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How To Compete In The American Protégé International Competitions

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a pile of music sheets

How To Win The American Protégé International Competitions

For young musicians aiming to reach their full potential, participating in music competitions is essential for building a successful career and being admitted to prestigious music schools. Among the many competitions available, American Protégé International Competitions stand out. This guide will explore the details of American Protégé competitions and how you can maximize your experience.

What are the American Protégé International Competitions?

The American Protégé International Music Competitions aim to support young musicians, actors, and singers in their pursuit of successful careers through a series of musical competitions throughout the year.

For over fourteen years, American Protégé has been instrumental in advancing the careers of its participants and winners, promoting their talents and offering numerous benefits. These programs help build confidence, enhance performance skills, and ultimately assist participants in achieving their dreams. By performing on stage in New York City, one of the world’s premier performance venues, participants gain exposure to new audiences and create lasting memories.

American Protégé provides instrumentalists, singers, and ensembles with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to elevate their talents. The debut of the American Protégé Summer Gala Concerts has allowed talented artists to perform at prestigious music venues, including the 2,800-seat Isaac Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage and the 600-seat Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

How does the American Protégé International Music Competitions work?

American Protégé offers a variety of International Music Competitions and song contests for different music genres, instruments, and levels of applicants’ qualification. All their music competitions are open to musicians of any age, race, nationality, or country, providing equal opportunities in a friendly, though very competitive, environment for those who want to demonstrate their talents and realize their dreams of performing at the world’s most prestigious venues such as Isaac Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Participation in American Protégé Music Competitions leaves a memorable experience for both young musicians and professionals, helping to build their confidence and strengthen their performance skills. Here is a list of the competitions that they hold every year:

  • Piano & Strings Competition
  • Concerto Competition
  • Competition of Romantic Music
  • Music Talent Competition
  • Woodwinds and Brass Competition
  • Vocal Competition
  • We Sing Pop! International Song Contest

Let’s break down what makes each of these competitions stand out and why they are celebrated.

American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition

The American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition welcomes school students and adults of all nationalities, accepting participants for all instruments, including piano, strings, voice, and winds. Participants must submit video recordings for their auditions, and multiple winners will be chosen in each age category. There is no age limit for adult participants.

Four qualified, independent judges will evaluate the audition materials, ensuring fairness as their students are not permitted to apply this season. Dr. Sophya Genis, a graduate of the Gnessin Academy of Music and holder of a Doctor of Music Arts Degree, will serve as Chairwoman for the 2025 Competition.

Applicants may choose one or two pieces from the standard repertoire, including Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or Contemporary periods. A fast movement from a Sonata or Sonatina can be accepted as a separate piece. If selected as a winner, the first (required) piece will be included in the Recital program. Only one piece can be performed at the Winners Recital; sets of different works are not acceptable. For pianists, only original pieces will be accepted, with no shortened versions allowed.

Who is eligible?

Multiple winners will be selected in each of the following age groups:

Art students performing in the stage.

For School Students:

  • Young Musicians: ages 5 – 10
  • Junior: 1 – 14
  • Intermediate: 15 – 18

For Adults (18 and older):

  • Amateurs without a professional degree
  • College Students and Professional Musicians

Eighteen-year-old school students must compete in the Intermediate Category, while eighteen-year-olds must apply under the College Students/Professionals Category.

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200 for one audition piece (additional $50 fee for the second audition piece)
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

Please check their official website for the complete list of competition guidelines to prepare fully.

American Protégé International Concerto Competition

The American Protégé International Concerto Competition is open to all instruments, including strings, piano, voice, and winds. Participants must submit video recordings for the audition, which will be evaluated by an international panel of qualified judges.

All judges are independent, and their students are not allowed to apply this season. Ms. Irina Kaufman-Brookes (U.K./Russia), a concert pianist and teacher, will be Chairwoman of the Concerto Competition 2025. A graduate of the Gnessin Academy of Music under Prof. E. Lieberman and Prof. L. Naumov, Ms. Kaufman-Brookes has won numerous international competitions and performed as a soloist and chamber ensemble pianist with the Bolshoi Theater, Stanislavskiy and Nemirovich-Danchenko Opera Theatre, and various orchestras across Europe and the USA.

