The 2021 Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers (GSC) is open to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who are under the age of 35 on the original application deadline (September 30, 2019). For the 2021 competition that means born after September 30, 1984.
All submitted works must be 100% original.

Competition dates

  • Application deadline: September 30, 2019, at 12:00 PM (noon) EST
  • Finalists announced: January 15, 2020
  • Competition Postponed to 2021: July 31, 2020
  • Finalists submit commissioned work (full score and individual parts): November 15, 2020, by 12:00 PM (noon) EST
  • Finalists arrive in Montreal: September 17, 2021
  • Final concert round: September 26, 2021


The commissioned works of all finalists will be premiered at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. The concert will be webcast. 

  • 1st Prize: $15,000 CA
  • 2nd Prize: $9,000 CA
  • Honorable Mention (3): $3,000 CA
  • Honorable Mention (4): $3,000 CA
  • Honorable Mention (5): $3,000 CA
  • People's Choice Award of $6,000 CA

NB: The prize totals have been adjusted to reflect the amount awarded at the final competition. Each finalist will be awarded $3,000 CA upon delivery of their composition in 2020 as part of the postponement plan.

Application procedure

All official competition communications will be by email.

You must fill out the online application form and include:

  • Proof of age and Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status. The following are acceptable documents: birth certificate, passport, citizenship certificate, or permanent resident card.
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae and a biography of 250-300 words.
  • Scores for three (3) original works (in PDF format), each from 3-15 minutes long, with accompanying program notes (in PDF format). Since the final round of competition will be a commission for piano trio (violin, cello, and piano), we strongly recommended that one of your three preliminary submissions be in chamber music formation for strings or strings with piano.
  • An audio OR video media file link for a minimum of one of your submitted works. Aim for the most professional standard possible. Before you send it, check that the link is working and can be read with any standard player. Links for Soundcloud (audio) and YouTube (video) are recommended.

The GSC reserves the right to dismiss submissions that do not meet these requirements prior to jury review.

Travel to Montreal

If you are selected as a finalist, you will be required to be in Montreal from September 17 to September 27, 2021, inclusive, to rehearse with the ensemble and to attend the final concert.

Your travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the Competition. You will also receive a per diem. The Competition will not cover any costs for persons accompanying you to Montreal for the Competition.

Commissioned composition for final concert round

  • Finalists must compose an original work for piano trio (violin, cello, and piano). The work must be 8 to 12 minutes long.
  • Preparation of the piano, violin or cello as well as the use of electronics or soundtracks is not permitted. The retuning of string instruments (scordatura) is not permitted. The concert piano will be tuned to 442 Hz and cannot be retuned.
  • The GSC will provide one professional ensemble to perform all of the works at the final concert, which will be webcast.
  • The ensemble will have twelve (12) hours of rehearsal on a finalist's work prior to the performance.
  • Finalists will have three (3) hours to work with the musicians between September 18 and 25, 2021.
  • The commissioned work may not be performed in public by another ensemble in advance of the GSC. It must be premiered on September 26, 2021.

Application Form

The deadline to apply for the 2021 edition of the Graham Sommer Competition has passed. Read about eligibility and submission procedures.

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