Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition

The 2020 CAG Competition dates and application information will be announced soon.

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CAG is proud to announce four new winners from the 2019 Competition:

Turkish cellist Jamal Aliyev

American violist Jordan Bak

German recorder player Tabea Debus

Boston-based piano trio Merz Trio

Prizes and Awards

  • Management by CAG
  • New York showcase performance livestreamed by the Violin Channel
  • Professional career development and coaching

Additional prizes may include:


To apply for the CAG Competition, you must fill out the online application form. Applications will open in February of 2019. The application consists of the following sections:

  1. Personal information about you, your musical education, prizes, and awards
  2. A complete working repertoire list, and a concerto list for solo instrumentalists
  3. Three varied sample programs demonstrating your personal programming style
  • CAG supports our artists in collaborative, interdisciplinary, and educational outreach performances. Your programs may include examples of these.
  • Your programs may be examples of past performances or future proposals.
  1. A general statement of your artistic intent. This should also include how you plan to use your art to make an impact outside the concert hall (1 page maximum)
  2. One 25-30 minute unedited audition video of music with a variety of repertoire showing the range and scope of your artistry.
  • The video must be live and unedited. It does not have to be from a concert performance. The video can be compiled from several live performances, but not edited. The video must have been shot no earlier than April 14, 2018 (12 months before the application deadline).
  • Include only complete movements or complete works (no excerpts). Concerti with piano accompaniment may be included, unless you are applying as a solo pianist.
  • Solo singers and vocal ensembles must include songs in at least three languages, one of which must be English. There is no aria requirement (although arias may be included), but the primary focus of the repertoire should be songs.
  1. One video interview (5 minutes maximum) answering the following questions:
  • What is your name, what instrument do you play, and where are you from?
  • Why do you make music?
  • What do you hope to gain from winning the CAG Competition?
  • What do you want to bring to the music world beyond your skills as a performer?
    Feel free to be creative with your approach to this video.
  1. Additional materials
  • An age statement (if you are over the age limit; see eligibility requirements for details)
  • A statement from commercial management (if you have a manager; see eligibility requirements for details)
  • Optional: contact details for up to three professional references in the performing arts. Do not include your teacher.

You must also pay the application fee of $90 (if paid by March 31) or $130 (if paid after March 31). The final deadline is April 14, 2019.


  • February 1, 2019: applications open
  • March 31: earlybird application deadline (save $40 on the application fee)
  • April 14: final application deadline
  • July 31: applicants notified by email whether or not they have been accepted to the semifinals
  • Thursday, October 3 and Friday, October 4: live semifinal round, Yamaha Artist Services, New York
  • Sunday, October 6: live final round, Merkin Concert Hall, New York (free and open to the public)


details are subject to change.

The 2019 competition is open to the following instruments and categories:

  • Strings
  • Piano
  • Woodwind
  • Brass
  • Voice
  • Harp
  • Chamber ensembles (including piano duos and guitar ensembles)

The 2019 competition is closed to the following:

  • Solo: accordion, clarinet, double bass, fortepiano, guitar, harpsichord, organ, and percussion
  • Ensemble: saxophone quartet
  • Please note: CAG represents solo singers for recitals, chamber music, and orchestral engagements only, not for opera.

Age limits (as of April 14, 2019):

  • Solo instrumentalists: 30
  • Instrumental ensembles (including those with one singer): average age of 30
  • Solo singers: 35
  • Vocal ensembles: average age of 35
  • If you are over the age limit, you must include a statement explaining why you are in the early stages of your professional career.
  • No individual member of an instrumental ensemble may be aged over 35, and no individual member of a vocal ensemble may be aged over 40.
  • Ensembles should have been in existence with the same membership since at least April 14, 2018 (12 months prior to the competition deadline).


  • Instrumentalists and ensembles with North American management are not eligible. However, CAG is glad to work with existing managers who are handling engagements outside the US. Submit a statement with your application confirming that your manager grants exclusive management rights to CAG in the US if you should win the competition.
  • Singers with North American management who wish to perform recitals, chamber music, and orchestral engagements through CAG are eligible to apply. Submit a statement with your application confirming that your manager grants management rights to CAG for concert engagements if you should win the competition.

