About the Competition

Key dates

  • Application deadline: September 30, 2019
  • Finalists announced: January 15, 2020
  • Finalists submit commissioned works: November 15, 2020
  • Final concert and prize gala: September 26, 2021

Established in 2017, the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers encourages the creation of new Canadian chamber music by up-and-coming composers. The competition recognizes works for chamber music formations, including piano, that have the potential to engage a wide audience and become part of the standard repertoire.

This national competition is administered by McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The jury is made up of international and Canadian composers, Canadian musicians, and seasoned chamber music concert-goers.

Five finalists will receive cash prizes ranging from $6,000 to $18,000 CA and their works will be premiered in a concert at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.

The Concert and Prize Gala will take place at 3:30pm on September 26, 2021 in Pollack Hall at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. If you can't attend, you'll be able to watch the webcast on the School's YouTube page.

Submissions for the 2021 Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers are closed. The deadline to apply was September 30, 2019.

About Graham Sommer

Graham Sommer playing the piano

A lifetime music lover and distinguished alumnus of McGill University, Dr. Graham Sommer has established a new competition to promote the creation of new musical works.

Originally from British Columbia, music has always held an important place for Dr. Sommer. A graduate of McGill’s class of ’72, Dr. Sommer pursued a successful career in academic radiology at Stanford University for 37 years, retiring in 2016 as Professor of Radiology, Emeritus, all the while playing in concerts when he could. An accomplished pianist, he also composed music of his own.

His connection and fondness for McGill would continue long past his graduation. In his desire to make music accessible and available for all, he created the Dr. Graham Sommer Piano Fund which saw to the restoration of pianos in all of McGill’s residences as well as the purchase of a new piano for the Douglas Hall residence.

Dr. Sommer’s life reflects a longtime devotion to healing. From his years of research where he made significant advancements into finding a cure for cancer, to the belief that music also had the capacity to heal and bring people together, Dr. Sommer pursued both passions with commitment and conviction.

Though Dr. Sommer has passed away, his vision for music that can connect to our collective emotional experience endures with the creation of the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers.

About McGill's Schulich School of Music

Front view of Strathcona Music Building, McGill University, with Elizabeth Wirth Music Building to the right

Founded in 1904, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University embodies the highest international standards of excellence in professional training and research.

The School is renowned for its orchestral, operatic, jazz, contemporary and early music training programs as well as its music research disciplines. Its leadership in sound recording and music technology is unparalleled in North America, and helps foster unique collaborative projects each year.

The Schulich School of Music is recognized as one of the top music schools in North America and abroad and the reputation of its more than 240 professors attracts over 850 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The school presents approximately 700 concerts and events annually.

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