Young Composers Competition

The Capital Hearings’
2022 Young Composers Competition

Now Accepting Submissions


Light. It plays a fundamental role in civilization, art, science, and life itself. Our evolution depended on our ability to capture it. It is a source of life and a source of destruction. There are entire fields of study devoted to optics, color, photography, and more – all of which exist solely because of the infinitesimal photons bombarding our planet each second. Mirrors, lenses, and prisms may allow us to alter, reflect and redirect it, but Light still retains metaphor-inspiring power. Songs, paintings, sculptures, and many more works of art throughout time use Light as a stand-in for knowledge, understanding, joy, and countless other states and ideas.

In Fall 2022, The Capital Hearings will attempt to harness light itself, by exploring its aspects and nuances through song. From the Light of God to the shattered reflections of a disco ball, we’ll explore this basic building block of our existence from as many perspectives as possible.

This year, our 8th Annual Young Composers Competition is eager to hear your thoughts on how Light interacts with your world. If you feel like you have something to say–or find that something you’ve already written might speak to us–we’d love to hear it!

All U.S. & Canadian residents age 18-40 are welcome to submit a 2-5 minute original composition (arranged for mixed, unaccompanied choir) related to this theme, and we especially welcome submissions from unique or underrepresented perspectives – and in unique or underrepresented styles.

Submissions are due by June 15, 2022, and a prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the winner. All applicants will be notified of the final decision by July 15, 2022.


Submission Guidelines

  • Entries must be scored for unaccompanied mixed choir, suitable for performance by 12-14 voices, either with or without divisi. Entries must be 2-5 minutes in length.
  • Any style or genre of music is permitted (i.e., works need not be “classical”). Jazz, pop, rock, world, crossover works, etc., are all welcome.
  • Works must be entirely original compositions (not arrangements of existing works), except that limited excerpting for artistic reasons is allowed.
  • Works must not have received a public premiere or publicly available recording, and must be unpublished. Exception – self-published, unsold works that are withdrawn from sale during the competition (see rules).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.
  • Open to U.S. and Canadian composers aged 18-40. Previous winners, members of The Capital Hearings, and their families, close friends and colleagues are not eligible.
  • The Capital Hearings retain a two-year “right of first recording” for the winning composition (see Rules for details).
  • Only one composition per submission will be accepted, but multiple submissions are welcome.
  • The competition will be judged anonymously. Finalists will be selected by the music director with input from a committee. The full ensemble will select the winner.
  • Entrants must submit a complete online submission form, including a full score pdf, audio realization (MIDI, MP3, etc.), standalone version of the underlying text (if not included in the score), a translation (if not in English), and any documents needed to prove copyright permission.
  • Questions? Contact for more information.

Nicholas Ryan Kelly
Infinite Horizon
Premiering Oct. 23, 2021
Theme: Rebirth and Renewal

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