Major Competition Prizewinners:

  • Top prizewinners of recent major international competitions may bypass submitting an audition video on the basis of their competition record. A list of eligible competitions can be found here.
  • An application with the remaining materials is still required, and all materials will be considered.

Applicants will be evaluated in the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds by a qualified jury. The finals jury consists of musicians, presenters, composers, and conductors working across diverse roles in the music field.

Repertoire Requirements & Additional Information


Your repertoire for all rounds of the competition should reflect your personal programming sensibility. No specific works or composers are required. All applicants can repeat repertoire in each round.


  • Up to 40 applicants will be selected for the semifinal round.
  • Solo instrumentalists and chamber ensembles will prepare 60-70 minutes of music.
  • Solo singers and vocal ensembles will prepare 50-60 minutes of music, including songs in three languages, one of which must be English. There is no aria requirement (although arias may be included), but the primary focus of the repertoire should be songs.
  • Include complete works only, unless it is common practice to perform selected movements of the work (for example, the Bach Chaconne or a selection of Chopin Preludes).
  • All semifinalists must include at least one work composed in 2000 or later.
  • Solo instrumentalists must include at least two major works such as sonatas, concerti, or other works of similar content and breadth. At least one major work must be performed from memory. Solo instrumentalists (except pianists) may include concerti, to be performed with piano accompaniment.
  • Optional: all applicants may include a work that is unique to your culture or heritage, represents your values, or with which you have a personal connection. Please be prepared to speak briefly about this in the semifinal audition.
  • Repertoire from the preliminary round may be repeated in the semifinal and final rounds.


  • Up to 10 finalists will be selected.
  • The final round will consist of an uninterrupted recital program approximately 20 minutes in length.
  • Your program can include complete works or movements from larger works.
  • Although there will be a printed program, you must speak briefly about your program to the audience.
  • Repertoire from the preliminary and semifinal rounds may be repeated in the final round.


  • Soloists must provide their own pianists, make all rehearsal arrangements, and pay fees. CAG can recommend qualified pianists and spaces for rehearsal in New York.
  • Competition applicants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.

Please read this information carefully, and contact if you have questions about the application process not answered here.


“We are forever grateful to Concert Artists Guild for the guidance and support we received, including CAG’s amazing dedication and care in helping us understand the field and get our feet wet on the concert stage.”
Pacifica Quartet (Competition Winner, 1997)

“CAG provided me with numerous opportunities to present recitals and in so doing, to explore and master much of the song repertoire.”Martina Arroyo (Competition Winner, 1956)

“We are deeply proud to have been the first string quartet to win the CAG Competition in 1982. The recognition, the trust and the approval that CAG conferred upon our earliest efforts has continued to inspire us into what is now our third decade together.” Alexander String Quartet (Competition Winner, 1982)

“Winning the CAG Competition made our career. CAG found us gigs, gave us advice, provided a major commission and put us out into the world in a supportive but forceful way. CAG made us feel that a new music group had a viable opportunity to make a place for itself in the chamber music world of the twenty-first century.”

– Matthew Albert, violin, Eighth Blackbird (Competition Winner, 1998)

“Winning First Prize at the CAG Competition was a blessing without a disguise. I, and everyone since, have had the bountiful help of a thinking creative collective mind and a strategic pulse to perpetuate our careers and give us the initial boost we all so need.”

Marina Piccinini, flute (Competition Winner, 1986)

“I consider winning CAG the pivotal point in my duo’s career, which gave us the opportunity to expand our artistry. CAG guided us with such great passion and expertise that built the foundation for our duo that continues to thrive ten years later.”

– João Luiz, Brasil Guitar Duo (Competition Winner, 2006)

“CAG simply changed my life and the life of our quartet.”

– Jessica Bodner viola, Parker Quartet (Competition Winner, 2005)