2020 SPCO Youth Chamber Music Competition


  • Pre-college musicians 19 years of age or younger and not enrolled in a college degree program.
  • Residents of Minnesota and neighboring states: Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin
  • Non-conducted string and wind (or both) ensembles of 3-8 musicians playing classical chamber music repertoire
  • Groups playing non-classical music in the CREATIVE division

Ensembles are not required to have a coach, but students are strongly encouraged to work with a teacher or other qualified adult musician.

Each ensemble, whether it is coached or not, must have a designated adult chaperone at the competition if they are chosen to compete in the Final round.


Classical – Senior Division
Students 19 and under compete for First, Second or Third Prize

Classical – Junior Division
Students age 15 and under compete for First or Second Prize

Creative Division
Students of any age may compete for the Creative Prize. Competition in this division will be held only if at least three applications are received.


Classical: Any combination of the following instruments:

Strings: violin, viola, cello, string bass, guitar, harp and piano

Winds: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, brass and piano

Creative: Any instrument listed above, plus instruments such as banjo, mandolin, harmonica, maracas and accordion, or those played in national traditional music.


Applications will open on Monday, January 6, 2020. All materials and the competition fee must be received online no later than midnight Monday, February 10, 2020. Late entries will not be accepted.


• An ensemble that placed first in its division last year may not compete again in that division, but individual members may participate in that division again with no more than one original member in the new ensemble.

• An ensemble that did not place first in its division may enter the competition again with the same membership.

• An individual musician may perform in two ensembles, but only if colleagues in the second ensemble are completely different from colleagues in the first ensemble.

• Ensembles must retain, through the Final round, the members and repertoire submitted with their application.


The entry fee is $50 per ensemble. This non-refundable fee must be paid online by credit card.


Each ensemble should prepare one piece or movement of at least 5 minutes in length but not exceeding 10 minutes in total playing time.

Classical – Choose repertoire from Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th century and contemporary works. No jazz, rock or pop.

Creative – Choose from musical genres such as national traditional, fiddle, jazz, etc. Unusual combinations of instruments, arrangements and re-arrangements, improvisational sections and a blending of styles is encouraged, but not required.

Please contact us well in advance of recording your program if you are unsure of your repertoire choices. Repertoire questions may be directed to


For the Finals in the Classical category, two scores for the work performed must be presented to the judging panel. One copy must be an original or published score. The second may be a photocopy, to be submitted for one-time use. Original scores will be returned to participants at the end of the competition.


There will be just two rounds— the Video round and the Final round.

The Video Round:

  • Each ensemble should submit a video recording of one complete piece or movement of at least 5 minutes in length, but not exceeding 10 minutes playing time.
  • The video recording must show all ensemble members at all times.
  • The picture must remain stationary (no panning, fade-in/fade-out or close-up techniques).
  • The ensemble should fill the screen as much as possible.
  • Each piece must be a complete take, with no editing.
  • After recording their video(s), ensemble should upload it to following the instructions within the online application.
  • Label the video(s) in this manner: Ensemble name, composer last name, composition name and movement (if applicable).

    Example: The Diamond Trio; Beethoven Piano Trio in D Major, Opus 70; 1. Allegro vivace con brio.

Need help uploading your videos? Contact

The Final Round:

  • The Video Round judges will select the ensembles that will compete in the Final Round on Sunday, March 15, 2020 in Sundin Hall, Hamline University, St. Paul, MN
  • Please choose attire that best represents your group.
  • The Finals are free and open to the public.
  • Performances will be followed by a reception and awards ceremony.


Classical – Senior Division

First Place - $1,000; performance in Ordway Concert Hall before an SPCO concert
Second Place - $750
Third Place: - $500

Classical – Junior Division

First Place - $500
Second Place - $300

Creative Division

Creative Prize - $500
Judges’ Discretionary Prize - $300
Judges, if they so choose, may award this prize to any finalist group whose performance they feel deserves special recognition.
Audience Favorite - Members of the audience will receive a ballot to indicate which ensemble was their favorite. This is a non-monetary award.


Monday, January 6, 2020— Start date for receiving online applications

Monday, February 10, 2020—Absolute deadline for receiving applications

Week of February 24–28—All entering ensembles will be notified as to whether or not they have been selected to perform in the Finals. Critiques from judges will be sent to each ensemble’s coach or contact person.

Sunday, March 15, 4 p.m.—Competition Finals and Awards in Sundin Hall, Hamline University, St. Paul, MN.



Submit application to beginning Monday, January 6, 2020, but no later than Monday, February 10, 2020. Be prepared to submit the following:

  • Student, parent, school and repertoire information
  • Video of performance (please include name of ensemble with video)
  • Contact person for ensemble
  • Coach of ensemble (if applicable)
  • Color photo of ensemble
  • Bio of ensemble
  • Entry Fee of $50