Given the uncertainty of the global health situation, winners can perform at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on dates to be announced or receive a Winner’s Package by mail. Based on the judges’ recommendations, a $300 scholarship and other special awards may be granted.

Female student holding her books in the school campus.

Vocalists should perform an opera aria or a folk/traditional piece. Selections must be performed from memory, accompanied by either an orchestra or piano.

Who is eligible?

School students and adults are invited to participate in the Competition, with no age limit for adult participants. Multiple winners will be chosen in each of the following age groups:

For School Students:

  • 12 and under
  • 13 – 18

For Adults (19 and older):

  • Amateurs without a professional degree
  • College students and professional musicians

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Ensembles: $150/member

Please check their official website for the complete list of competition guidelines to prepare fully.

American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music

The American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music is open to instrumentalists (piano, piano duo, winds, strings, chamber orchestras, voice) from all nationalities and countries. Participants must submit video recordings for the audition, and multiple winners will be chosen in each age category.

Four qualified, independent judges will evaluate the audition materials, with their students not allowed to apply this season. Dr. Sophya Genis will serve as Chairwoman of the 2024 Competition. Holding a Doctor of Music Arts Degree, she studied piano with renowned professors Alexander Yoheles, Yakov Milstein, and Yakov Zak.

Compositions from the late Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, dated between 1815-1910, may be chosen for the audition. The first (required) piece will be included in the recital program if the participant is selected as a winner. Only original pieces will be accepted for pianists, with no shortened versions allowed. Only one piece may be performed at the Winners Recital, and sets of different works are not acceptable.

Young man playing piano in the dark.

Who is eligible?

The eligibility for applying is based on age categories:

  • Young Musicians (ages 5 – 10) 
  • Junior (ages 11 – 14)
  • Intermediate (ages 15 – 18)
  • Amateur (ages 19 and up)
  • College Students and Professional Musicians (ages 18 and up)

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

American Protégé International Music Talent Competition

The American Protégé International Music Talent Competition is open to instrumentalists (piano, winds, strings, brass, traditional instruments, etc.), vocalists, and traditional folk and jazz groups from all nationalities and countries. Participants must submit video recordings for the audition. American Protégé seeks genuinely talented individuals who possess creativity and stage charisma.

Talented performers of any age and genre are invited to participate in the competition. Participants may choose one piece from the extended repertoire, including:

  • Classical repertoire (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or Contemporary periods), with any interpretations acceptable
  • Folk/Traditional pieces
  • Broadway/Musical Theatre
  • Jazz (no drums)
  • Open category, which can contain two or more styles.
  • Participants’ own compositions.

Singers are encouraged not to choose pop repertoire. Pop singers can apply for the We Sing Pop International Song Contest.

Who is eligible?

Here’s who can participate in this competition:

  • School Students: 6 to 12 years
  • School Students: 3 to 18 years
  • Amateurs without a professional degree
  • College Students and Professionals

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

American Protégé International Woodwinds and Brass Competition

The American Protégé International Woodwinds and Brass Competition is designed for solo performers and ensembles of all ages, nationalities, and countries who seek to challenge themselves in a highly competitive environment. The competition is open to musicians playing flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bass clarinet, bassoon, piccolo, trumpet, trombone, French horn, flugelhorn, tuba, and other woodwind and brass instruments. Participants must submit a video recording of a recent performance for the audition.

Brass Instruments placed on the floor.

Who is eligible? 

School students and adults are invited to participate in the Competition, with no age limit for adult participants.

Multiple winners will be selected in each of the following age groups:

  • Young Musicians: Ages 5 – 9
  • Junior: Ages 10 – 13
  • Intermediate: Ages 14 – 17
  • Amateur (without Professional Degree): Ages 18 and older
  • College Students and Professionals: Ages 18 and older

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

American Protégé International Vocal Competition

The American Protégé International Vocal Competition is designed for singers seeking to challenge themselves in a highly competitive environment. Open to solo vocalists and vocal groups of all ages, nationalities, and countries, participants are required to submit video recordings for the audition.

A panel of qualified, independent judges will evaluate the audition materials, and their students are not permitted to apply this season.

