The Challenge

The National Young Composers Challenge is open to young musicians ages 13 to 18 who are U.S. residents.

The Challenge is simple. First, you write your own composition for small ensemble (2 to 6 instruments) or full orchestra. Then, a panel of judges chooses the top three orchestral and top three ensemble compositions to be performed and recorded by a professional symphony orchestra at the NYCC Composium. We are excited to announce that the 2016 Composium will be held at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on November 13, 2016.


At the Composium, the top three orchestral composers will be awarded $1000 each and the top three ensemble composers will be awarded $500 each.

PLUS! Each winner will receive a professional recording of their composition.

2015 Finalists

In 2015 the National Young Composers Challenge received 117 submissions - more than twice the number of submissions from any previous year. The sophistication and quality of the scores has continued to grow stronger each year. Because of the difficulty of picking only three winners in each category, the judges also announce the list of finalists from which the winning scores were selected. Each one of these composers deserves recognition as a winner, but unfortunately only a few scores can be selected as winners.

To view the list of 2015 finalists, click here.

2015 Winners

Normally, three ensemble submissions and three full-orchestra submissions are selected from the finalists. However, since in 2015 we were overwhelmed with so many amazing scores, one additional ensemble winner was selected. The winners of the 2015 National Young Composers Challenge were:

Ensemble Winners

Fantasy for String Quintet - Justin Zeitlinger - Dumont, NJ - age 14

Ignis Fatuus - Emil Ernstrom - Palo Alto, CA - age 18

Polarity for String Quartet - Avik Sarkar - Chestnut Hill, MA - age 14

Sextet - Evan Kauffmann - New York, NY - age 15

Full Orchestra Winners

Fractured Night/Blue Stars - Paul Novak - Reno, NV - age 16

Outbursts of Joy - Robert Tindle - Miami, FL - age 18

The Water Phoenix - Sterling Maffe - Artesia, CA - age 18


The National Young Composers Challenge is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization supported by grants and in-kind donations from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, University of Central Florida, Rollins College, Full Sail University, and the Goldman Charitable Foundation.