Composition competitions

Composition competitions. Increasingly numerous after 1950, sponsored by governmental, professional, educational, and other organizations. Prizes may be in the form of medals, scholarships, commissions, performances and cash, or cash alone.

Composition competitions

Composition competitions. Increasingly numerous after 1950, sponsored by governmental, professional, educational, and other organizations. Prizes may be in the form of medals, scholarships, commissions, performances and cash, or cash alone.

In 1886 the Canadian Society of Musicians sponsored a composition contest, awarding 'the marks necessary to pass' to J.D. Kerrison and G.W. Strathy. Ralph Horner won an Earl Grey Prize in 1911 for his orchestral composition Torch Dance. Later, the E.W. Beatty Competition (1928), named for the chairman and president of the CPR, was open to Canadian and foreign composers and offered $3000 in prizes for the best settings of, or compositions based on, French-Canadian folksongs. Winners were Arthur Cleland Lloyd ($1000 for his Orchestral Suite); Claude Champagne ($750 for Suite canadienne); George Bowles ($500 for Suite for String Quartet); and Ernest MacMillan ($250), Alfred Whitehead ($150), and Irvin Cooper ($100), all of whom had arranged folksongs for choir. Honourable mentions were awarded to Bowles, Maud Wyatt Pargeter, and Pierre Gautier. Some of the prize-winning compositions were performed in May 1928 at the CPR Festival in Quebec City. That same year the journal Musical Canada sponsored a pianoforte composition contest which offered prizes of $100, $50, and $25. First prize was won by Leslie Grossmith's Air de ballet, published in Musical Canada in June 1929. The Willingdon Arts Competition, begun in 1929 on the initiative of the Governor General to encourage originality and recognize exceptional merit, included three music composition categories in 1931: violin and piano (won by George Bowles, honorable mention to Hector Gratton), organ (Frank Llewellyn Harrison), and vocal setting (Gladstone Evans). During the 1930s prizes were offered by Jean Lallemand (Prix Jean-Lallemand, 1936-8) and by the Vogt Society (Vogt Society Competition for Canadian Composers 1938-9).

In 1938 the CPRS (CAPAC) initiated an annual competition. The first prize was a $750 scholarship for study at the TCM. In 1941 a junior division was added, offering scholarships for composers under the age of 18. These were replaced in 1970 by the Sir Ernest MacMillan Award/Fellowship of $2000 and the William St Clair Low Award/Fellowship of $2000 (the name changed in each case from 'Fellowship' to 'Award' in 1978). The former was for compositions scored for 12 or more players; the latter for chamber music compositions for 3 to 12 players. By 1978 the awards had a combined value of $6000. By 1990 (the final year of these CAPAC-sponsored awards), with the addition of the Hugh Le Caine Award for composition on tape with electronic means, the Rodolphe Mathieu Award for solo or duet, and the Godfrey Ridout Award for a choral composition, there were five categories with a total value of $12,000 (see CAPAC).

In 1951 the US-based Broadcast Music Inc began to sponsor a student composers' competition; several Canadians have been among the winners. BMI Canada (PRO Canada) established centennial scholarships for student composers in 1967 and annual songwriters' awards in 1969. In 1978 it announced a major composition competition, the PRO Canada Student Composer Awards; and in 1985 it established the Jazz Composers Competition, first awarded in 1986. (See PRO Canada Awards).

In 1991 SOCAN announced composition awards in two major categories that were to supersede those of CAPAC and PRO Canada. For composers under 30, there were five awards: Sir Ernest MacMillan for an orchestral work, Serge Garant for chamber music, Pierre Mercure for solo or duet composition, Godfrey Ridout for choral composition, and Hugh Le Caine for electronic music. The award of $10,000 for a composer over 30 was to be offered in a different category each year: orchestra, 1991, choral 1992, orchestra 1993, and electronic 1994.

The Jewish Women's Musical Club of Winnipeg began a composition competition in 1950, and winners have included Kenneth Winters, Lionel Greenberg, and Aaron Rosenthal. By the late 1950s the Junior Committee of the MSO had begun an annual composition competition. The TSO Junior Women's Committee sponsored two student composers' competitions for which the prizes were $500 and $700 respectively and performance of the chosen works. The first, in 1972, was won by John Chong for Continuum, the second in 1976 by Jean-Claude Paquet for Metamorphosis - Beauty and the Beast - Fantasia for Orchestra.

