Young Composers Competition

Thanks to those who entered our 2021 competition! Details on the 2022 competition will be available in the spring. For your reference, a summary of the 2021 rules is below.


  • 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 non-academic premiere (see rules). Works must be unpublished, except self-published unsold works withdrawn from sale during the competition (see rules).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 but note that works from before 1926 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 2021. 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).

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