2022 Concerto Competition Guidelines

Saturday, 19 February 2022 in Dinkelspiel Auditorium

1)      Eligibility for the Concerto Competition is open exclusively to current Stanford University undergraduate or graduate students. The competition is a live event that takes place on the Stanford campus. Entrants must be available to participate in person. Video or long-distance participation is not permitted.

2)      Current private study with a member of Stanford’s performance faculty is highly encouraged.

3)      Due to continuing uncertainty about the coronavirus and variants, and the possibility of further disruptions to the orchestral program, this year the number of potential Concerto Competition winners will be limited to two – a maximum of one to perform with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and one to perform with Stanford Philharmonia – to better ensure that all winners will be able to perform their solo pieces with orchestra. Potential entrants are urged to consider pieces that SP could perform. Philharmonia’s roster usually consists of about 30 string players (8 8 6 5 3); pairs of woodwinds, horns, and trumpets; and timpani. Harp, keyboard, and some percussion can also be included, but usually not trombones or tuba, or additional wind players.

4)      Eligible works include concertos or concert pieces of any duration specifically composed for solo instrument(s) or voice and orchestra. Works for more than one solo instrument (such as Brahms’s Double Concerto) are also eligible. Single concerto movements or excerpts of longer works are ineligible. Transcriptions of solo pieces for alternate instruments are ineligible unless specifically approved by the Director of Orchestral Studies (DOS); inquiries regarding works of this kind should be submitted to the DOS as soon as possible and no later than 17 January 2022. In the case of unusual or unpublished works, the entrant must clearly establish to the DOS that score and parts of the work are readily available for performance, through purchase or rental, before being allowed to enter the competition.

5)      Concertos or concert pieces performed by the SSO and SP during the previous four years will be ineligible for that year’s competition. This list of works will be updated annually and made available with the Guidelines.

6)      All entrants are required to have their work fully mastered by the date of the competition.

7)      Memorization of the concerto or concert piece is highly encouraged but not required.

8)      The concerto or concert piece played in the competition will be the work performed with orchestra, in its entirety, if the competitor is chosen as a winner.

9)      The competition will consist of a Preliminary Round (8 minutes of playing per entrant) and Final Round (generally about 15 minutes per entrant). Judges will be instructed to hear each finalist play the entire concerto or concert piece (or at least substantial parts of all movements) to determine, to their satisfaction, that each winner is fully prepared to perform the entire concerto.

10)      In the Preliminary Round, each entrant will perform the first 5 minutes* of the first movement followed by a 3-minute portion of another movement or contrasting section of the work (if a one-movement piece). In the Final Round, any portion of the work may be requested by the judges. For the competition, accompanists should cut lengthy introductions and connecting passages. [*If the opening solo section is longer than 5 minutes, then the entrant may continue for up to 6 minutes as long as the total of both portions in the Preliminary Round does not exceed 8 minutes.]

11)    Entrants are required to have an accompanist for both rounds of the competition.

12)    No entrant may enter on more than one work per competition.

13)    Players of orchestral instruments, pianists, vocalists, and players of guitar, saxophone, and other less common solo instruments will be eligible to enter the competition. While not required, membership in Stanford’s orchestras or other ensemble programs, including chamber music, is highly encouraged for participants in the competition.

14)    Judges will be instructed to choose the winner(s) based primarily on the ability to give the most compelling musical performance. While other factors, such as:

         a)   the degree of technical difficulty;

         b)   the length of the concerto;

may be taken into consideration by the judges, these are secondary to the primary criterion of delivering a compelling musical performance. The judges should not base their decisions on:

         c)   preference for one kind of instrument or musical style over another;

         d)   the level of difficulty for the orchestra (except in extreme cases).

15)    The competition will be adjudicated by two outside judges with broad musical knowledge of the concerto repertoire, keen judgment and integrity, and, ideally, no personal connections to any of the participants. The DOS, serving as the third judge, will determine how many winners (as ranked by the other judges) can be chosen based upon the length of their pieces and viable programming options.

16)    At the end of the Preliminary Round, the judges will determine and announce who will compete in the Final Round (usually about 4-6 finalists).

17)    Based on 30 entrants in the preliminary round, the approximate schedule will be:

         10:00am-4:10pm      Preliminary Round

         4:10-4:45pm            Judges’ determination of finalists

         4:45-5:00pm            Announcement of finalists

         5:00-6:00pm            Final Round, Determination of Winner(s)

         6:00pm                      Announcement of Winner(s)

18)    There is no predetermined number of winners. If multiple winners are chosen, they will be regarded as equal co-winners.

19)    If a winner becomes unavailable to perform on the concert date(s) due to injury, illness, or some other circumstance beyond their control, efforts will be made to reschedule the performance at a later date. If a winner decides to study abroad or take time off from Stanford, thereby preventing that winner from performing on the originally scheduled date(s), the opportunity to perform as soloist with the SSO or SP may be forfeited, although the DOS may, under certain circumstances, attempt to reschedule the concerto on an alternate concert.


20)    The 2022 Concerto Competition will take place on Saturday, 19 February 2022, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

21)    The deadline to apply for the competition was Friday, 4 February 2022. Entrants were asked to list their name, email, phone, student ID#, major, instrument, composer and title of work to be performed, duration of work, name of accompanist, name of sponsoring faculty member, and musical background.

22)    Students with questions about eligible works [see Paragraphs 4 and 5 above] should address them as soon as possible to the DOS, and no later than 17 January 2022.

23)    Each competitor will be required to provide a copy of the work being played in the competition if so requested by the judges. Generally, this will be the case only with obscure or contemporary compositions.