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VSO Announces New Statewide Music Competition Open to Vermont Students in Grades 6-12

Vermont Symphony Orchestra Partners with Award-Winning Film Composer Suad Bushnaq on “MasterClef”; Deadline to Submit Entries is October 12 

Multi-award-winning film composer Suad Bushnaq collaborates with the VSO on the Masterclef competition.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) announces MasterClef, a statewide music composition competition open to Vermont students enrolled in sixth through twelfth grades (or home-schooled). Young music composers are invited to riff on the melody of a new cello concerto that will make its world premiere in VSO’s October 30 concert at the Flynn in Burlington, VT, written by award-winning film composer Suad Bushnaq . This exciting musical contest is open to young music students from all genres, from classical to country, hip hop, house, EDM, pop and folk.  

“Melody is the cornerstone of music, and it can go back and forth between classical, pop, and so many other genres. The Beatles and Nas sampled Beethoven, Bruckner inspired The White Stripes, and you can hear Chopin in Radiohead,” says Elise Brunelle, VSO Executive Director. “We have an incredible opportunity with Suad Bushnaq coming to Burlington, and we can’t wait to see how Vermont students sample her music and make it their own. We’ll hear Bushnaq’s melody with a full symphony orchestra at the Flynn, but what happens when you explore that melody through a classical piano sonata, a string quartet or jam on it with a rock band?” 

The competition launches September 10 with a deadline to submit entries online by October 12. All compositions must be original works and must incorporate aspects of Bushnaq’s melody. There is no restriction on the musical genre or types of instruments used in a contest entry. All competition details, the melody of Bushnaq’s concerto, and a submission form is found at 

Entries will be adjudicated by a jury selected by the VSO with finalists announced on October 18. All finalists will be invited to Burlington, Vermont, on October 29 and 30 for a masterclass with Bushnaq, during which she will help them further develop their compositions. They will then join Bushnaq at the VSO’s October 30 concert to hear her new concerto performed live as well as a concert repertoire including music by Beethoven, Ravel, and Jessie Montgomery.  

One first prize winner will receive a $250 cash prize and a “composer’s bundle” sponsored by Phoenix Books, which will include an orchestration notebook and other helpful tools for their craft. Two runners-up will receive a $125 cash prize each as well as the “composer’s bundle.” Grand prize winner and runners-up will be announced on October 29.  

MasterClef and the VSO’s October 26-30, 2021 Playfest is sponsored by TD Charitable Foundation and Vermont Humanities. Composer’s bundle prize sponsored by Phoenix Books.