orchestraThe American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2019-20

This contest is for INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS.
For CHAMBER ENSEMBLES, please click "Chamber Ensembles" in the Competition menu, above.

REVISED Preliminary DEADLINE for postmark or emailing of application(s): Wednesday, May 1, 2019.
Automatic extensions to Monday, June 3, 2019 for those who need more time and request it in advance of the June date by emailing

The American Prize in Instrumental Performance recognizes and rewards the best performances by INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS in America in 2019-20, based on submitted applications.


2017-18 winners:

Professional Division—Sean Osborn, clarinet, Shoreline WA

College/University Division—Micheal Barnes, percussion, Cincinnati, OH

High School Division—Ryan Har, cello, Palo Alto, CA


To see earlier winners of the INSTRUMENTAL SOLOIST competition, first offered in 2016,
please click: 2016 Instrumental soloists.



NOW—you have the option to pay application fees online—or by credit card or check.

NOW—you have the option to provide links to your audition selections—or send recordings by mail.

NOW—you have the option to fill out the application on your computer and email it directly to the office—or fill-in by hand and send by mail.


PRELIMINARY DEADLINE (revised) to email and/or postmark applications: Wednesday, May 1, 2019


The American Prize is more than monetary. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners are announced to national arts media and on our websites, where winners are profiled. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners earn the right to use The American Prize logo and official seal on printed programs and other documents, and on the web.

SEMI-FINALISTS: All semi-finalists receive official certificates.

FINALISTS & RUNNERS-UP: All finalists and runners-up receive certificates and written, unbiased evaluations from our distinguished national panel of judges. When winners are announced on The American Prize blog, RUNNERS-UP are also profiled on the blog with their photos, biographies and website links.

WINNERS: A single winner in each category and/or division is selected. Winners receive certificates, written evaluations, personalized press releases sent by us to local media and other contacts you provide as part of your application, and cash prizes up to $500, depending on the year, the category and the number of entrants.
Only with your explicit permission, excerpts of winning performances may be posted to The American Prize channel on .

The judges reserve the right to award citations and honorable mentions as warranted, and to combine categories when necessary. The decision of the judges is final.

The American Prize in Instrumental Performance is offered in as many as four categories, based on age, education and experience. Applications on behalf of instrumental soloists may be made by the soloist, a coach, teacher, manager or other person so authorized, or, in the case of students, by a parent. Only one application per soloist per instrument per year may be submitted.

The four categories for participation are:
   1. professional (the musician has paid employment as a performer, but not necesarily as a soloist)
    2. college/university—(the artist is seriously pursuing a professional music career)
    3. amateur/community (the artist pursues music as a avocation)
    4. gifted high-school-age instrumentalist

On the application form, select the one which best matches your current situation.

The Instrumental Soloist category is open without restriction to any classically trained solo instrumentalist, including guitarists, organists, percussionists and all "orchestral" instrumentalists, excepting vocalists or pianists. The American Prize offers separate competitions for those individuals. (See "Competitions" in the menu bar, above.)


The competitions of The American Prize are open to all U.S. citizens, whether living in this country or abroad, and to others currently living, working and/or studying in the United States of America, its protectorates and territories. The American Prize does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, spiritual or personal belief, disability, sexual preference or gender identification. All application fees must be remitted in U.S. funds.


Every applicant must send certain required information by email.

Applicants can then complete their application either of two ways:


A. ONLINE ONLY: pay fees online, submit the downloaded application as a PDF file, along with the required emailed information (see application form), and include links to your online audition selections. (Application forms for The American Prize can be filled out on computer, saved and emailed by using Adobe Reader 11. Download it free here.)

B. BY MAIL & EMAIL: mail the completed, downloaded application form and send audition selections on disc or tape to the office, and email the required information (see application form), pay fees online, or by check, by money order or credit card.


    1. Download the application form for The American Prize in Instrumental Performance. Select the category which best identifies the applicant.
    2. MAIL the completed application form by the deadline date or EMAIL it as a PDF attachment with your required email.

    3. If providing audition selections ONLINE, include the links to them in your required email (see application form.)

    4. If providing audition selections BY MAIL, include two identical recordings of the applicant in performance, with the selections clearly indicated on both the recording itself and on the recording's cover or box. Be sure it lists applicant's name.
    5. Be sure to sign the form and pay the application fee. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), or use this link: "Pay competition fees", or send check, money order or credit card information by mail.
    6. Be sure to email the required information (see application form.)

The application fee is $45 for INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above) or use this iink: "Pay competition fees" pay by credit card, or make checks payable to HCMT/The American Prize (see application form.) Application fees are nonrefundable. No incomplete applications will be accepted. When paying online, BE SURE to identify the applicant with the payment.


The American Prize in Instrumental Performance

You need not prepare a special tape for The American Prize. A previous recording, whether of a concert made in front of an audience or one created in a recording session without an audience, is perfectly acceptable. Neither the location nor the repertoire of any qualified individual limits eligibility, provided the general guidelines listed below have been met. Excellence within categories is the primary criteria for the selection of finalists and winners.

1. MAIL recordings of, or email ONLINE links to, no more than twenty minutes of music, selected from a recent performance or performances (made within the last five years.) There are absolutely no requirements concerning repertoire, although some contrast in mood, period or style is always helpful for the judges. No jazz, improvization or pop music, please. There are no other restrictions. Unaccompanied selections are acceptable only if they required no accompaniment originally.


2. If sending recordings BY MAIL, performer and works must be clearly identified on the discs and covers or video boxes. We prefer DVD or VHS video of the applicant, but will accept CD audio recordings. No cassette tapes.


3. If submitting ONLINE links, include them in your required email. Be sure to identify the links by title of the selection and provide any passwords necessary, so judges can easily access your audition. Links must remain active until results in the category are officially announced. PLEASE NOTE: The responsibility for the viability of links rests with the contestant. Please double-check that they work correctly.


4. There are no other restrictions. No materials will be returned.


SEND required email to: theamericanprize@gmail.com

GENERAL TIMELINE for this competition:
Final deadline for postmark or emailing applications, with extensions available by emailed request: Monday, June 3, 2019. Applications will be acknowledged by email.


In general, the entire competition process is completed in several months. Semi-finalists are announced in the fall, finalists in the winter, followed by winners—after which all certificates, evaluations and prizes are mailed. Specific dates for the announcement of each stage of the competition are posted in regular updates to the competition's blog and facebook pages. Find those links on the homepage of this website.


The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts are administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc. (HCMT), the 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Danbury, CT.