Participants may choose one, two, or three songs from the following repertoire categories:

  • Opera aria
  • Classical repertoire (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or Contemporary periods)
  • Folk/Traditional
  • Broadway/Musical Theatre/Jazz

Pop repertoire is not acceptable for the audition. Pop singers are encouraged to apply for the We Sing Pop International Song Contest.

Who is eligible?

School students and adults are invited to participate in the Competition, with no age limit for adult participants.

Multiple winners will be selected in each of the following age groups:

  • Young Singers: Ages 5 – 10
  • Junior: Ages 11 – 14
  • Intermediate: Ages 15 – 17
  • Amateur (without Professional Degree): Ages 18 and older
  • College Students and Professional Singers: Ages 18 and older

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

We Sing Pop! International Pop Music Song Contest

The We Sing Pop! International Pop Music Song Contest was created by the committee behind American Protégé, a renowned musical competition that has significantly impacted the world of classical, jazz, and folk music over the past decade. American Protégé has organized over three hundred concerts at prestigious venues such as Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Kaufman Music Center. Following a successful debut in 2016 they have had impressive results from 2017 to 2023.

Male student writing a song using a paper.

The contest is open to both signed and unsigned artists from around the world, inviting selected finalists to perform in luxurious venues in New York City, a hub for many of today’s top billboard artists. These finalists will deliver unforgettable performances in front of a gala audience and a panel of judges, taking the stage in one of the world’s entertainment capitals. The winners, whose voices stand out, will have the opportunity to perform at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. We Sing Pop! seeks not only the most striking voices but also performers with charming and magnetic stage presence.

Who is eligible?

Applicants aged 4 and above are welcome to apply. The contest invites both school students and adults to participate, with no age limit for adult participants.

Application Fees

  • Solo performers: $200
  • Duo and Trio: $150/ensemble member

How can you participate in the competitions?

Apart from meeting the specific eligibility requirements for each competition, here is how you can participate in them. Note that all of the American Protege competitions follow the same process.

  • A completed online application form.
  • A YouTube (or other video sharing site) link to the video recordings of the performance.
  • A biography of the applicant in MS Word format (not exceeding 150 words), including past participation in competitions, festivals, and other public events. Additionally, a portrait photo in electronic format is required for the Competition brochure. Examples can be found in the Recital Booklet Sample.
  • The biography and photo should be uploaded with the application form or emailed to [email protected].
  • The application fee.

Important Dates

Competition Submission Deadline Decision Notification Recital Date Venue
International Piano and Strings Competition 2025 January 20, 2025 February 28, 2025 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
International Concerto Competition 2025 February 20, 2025 March 25, 2025 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal
International Competition of Romantic Music 2024 October 10, 2024 November 10, 2024 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal
International Music Talent Competition Fall 2024 November 3, 2024 November 30, 2024 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal
International Woodwinds and Brass Competition 2024 October 25, 2024 November 20, 2024 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal
International Vocal Competition 2024 June 10, 2024 June 30, 2024 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal
We Sing Pop! International Song Contest 2024 November 15, 2024 January 7, 2025 TBA Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hal

Each participant will be informed of the competition results once the Chairwoman announces the placements. Winners will have the opportunity to perform at one recital, with the date and time assigned based on their competition results.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are the American Protégé International Competitions prestigious?

Yes, the American Protégé International Competitions are prestigious. They attract talented musicians from around the world and provide opportunities to perform at renowned venues like Carnegie Hall. Highly qualified, independent judges assess the competitions, offering participants significant exposure and career advancement. The rigorous selection process and the chance to perform in esteemed settings contribute to the competitions’ high regard in the music community.

2. Will it help me boost my college admissions profile? 

Participating in the American Protégé International Competitions can significantly boost your college admissions profile. It shows your talent, dedication, and commitment to musical development, all highly valued by college admissions committees. Success in such a prestigious competition enhances your resume and helps you stand out among other applicants.

Your involvement in high-level musical competitions demonstrates that you’ve pursued your interests beyond the classroom, contributing to a well-rounded profile. Performing at renowned venues like Carnegie Hall is a significant achievement that showcases your ability to perform under pressure. The competition also offers valuable networking opportunities, connecting you with other talented musicians and professionals.

View of musical instruments placed next to each other on the stage.

