance by 12-14 voices, either with or without divisi. Entries must be between two and five minutes in length.
  • Any style or genre of music is permitted (e.g., works need not be “classical”). Jazz, pop, rock, world, crossover works, etc., are all welcome.
  • Works must be original compositions (not arrangements), except that limited excerpting for artistic reasons is allowed.
  • Works must not have received a premiere, and must be unpublished. Exception – self-published, unsold works that are withdrawn from sale during the competition (see rules).
  • All texts must be cleared for performance and commercial recording, and evidence of copyright holder’s permission must be shown. For further guidance, see here. (Note: works from before 1925 are now usually in the public domain.)


  • $1,000 cash award. We will also provide the winner with an archival recording of the premiere or an early performance.
  • The winner will be announced in August 2020. All entrants will be notified by email, and the winner will also be announced on our website.
  • The Capital Hearings will have a two-year exclusive right to make the first commercial recording, with standard royalty rates paid to the composer. Any future publication of the score must reference that the work was a prize-winner in this competition.

Submission Guidelines

  • Only one work per composer will be accepted.
  • The competition will be judged anonymously. A committee will identify finalists, and the full ensemble will select the winner.
  • Entrants must submit an online application form, full score, audio realization (MIDI, MP3, etc.), standalone version of the underlying text (if not included in the score), and translation (if not in English).
  • Prospective entrants should read the complete 2020 Rules for full details.

Cooper Baldwin
Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor
Premiered Sept. 28, 2019
Theme: Power Plays

Keane Southard
In this short Life
Premiered Sept. 15, 2018
Theme: Reality and Illusion

Rachel DeVore Fogarty
It Sifts From Leaden Sieves
Premiered Dec. 10, 2017
Theme: Holiday

Charles Perryman
Premiered Sept. 24, 2016
Theme: Politics and Political Capital
Press Release

William Yanesh
The Astronomer
Premiered Oct. 10, 2015
Theme: Technology and Innovation
Press Release

Connor J. Koppin
There Will Come Soft Rains
Premiered Sept. 27, 2014
Theme: Seasons
Press Release