Announcing the launch of the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers


The Schulich School of Music of McGill University is proud to announce the first edition of the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers. The late Dr. Graham Sommer, an alumnus of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine as well as an accomplished pianist and ardent music lover, made a gift to create a biennial competition for young Canadian composers, with a focus on chamber music. This first edition of the national competition encourages the creation of new works for piano quintet.  Five young Canadian composers, under 35 years of age, will be chosen to create new works for piano quintet, earning prizes ranging from $5,000 - $15,000 as well as a concert premiere at the Schulich School of Music on September 29, 2018.

Dr. Graham Sommer died on October 2, 2016 leaving a legacy of excellence in medicine and an abiding love for the transformative power of music. A native of British Columbia, Sommer graduated from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine in 1972 and went on to become an assistant professor at Yale University, before joining Stanford University as a Professor of Radiology and a world class researcher for 37 years.  Dr. Sommer’s enduring passion for music has resonated at McGill notably through the Dr. Graham Sommer Piano Fund, which supported the restoration of pianos in McGill residences and the purchase of a new piano for Douglas Hall. While Sommer excelled in his chosen field of medicine, he was inspired by a lifelong love of music fostered by his own accomplishments as a classical pianist and composer.

Schulich School of Music Dean Brenda Ravenscroft, who chairs the jury for the new competition, comments: “We are so honoured that Dr. Sommer selected McGill and Montreal as the home for this wonderful initiative. Dr. Sommer’s love of classical music was a driving force in his life, inspiring him to share this passion with others, particularly through his tremendous support of McGill. With this important competition, Dr. Sommer’s extraordinary legacy will endure, shining a light on the best young composers from across Canada and inspiring the creation of exciting new works for the chamber music repertoire.” The complete jury, to be comprised of performers, composers, and concert-goers, will be announced in November.

Canadian composers under the age of 35 (born after December 1, 1982), are invited to submit three original works (each 3-15 minutes long) by December 1, 2017. In February 2018, the jury will select five finalists who will each be invited to create an original work for piano quintet, 8-12 minutes in duration, to be completed by August 1. The five new works will be premiered at a celebratory concert at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music on September 29, 2018, which will also be webcast. Each of the composers will be awarded cash prizes ranging from $5,000 - $15, 000, and one finalist will receive an additional $5,000 People’s Choice Award.

For further information and the application procedure, please see: