Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition

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

Jessica Bodner, viola, Parker Quartet

Competition Winner (2005)
Grammy Award Winner, Best Chamber Music Performance (2011)
Blodgett Artists-in-Residence, Harvard University

The Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition is an annual competition open to instrumentalists, singers, and chamber ensembles performing classical and non-traditional repertoire.

Information about the 2019 Competition will be posted by December 31, 2018.
Join CAG’s mailing list to receive updates about the 2019 Competition.


Announcing the Winners of the 2018 CAG Competition!

The First Prize was awarded to pianist Yi-Nuo Wang, 22. Management prizes were awarded to percussionist Mitya Nilov, 26 and multi-string quartet Invoke. Invoke was also designated as a New Music/New Places ensemble. All the artists will make their New York debuts during the 2019-20 concert season on the CAG Presents concert series.

Read more about the winners here.

Prizes and Awards

Victor and Sono Elmaleh First Prize of $5,000

All winners receive:

  • Management Contract with CAG
  • New York Debut Recital

Additional prizes include:


details are subject to change.

THE SUGGESTED AGE LIMIT FOR INDIVIDUALS is 30, and 35 for singers. Instrumentalists over 30 and singers over 35 must include a statement explaining why they consider themselves to be in the early stages of a professional career.

THE SUGGESTED AVERAGE AGE LIMIT FOR ENSEMBLES is 30 (including ensembles with one singer), and 35 for vocal ensembles. Ensembles with an average age higher than suggested must include a statement explaining why they consider themselves to be in the early stages of a 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 for at least 12 months prior to the Competition.

NON-TRADITIONAL ENSEMBLES AND INSTRUMENTS are invited to apply. CAG welcomes a statement of purpose and information on repertoire and technical requirements, if appropriate.

SINGERS are invited to apply. CAG welcomes singers with a special interest in concert repertoire.

THE 2018 COMPETITION IS CLOSED TO THE FOLLOWING INSTRUMENTS/ENSEMBLES: clarinet, double bass, harpsichord, fortepiano, organ, and two-piano duo. Four-hand piano duos may apply.

DUOS CONSISTING OF A SOLO INSTRUMENT WITH PIANO (such as violin and piano) should apply as an ensemble, but will be placed in the category of the solo instrument for judging. Applicants may choose their own collaborative artists for all rounds of the Competition.

INSTRUMENTALISTS WITH NORTH AMERICAN MANAGEMENT are not eligible. However, CAG is glad to work with existing managers who are handling engagements outside the US. Applicants with such management must arrange to have their managers submit a letter to CAG including the following statement: “[applicant] will be under management with [name of management] for the following territories: [list territories]. We understand that should [applicant] win the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, CAG will have exclusive management rights for the US.”

SINGERS WITH NORTH AMERICAN MANAGEMENT who wish to perform recitals, chamber music, and orchestral engagements through CAG are eligible to apply if the application is accompanied by a letter from the management to CAG with the following statement: “I hereby give permission and approval for [singer’s name] to enter the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition and agree, without reservation, that should [singer’s name] be selected as a winner of the Competition, he/she would be represented exclusively by CAG for concert engagements.”

Repertoire Requirements & Additional Information


Repertoire should include music in a variety of styles and periods. No specific works or composers are required. Selections should demonstrate the applicant’s breadth of technical and artistic abilities. Musicians specializing in either contemporary, early, or non-traditional music must show programmatic diversity and technical scope. All applicants may repeat repertoire in subsequent rounds.


  • Applicants must submit 30-45 minutes of music showing the range and scope of the applicant’s artistry. Audio recordings only.
  • Include only complete movements or complete works (no excerpts).
  • Concerti and other works with orchestra may be included. These works may also be performed with piano accompaniment, unless you are applying as a solo pianist.
  • Singers should include songs in at least three languages. Singers may include up to two arias, but the primary focus of the repertoire should be songs.
  • Vocal ensembles must include selections in at least three languages, one of which must be English.


  • Solo instrumentalists and chamber ensembles will prepare 60-70 minutes of music and will be asked to perform selections from this.
  • Please 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 applicants must include at least one work composed since 1990.
  • It is recommended that solo instrumentalists include at least two major works, including sonatas, concertos, or other works of similar content and breadth. At least one major work must be performed from memory.
  • Solo instrumentalists (except pianists) may include concertos, to be performed with piano accompaniment.
  • 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.
  • Optional: all applicants may include a work that is unique to their culture/heritage, represents their values, or with which they have a personal connection.
  • Upon acceptance into the Semifinal Round, applicants will receive a Repertoire Sheet with detailed requirements to submit for that round.
  • Repertoire from the Preliminary Round may be repeated in the Semifinal and Final Rounds.


The Final Round will consist of an uninterrupted recital program approximately 20 minutes in length. The program may include complete works or movements from larger works. Repertoire from the Preliminary and Semifinal Rounds may be repeated in the Final Round. Finalists will also be asked to submit two or three sample concert programs and a concerto repertoire list, if appropriate. Although there will be a printed program, applicants are encouraged to speak briefly about their program to the audience.


Applicants are accepted to the Semifinal Round of the Competition on the basis of blind evaluations of the submitted audio recordings by independent judges. All applicants will receive written notification on advancement to the Semifinal Round in the summer of 2018.

Winners or Finalists of other major competitions may request to proceed directly to the Semifinal Round. If you feel your competition record warrants such consideration, please include a statement of request in your application. Requests will be granted at the discretion of CAG staff.


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 and their accompanist’s travel and accommodation expenses.

Please contact if you have questions about the application process.


“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)