orchestraThe American Prize in Composition—Chamber Music, 2017

DEADLINE for postmark or emailing of application(s) is:
Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Extensions available by email request to those who need more time to prepare materials: theamericanprize@gmail.com

NEW in 2017: There are now individual contests for INSTRUMENTAL or VOCAL chamber music, with separate application forms. Any eligible chamber works that include human VOICE in any manner, including songs, should be entered using the VOCAL CHAMBER MUSIC application form.

The American Prize in Composition recognizes and rewards the best composers in America of works for orchestra, chorus, concert band, chamber ensemble or theater that have been publicly performed, or read and recorded. A new, separate category in 2017 for works composers themselves would consider "pops" may be accessed via the orchestra, choral and band music composition contest pages.

Composers may also wish to apply for the ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, being offered in broader categories in 2017 (including chamber music). The deadline for the Bacon contest is in May. Details here.


To see 2016 winners of this competition, please click: 2016 Chamber Composition Winners.

Other recent Winners in this category:


JUDITH LANG ZAIMONT—Maricopa AZ for String Quartet 'The Figure'

DAVID GARNER—San Francisco CA for String Quartet No. 2

PIOTR SZEWCZYK—Jacksonville  FL for Piano Trio No. 1

GREGG WRAMAGE—Atlantic Highlands NJ for La Tristesse Durera



DEREK DAVID—Boston MA for String Quartet No. 1, Viola Sonata

RODRIGO BUSSAD—Miami  FL for "Loin"  for amplified chamber ensemble


Complete, updated listings of winners and runners-up from all seasons will soon be found on the Winners' Pages.

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 and 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.


DEADLINE for postmark or emailing of application(s): Tuesday, March 28, 2017, with extensions available by emailed request.

The American Prize in Composition is offered in six divisions: works for orchestra, chorus, concert band, chamber ensemble, theater, or pops, and in two categories, based on your education and experience. You may make application in any division or in all. Works for chorus and orchestra or chorus and concert band performing together should be submitted in the Choral Division. Works composers themselves would consider "pops" should be submitted using the "POPS" application on the band, orchestra or choral composition contest pages.

The two categories are:
    1. professional composer
    2. student composer (actively engaged in learning the art & craft of composition in a school or other educational setting)

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. 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 PRIMARILY: pay fees online, submit the downloaded application as a PDF file, along with the required emailed information (see application form), include links to performances of your music online. (Please note: We do not accept scores of your music as PDFs. Printed, bound copies of music MUST BE SENT BY MAIL to the office—Why? Read Composer Q&A.) 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, send scores, and recordings of your music 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 Composition—Chamber Music Division—select the vocal and/or instrumental chamber music application form. On the form, 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 recorded selections of your music ONLINE, include the links to them in your required email (see application form.)

    4. If providing recorded selections of your music BY MAIL, include two identical recordings of the composition(s), with the composer, conductor, ensemble and work clearly indicated both on the recording and on the sleeve or box. Be sure both list applicant's name.

    5. All applicants: SEND BY MAIL TWO identical bound copies of each complete score (no reduced or short scores.) Provide a self-addressed envelope (minimum size 11x14 inches) and proper postage if you would like scores returned. We do not accept PDFs or scores provided by other electronic means.
    6. Be sure to sign the form and pay the application fee. Pay ONLINE, if you wish, (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), or send check, money order or credit card information by mail.
    7. Be sure to email the required information (see application form.)

The application fee is $40 per application. Pay ONLINE, (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), pay by credit card, or make checks payable to HCMT/The American Prize. 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 Composition—Chamber Music Division (vocal or instrumental):

The American Prize in Composition—Chamber Music Division (vocal or instrumental) is designed to evaluate and reward composers of works for chamber ensemble or solo instrument or voice which have already been performed, or read and recorded. The performance may be by students, community or professional musicians. Do not block out your name on scores. Composers do not remain anonymous.

For the purposes of this competition, "chamber music" is defined as any composition that is not conducted which requires at least 1 musician. (NEW in 2017: There are now individual contests for INSTRUMENTAL or VOCAL chamber music, with separate application forms. Any eligible chamber works that include human VOICE in any manner, including songs, should be entered using the VOCAL CHAMBER MUSIC application form. The contest also accepts works for any unaccompanied solo instrument, including piano, organ or other keyboard instrument. The definition is purposely broad to allow the largest number of potential contestants to be eligible—including composers of works for instruments, or solo voices, in any combination, including solo works with piano or other accompaniment, provided the compositions are not designed to be conducted.) We seek to welcome the greatest variety of composers of chamber music from throughout the country, including those that may feature electronic elements, either prerecorded or performed live.

For the 2017 competition, there is no restriction as to when the composition was created.

1. MAIL recordings of, or email ONLINE links to, no more than twenty minutes of music per application, unless the composer is applying with a single work of longer duration, in which case the entire work should be sent. There is no minimum time limit. More than one application may be made, if you so desire. Only live performances. No “computer realized” or “synthesized” recordings of acoustic music will be accepted. There are no other restrictions. No scores will be returned without a self-addressed envelope (minimum size 11x14 inches) and proper postage.


2. If sending recordings BY MAIL, performers, works and composer must be clearly identified on the disc and on the cover or video box. We accept DVD, VHS or CD recordings only. No cassette tapes.


3. If submitting ONLINE links to your recordings, include them in your required email. Be sure to identify the links by composer and title of the selection and provide any passwords necessary, so judges can easily access your materials. 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.


SEND required email to: theamericanprize@gmail.com

TIMELINE for this competition:
Final deadline for postmark or emailing applications, with extensions available by emailed request: Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Applications will be acknowledged by email.


In general, the entire competition process is completed before the end of the calendar year. Semi-finalists are announced in the summer, finalists in the fall, 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 our blog and facebook pages. Find those links on the homepage of this website.


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