Preparing for and participating in a competition of this caliber reflects your discipline, hard work, and effective time management—qualities that colleges look for in prospective students.

3. What do the winners get from the competitions?

Winners get the chance to perform at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, giving them invaluable stage experience and exposure.

For U.S. participants unable or unwilling to travel to NYC due to health concerns or other restrictions, a Competition Winner’s Package is available for a non-refundable fee of $300. This package includes online recognition, a Winner’s Certificate, a Teacher’s Diploma, four booklets with biographies and photos, and a participation Plaque Trophy. International participants can have the package shipped to friends or relatives in the U.S., as international shipping is not provided.

4. What is the acceptance rate of the American Protégé International Competitions?

The specific acceptance rate for the American Protégé International Competitions isn’t publicly disclosed. These competitions are highly competitive, drawing many talented applicants from around the world. Given the prestige and rigorous standards, acceptance rates are likely low, with only the most outstanding performers being selected to advance and potentially win.

5. Do the American Protégé International Competitions cover transportation costs during recital?

The American Protégé International Competitions do not cover transportation costs for participants attending recitals. Participants must handle their own travel and accommodation expenses. This information is usually detailed in the competition’s guidelines and policies, so review these thoroughly before planning your trip.

How can I maximize my American Protégé International Competitions experience?

Maximizing your American Protégé International Competitions experience involves thorough preparation, strategic planning, and leveraging available resources. Here are some practical tips and resources to help you make the most of your participation:

Practical Tips

  • Early Preparation: Start preparing well in advance of the competition deadline. Choose your repertoire carefully and ensure it highlights your strengths.
  • Consistent Practice: Establish a regular practice schedule and stick to it. Focus on both technical proficiency and expressive interpretation.
  • Recording Quality: Ensure your audition video is of high quality. Use a good camera and microphone, and record in a quiet environment with proper lighting.
  • Professional Feedback: Seek feedback from teachers, mentors, and peers before submitting your audition. Consider recording your performance and reviewing it critically.
  • Understand the Rules: Familiarize yourself with the competition rules, categories, and judging criteria. Ensure you meet all requirements and deadlines.
  • Stage Presence: Practice performing in front of an audience to build confidence and stage presence. This can include informal recitals or recording yourself and analyzing your performance.
  • Network: Connect with other participants and professionals in the field. Networking can provide valuable insights and potential future opportunities.
  • Health and Wellness: Take care of your physical and mental health. Proper rest, nutrition, and stress management are crucial for optimal performance.

Resources to Explore

Books

  • “The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart” by Madeline Bruser: This book offers practical advice on effective practice techniques and developing a deeper connection with your music.
  • “Stage Performance” by Livingston Taylor: A great resource for understanding the nuances of performing on stage and engaging with your audience.

Videos and YouTube Channels

  • MasterClass: Consider enrolling in classes by renowned musicians like Itzhak Perlman (violin), Herbie Hancock (jazz), or Yo-Yo Ma (cello) to gain insights from masters.
  • Josh Wright Piano: Offers tips and tutorials on piano performance, technique, and overcoming common challenges.
  • TwoSet Violin: While entertaining, this channel also provides valuable insights into violin practice and performance.

Female students smiling at the camera while in a music room.

Social Media Accounts

Instagram

  • @americanprotege: Follow the official account for updates and inspiration.
  • @violincase: Features tips and stories from professional violinists.
  • @classicalmusic: Shares performances and insights from various classical musicians.

Facebook Groups

  • “Classical Musicians Network”: A community for classical musicians to share experiences and advice.
  • “Young Classical Musicians”: Focuses on young musicians, providing a platform for sharing resources and support.

Twitter

  • @ClassicalMusic_: Tweets about various aspects of classical music, including competitions and performances.
  • @NYCMusic: Follow for updates on music events and opportunities in New York City.

Additional Resources

  • MusicNotes.com: Access sheet music for various pieces you might want to perform.
  • IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project): A free resource for accessing public domain sheet music.
  • SmartMusic: An interactive music learning software that offers practice tools and feedback.

By leveraging these tips and resources, you can enhance your preparation, boost your performance, and fully capitalize on the opportunities provided by the American Protégé International Competitions.

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