orchestraThe American Prize in Composition—Orchestra Division, 2018-19

FINAL DEADLINE for postmark or emailing of application(s): Monday, April 30, 2018.
There is no need to email in advance to take advantage of the later date. (Please note that the deadline date on the application form will not be changed, but be assured that your application will be accepted through the end of April. Please email with questions or problems.)

The American Prize in Composition recognizes and rewards the best composers in America of works for orchestra, chorus, concert band, chamber ensemble, theater, opera, dance or film that have been publicly performed, or read and recorded. A new, separate category is for works composers themselves would consider "pops" or "light" music.

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


To see 2016 winners in the Orchestra composition division, please click: 2016 orchestra winners. Full 2017-18 results will be posted soon.

Other recent winners in the orchestra category:


ANGELIQUE POTEAT for "Beyond Much Difference"—Seattle WA

GREGG WRAMAGE for "La tristesse durera" —Atlantic Highlands NJ



PATRICK O'MALLEY for the Symphonic Poem "Even in Paradise"—Los Angeles CA

TEXU KIM for "Monastic Sceneries" —Bloomington  IN

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.



FINAL DEADLINE to email and/or postmark applications: MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2018

The American Prize in Composition is offered in six divisions: works for orchestra, chorus, concert band, chamber ensemble, theater (including opera, dance and film), 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.

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), paying fees online, or by check, by money order or credit card.



   1. Download the application form for The American Prize in Composition—Orchestra Division (or POPS Division). 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 orchestral 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 $45 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—Orchestra Division—(or POPS Division):


The American Prize in Composition—Orchestra Division (or POPS division) is designed to evaluate and reward composers of orchestra works which have already been performed, or read and recorded. The performance may be by a student, community or professional ensemble. Do not block out your name on scores. Composers do not remain anonymous. For the purposes of this competition, an “orchestra work” is defined as any composition that is designed to be conducted which requires at least 8 musicians and includes among its membership bowed string instruments. (This definition is purposely broad to allow the largest number of potential contestants to be eligible. We seek to welcome the greatest variety of composers of orchestra works from throughout the country, including those that may feature electronic elements, either prerecorded or performed live.)

For the 2018-19 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: Monday, April 30, 2018. 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.