Several organizations have sponsored single competitions. Laval University presented its tricentennial prize to Maurice Dela in 1952 for Les fleurs de glais. In 1955 the Canada Foundation and the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra offered a $500 prize for a short symphonic composition to be performed at the Ottawa Centenary Festival Concert 5 May 1955. The winner was Neil McKay. In 1958 CAPAC, in conjunction with the Vancouver International Festival, awarded a $1000 prize to Paul McIntyre for his cantata Judith, subsequently premiered at the festival. In 1963 the Montreal Brass Quintet offered a prize for the best brass quintet; the winner was Thomas Legrady for his Suite. The Second-Century Week Composition Competition, sponsored by the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary in 1967, was won jointly by John Hawkins (for Eight Movements, 1966) and Hugh Hartwell (for Matinée d'ivresse, 1966). The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council and the music dept of Memorial U sponsored a competition for choral composers in 1981 that was won by Michael Parker for Missa silvatica. Udo Kasemets was awarded a first for Ragtime in the 1982 East Meets West competition of the Raga Mala Music Society of Calgary. R. Murray Schafer gave a $1000 award for the best new composition at the 1984 Sound Symposium, which was shared by Jeff Johnston (12 Toned Tune), and Joe Carter and Don Wherry (Sitelines). To mark the International Year of Canadian Music in 1986, CAPAC offered a performance and a cash award in four categories totalling $13,000 in memory of Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux. The winners, announced in 1987, were Tim Brady for his orchestral work Variants, Bruce Mather for his chamber piece Barbaresco, Alexina Louie for From the Eastern Gate for solo harp, and Paul Dolden for the electronic work Melting Voices Through Mazes Running. The Canadian prizewinner in the New Music for New Rites Competition of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia in 1987, was Robert Fleming for his Eucharist, submitted posthumously. Toronto's Church of St Mary Magdalene held a competition for a new choral work to mark its centennial in 1988. José Evangelista won first prize ($1500) for his motet 'O quam suavis est,' and Roland A.H. Packer won second prize ($1000) for 'Sing praises to the Lord'. The Scotia Festival of Music received 55 entries in its 1991 composition competition; firsts went to Hope Lee for Nabripamo for piano and marimba, and to Juhan Puhm for Mosaic for small orchestra. As part of the Mozart bicentenial celebrations, NMC held a composer competition, won by mg hynes for Essence, which was performed 27 Jan 1991.

In 1968 the CLComp established a $250 annual scholarship to assist young composers; after 1975 the competition became biennial and the prize was doubled, but the project was discontinued after the 1977 competition.

The Canadian Music Centre has administered three awards. The John Adaskin Memorial Award, first offered in 1964, took the form of a $500 commission for a chamber work. Winners have included John Hawkins (1968), John Rea (1970), Edward Dawson (1972), and Tomas Dusatko (1975). The Canadian Federation of University Women's Creative Arts Award, established in 1969, has offered a $750 commission annually (triennial after 1985), for a chamber work by a young composer chosen through an adjudication of his or her completed works. Winners have been Hugh Hartwell 1970, Paul Crawford 1971, Donald Steven 1972, Denis Lorrain 1973, Peter Paul Koprowski 1975, Patrick Cardy 1976, James Hiscott 1977, Michael Maguire 1978, Kristi Allik 1979, John Burke 1980, Daniel Foley 1981, John Winiarz 1982, Anthony Genge 1983, Denis Dion 1984, Keith Hamel 1985, and Ronald Smith 1988. Whenever possible the CMCentre arranged for premieres and CBC radio broadcasts of the works commissioned for the Adaskin and University Women's awards. The third award administered by the centre, was the Alberto Guerrero Memorial Prize of $2000 for an original piano composition by a Canadian citizen under 35, in 1978; it was won by Edward Arteaga.

The CFMTA awarded Maurice Dela a composition prize in 1960 for his String Quartet No. 1. For its 1991 Halifax convention, it offered two competitions for new music: for composers from the Atlantic provinces only, choral works; an open category for music for piano duo or piano duet. Its annual Canada Music Week Writing Competition was begun in 1971. The SMEA has offered an award for new works in a variety of genres for school-age musicians. The Guitar Society of Toronto conducted a composition competition in its 'Quest for New Music,' as part of its trienntial guitar festivals.

