Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition

At CAG we realize there are many concerns about coronavirus and how it might affect events, concerts, and our competition.

We know many people are away from university and conservatory right now without the ability to make audition videos, so we have extended our earlybird and final deadlines for the competition to allow applicants more time to prepare.

Our new earlybird deadline is April 15, 2020
(save $40 on the application fee)
Our new final deadline is May 15, 2020

We’ll also allow videos shot as early as November 15, 2018 to be submitted (18 months before the new final deadline).

The CAG team wishes everyone good health and we ask you to take care of yourself first!

Applications are now open:

Apply now – soloists

Apply now – ensembles

Pay the application fee

Join our mailing list to stay in the know about the competition
(select “competition updates” under “interests”)

Prizes and Awards

All winners receive:

International management (Americas and Europe) jointly with
CAG and Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT)

Guaranteed performances at both Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall in London

Professional career development and coaching

Additional prizes may include:

Chamber Music America Showcase Performance

More than 40 Performance Prizes with leading orchestras, concert series, and festivals

Read our Competition FAQ for more information.



Concert Artists Guild seeks to partner with young musicians who exemplify artistic excellence and engagement with their audience, have an entrepreneurial spirit, and will go on to create an impact in the world. Artists who fit these criteria are welcome to apply to the 2020 CAG Victor Elmaleh Competition.

To apply, you must fill out the online application form and pay the application fee. All applications will be evaluated in the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds by qualified jury panels. See the 2019 finals jury.

The application consists of the following sections:

  1. Information about you, your musical background, and references
  2. Short answers to the following questions (150 words maximum per question):
  • Why do you think CAG is right for you at this time?
  • What do you feel you need help with over the next few years?
  • In what ways do you hope to use your music to make an impact outside the concert hall?
  1. Sample programs
  • Three sample recital programs (two full-length 90-minute recitals, one hour-long program) that demonstrate your musical personality and awareness of different audiences.
  • A brief description of each program.
  • Please note: this does not form a part of your audition repertoire. However, you are able to perform repertoire listed in this section in any audition round.
  1. A link to a live, unedited audition video of 30-40 minutes of music, showing a variety of repertoire and 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 must have been shot no earlier than November 15, 2018 (18 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. Arias can be included, but the primary focus of the repertoire should be songs.
  1. Supplemental 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)

You must also pay the application fee of $90 (if paid by April 15) or $130 (if paid after April 15).

Timeline and Selection Process

  • March 1: applications open
  • April 15: earlybird application deadline (save $40 on the application fee)
    NB: in order to qualify for the earlybird discount, your application must be submitted and the fee paid by March 31
  • May 15: final application deadline
  • June 30: applicants notified by email whether or not they have been accepted to the semifinals
  • October 8 and 9: semifinals in New York City
  • October 13: finals in New York City


details are subject to change.

The 2020 competition is open to all instruments, voice, and chamber ensembles. We encourage unique chamber ensemble combinations.

Please note: CAG represents solo singers for recitals, chamber music, and orchestral engagements only, not for opera.

Age limits (as of May 15, 2020):

Solo instrumentalists: 28
Solo singers: 30
Ensembles: average age of 30

  • If you are over the age limit, you must upload a statement in the Supplemental Materials section of the application explaining why you are in the early stages of your professional career.
  • No member of an ensemble may be aged over 35.
  • Ensembles should have been in existence with the same membership since at least May 15, 2019 (12 months prior to the competition deadline).


  • Instrumentalists and ensembles with commercial local, national, or international management in Europe or North America are not eligible to apply. However, CAG is glad to work with existing managers outside of these areas. Submit a statement with your application confirming that your manager grants exclusive management rights to CAG 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.



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.


  • 20-30 applicants will be selected for the semifinal round.
  • Solo instrumentalists and chamber ensembles will prepare 90 minutes of music.
  • Solo singers and vocal ensembles will prepare 60 minutes of music, including songs in three languages, one of which must be English. Arias can 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 since 2000.
  • Solo instrumentalists except pianists must include a concerto, to be performed with piano accompaniment.
  • 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.
  • Optional (but highly encouraged): 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.
  • You may be asked to introduce some of your repertoire as you would in various concert settings.
  • Semifinalists will also be asked to submit a short video interview answering predetermined questions, a brief artist statement, and a repertoire list (including a concerto list for solo instrumentalists).
  • Repertoire from the preliminary round may be repeated in the semifinal and final rounds.

LIVE FINAL ROUND (public performance)

  • Up to 8 finalists will be selected.
  • The final round will consist of an uninterrupted recital program up to 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.
  • The finals jury consists of musicians, presenters, composers, and conductors working across diverse roles in the music field.
  • Repertoire from the preliminary and semifinal rounds may be repeated in the final round.


  • You must provide your own pianist, make all rehearsal arrangements, and pay all fees. CAG can recommend qualified pianists and spaces for rehearsal in New York.
  • You are responsible for your own travel and accommodation expenses for the live rounds.

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)