Schulich School of Music announces finalists for the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers

Published: 15 January 2020

For immediate release

Five young composers to compose new works for piano trio for the Competition’s final round, which will take place September 27, 2020, in McGill’s Pollack Hall

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, January 15, 2020 — The Schulich School of Music of McGill University is pleased to announce five finalists for the second edition of the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers. Established in 2017, this national competition recognizes works for chamber music formations with piano that show significant potential to engage audiences and become standard repertoire. Selected from over 60 Canadian applicants under the age of 35, this year’s finalists will compose new works for piano trio (violin, cello, piano) to be premiered before a live jury in September. The finalists are:

Toronto-born composer Alec Hall’s work frequently engages with non-musical subjects, crossing traditional boundaries of instrumentation and discipline. He co-founded the New-York-based collective Qubit, which produced his opera The House of Influence in 2018. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fromm commission, and the 2019 Jules Léger Prize, among other honours.

Quebécois composer and organist Laurence Jobidon is the winner of the Generation Orchestra Composition Competition, as well as the 2018 Prix 3 Femmes – Mécénat Musica for her chamber opera with libretto by Pascale St-Onge, L'hiver attend beaucoup de moi, to be premiered by Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier Lyrique this March.

Michael Kim-Sheng is a producer and composer whose work combines the worlds of classical and popular, acoustic and electronic music. In 2018, he received a SOCAN grand prize for emerging composers, and he released his debut EP Haven of Lavender in 2019. He is also active as a piano instructor, video game composer, and YouTuber.

Described as “playful” (New York Times), “hypnotic” (Sequenza 21), and “highly personal” (CBC Radio), Jared Miller’s music has been featured by major ensembles and festivals across North America. Miller is passionately invested in musical education and outreach and currently serves on the composition faculty of New York’s Special Music High School.

Matthew Ricketts’s music has been noted for its “effervescent and at times prickly sounds” (ICareIfYouListen) and “tart harmonies and perky sputterings” (The New York Times). In recent years, he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell Colony, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Aspen Music Festival. He currently serves as a Core Lecturer at Columbia University.

The final round of the competition will take place on September 27, 2020, in Pollack Hall and will be webcast live. Outstanding McGill alumnae Amy Hillis (violin), Chloé Dominguez (cello), and Meagan Milatz (piano) will premiere the five new works by the finalists before a live panel. Following the performance, the jury will award over $50,000 in prizes: $18,000 for the first prize, $12,000 for the second, three honourable mentions of $6,000, as well as a $6,000 People’s Choice Award.

Chaired by Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs Professor Douglas McNabney, the jury comprises lifelong pianist, McGill alumnus, and surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Dr. Darius Bägli; celebrated British composer Charlotte Bray, as well as internationally recognized Canadian composers Dorothy Chang and Brian Current; Executive and Artistic Director of Jeunesses Musicales Canada, Danièle LeBlanc; and Conservatoire de musique de Montréal professor Helmut Lipsky, a violinist, composer, improviser, and pedagogue. Canadian composer Nicolas Gilbert assisted in the selection of the five finalists for the preliminary round.

About the Competition

Canadian composers under the age of 35 were invited to submit three scores for any standard chamber music configuration by September 1, 2019. Based on these submissions, an international jury of composers, performers, and distinguished members of the classical music community selected five finalists to create an original work for piano trio. In the spirit of Graham Sommer’s love for sharing music, the final round of the competition will take place during Quebec’s 24th edition of the Journées de la Culture, an annual event promoting greater access to arts and culture for everyone. The five commissioned works will be premiered before a live jury at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music on September 27, 2020 in Pollack Hall. The concert will be webcast, and the winners of all prizes, including the audience prize, will be announced following the performance and jury deliberations. For more information, visit

About Dr. Graham Sommer

Dr. Sommer died on October 2, 2016 and left 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 hold positions at Yale and Stanford Universities, becoming 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 also inspired by a lifelong love of music fostered by his own accomplishments as a classical pianist and composer.

Contact Information

Schulich School of Music of McGill University
Annie Saumier, Associate Director (Communications and Production)
annie.saumier [at]

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