The Robert Fleming Prize (originally the Robert Fleming Award for Young Composers) was created in 1978 as a memorial to the composer. It is open to students in composition at the doctoral level. It was administered originally by the Canadian Music Council; the Canada Council assumed responsibility for it in 1991. The winner receives the interest earned in one year on a $10,000 endowment fund established by friends of the composer. The winners have included André Lamarche 1979, Denys Bouliane 1980, Anthony Genge 1981, Richard Gibson 1982, Denis Dion 1983, (no award 1984), Gilles Gobeil and David Parsons 1985, Guy Perron 1986, Jean Lesage 1988, and Jacques Tremblay 1991.

Other annual competitions established during the 1970s were the Okanagan Music Festival for Composers, begun in 1973 by Jean Coulthard and Alys Monod, which offers four classes of competition: elementary, secondary, university, and open. There are cash prizes, scholarships and public performance. The Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, begun in 1978, was named for Canada's Governor General 1974-9. The Arthur Romano competition for saxophone composition was held at the UQTR in 1978. The Canadian Music Competitions launched a National Composers' Competition in 1979. A number of organizations established annual or biennial composition competitions during the 1980s. Music Inter Alia began one in 1981, for Manitoba composers, offering a cash award and a performance. The Manitoba Composers Association held its Satori composition competition for Canadian composers in 1986. Performance and cash prizes were offered in four categories: choral, chamber, electronic and orchestral. The Vancouver New Music Society established a biennial competition for young British Columbia composers, beginning in 1985; and a second new-music group, Les Événements du Neuf, established its biennial National Tribute to Young Composers that same year. An annual Christmas carol competition was established by the Amadeus Choir of Scarborough, Ont in 1987. Awards, which include a performance, are given in seven categories. The Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects established a young composers competition in 1979, for which the Patricia Kirkpatrick Elliott scholarship was awarded; it was discontinued in 1987.

The CBC has provided encouragement for both composers and pop-song writers through a number of competitions: the CBC International Service Song contest in 1950 for art songs, ballads, and pop songs; 'Opportunity Knocks' (which included a composition category); 'Concours de la chanson canadienne,' 1956-ca 1961; CBC Ottawa's Original Music Competition for Composers, 1964-70; CBC Song Market, 1967-72; and the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers begun in 1973 (see CBC radio competitions 2).

Other competitions for song composition include the Marley-Polydor Competition in Montreal, which Lionel Daunais won in 1949 for 'Chanson du maître cordonnier,' the Granby Song Festival established in 1969 and the annual Multicultural Songwriting Competition, which began in 1974, supported by the multicultural radio stations CHIN, CJVB, CFMB, and CKJS and by PRO Canada and CAPAC. The winner receives $1500 and the Douglas McGowan Award for the best song written in a language other than French or English. To celebrate Alberta's 75th anniversary, the Alberta Composers' Association and Alberta Culture co-sponsored a song competition which was won by Ben and Beth deVan for 'Alberta We Love You'.

The appended list cites some Canadian winners of foreign competitions:

1928 Gena Branscombe. League of American Pen Women; annual award for the finest work by a woman. For Pilgrims of Destiny

1938 and 1939 Alexander Brott. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Awards for orchestral composition. For Two Symphonic Movements (1938); for Oracle (1939)

1941 André Mathieu. New York Philharmonic Centennial Competition. For Concertino No. 2

1944 Eldon Rathburn. Los Angeles Young Artists' Competition. First for Symphonette

1948 John Weinzweig. The Olympic Games composition competitions. Silver medal for Divertimento No. 1

- Alexander Brott. The Olympic Games composition competitions. Bronze medal for War and Peace

1954 Colin McPhee. American Academy of Arts and Letters Prize. For Tabuh-Tabuhan

1955 Clermont Pépin. Radio-Luxembourg. Second prize, for Le Rite du soleil noir

1961 S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté. GEDOK International Competition for Women Composers, Mannheim. Shared first prize for Triple Concerto

1965 Pierre Mercure. International Competition of Symphonic Music, Cava dei Tirreni. First prize for Tryptique

- Harry Somers. International Competition of Symphonic Music, Cava dei Tirreni. Critics' award for Movement for Orchestra

1966 Oskar Morawetz. International Competition of Symphonic Music, Cava dei Tirreni. Critics' award for Sinfonietta for winds

- S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté. GEDOK International Competition for Women Composers. A prize for String Quartet No. 3

- Hector Gratton. Brussels Radio Competition for Marches. For Les Draveurs for brass band

1967 Sydney Hodkinson. Prince of Monaco Award. For Caricatures

1969 Marc Fortier. Ferdinando Ballo Composition Competition (Milan). First prize for Un Doigt de la lune

- Otto Joachim. Prix Paul-Gilson of the Communauté radiophonique des programmes de langue francaise. For Illumination II

- John Rea. Concours de musique de ballet, Geneva. Third prize for The Days/Les Jours

1972 Thomas Schudel. Premio Città di Trieste. First prize for Symphony No. 1

1974 José Evangelista. Confederacion Espanola de Cajas de Ahorros (Madrid). First prize for En guise de fête

1975 Gregory Levin. Viotti prize for Crossroads

1976 Marjan Mozetich. Gaudeamus International Composers' Competition, Holland. Second Prize for wind quintet It's in the Air

1977 Denis Lorrain. Prométhée Special Composition Prize (Lourdes, France). For Extrema

- Raymond Pannell. TV Opera prize of the City of Salzburg. First prize for Aberfan

1980 R. Murray Schafer. Prix musical international Arthur-Honneger for String Quartet No. 1

1981 Linda Bouchard. NACUSA competition. First for Ma lune maligne

- Ka Nin Chan. International Horn Society Composition Contest. First for The Everlasting Voice

1982 Denys Bouliane. Gaudeamus Foundation competition. For Jeu de Société

- Ka Nin Chan. Bartók International Composers' Competition, Budapest Second for String Quartet No. 2 (no first awarded)

- José Evangelista. Ministry of Culture of Spain. Special prize for Vision

1983 Raymond Luedeke. Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest, Illinois. First for Fancies and Interludes IV

1984 Sydney Hodkinson. American Harp Society Composition Competition. Second for Papillons

1985 Glenn Buhr. International Pro Loco Corciano competition, Italy. First for Epigrams

- Christian Calon. Luigi Russolo International Competition, Varese. Award for Portrait d'un visiteur

-.John Celona. International Electroacoustic Competition, Bourges, France. First for Possible Orchestras (at the 21st Harmonic)

- Alan Torok. All-Japan Guitar Concours, composition section. Second for Sonata Ritmica

1986 Glenn Buhr. American Harp Society competition. First for Tanzmusik

- Ka Nin Chan. Alienor Composition Competition, Washington DC. Three awards for Phantasmagoria

- Michael Colgrass. Sudler International Wind Band Composition, and National Band Association De Moulin contest. First for Winds of Nagual

1987 James Dowdy. International Trumpet Guild Composition Competition. First for Movement for Trumpet and Organ

- Tomas Dusatko. International New Music Composer's Competition, New York. Third for Traces of Becoming

- Gilles Gobeil. NEWCOMP (New England Computer Arts Association International Competition. Second for Rivage

- Denis Lorrain. NEWCOMP. For ...black it stood as night

- Wes Wraggett. Luigi Russolo International Competition, Varèse. Second for Le jardin de la coeur

1988 Christian Calon. NEWCOMP. For La disparation

1989 Denys Bouliane. Forum Junger Komponisten, West German Radio. First for Le Cactus rieur et la damoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif unsatiable

- Gilles Gobeil. International Luigi Russolo, Varese. Second for Voix blanche

1990 Paul Dolden. International Electroacoustic Music Competition, Bourges. First for Below the Walls of Jerico

- Rodney Sharman. Kranichsteiner prize, Darmstadt.

1991 James Harley. Lutoslawski International Composers Competition, Warsaw. Second for Windprints (no first awarded)

- Chris Paul Harman. International Rostrum of Composers. First for Iridescence

- Les M. Sabina. International Association of Jazz Educators Composition Competition. For Santiago Side-Step


Further Reading

  • CMCentre. Canadian and International Competitions/Concours canadiens et internationaux (Toronto 1976)