Vermont Symphony Orchestra

MasterClef 2021

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is excited to announce #Masterclef, a music composition competition for middle- and high-school students in grades 6-12. The competition is in partnership with the multi-award-winning Suad Bushnaq, a Jordanian/Canadian composer, who will join the VSO in Burlington in October 2021 for the world premiere of her new cello concerto for orchestra.

Students of all musical genres — from classical, pop and rock to indie, house and beyond — and any musical instrument are invited to arrange and perform new songs based on the melody of Bushnaq’s concerto.

Selected finalists will join Bushnaq in Burlington on October 29 and 30 to workshop their music and attend the VSO concert featuring Bushnaq’s concerto at The Flynn. One grand prize and two runners-up prizes will be awarded.

Learn more about Suad Bushnaq.


Students enrolled in a Vermont middle or high school, or homeschooled, in grades 6 through 12, as of September 1, 2021. 


  • One grand prize winner will receive a $250 cash prize and a “composer’s bundle” (including an orchestration notebook and other helpful tools for their craft) sponsored by Phoenix Books.
  • Two runners-up will receive a $125 cash prize each as well as the “composer’s bundle” sponsored by Phoenix Books.

Submission Guidelines

The application and submission deadline is Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The submission must be a piece of music no less than 1 minute and no more than 3 minutes long, in which the five-bar MasterClef theme by Suad Bushnaq is used. We invite you to transform this theme in any way you like, as long as we can still recognize that what you have composed is derived from it.

Student compositions may be written for any musical instrument or group of musical instruments, in any musical style or genre and in any language (if words are used). 

Student must complete the online application form below and compositions must be submitted by uploading an audio file below (not a video file) of either:

  • A recording of a live performance of the composition, or 
  • A midi file of an electronically-produced performance of the composition.

Judging and Announcement of Finalists

Finalists will be decided by a jury selected by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. 

Finalists will be announced publicly and informed in writing on October 18. Though a composition may be performed by any number of musicians in a group, no more than two people per composition will be invited to Burlington for the October 29 masterclass and October 30 concert. 

For finalists who are not located in driving distance from Burlington, VSO will provide housing in Burlington for the nights of October 29 and 30; minors must be accompanied by an adult. 

Masterclass and Concert 

The masterclass in music composition will take place on October 29, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Contois Auditorium in Burlington with composer Suad Bushnaq and accompanist Randal Pierce. The masterclass will be open to the public and may be recorded; no advance registrations are required. The first-place winning composition and runners up will be announced at this event. All young musician finalists (and their accompanying adults, if any) will be provided with tickets to the VSO concert at the Flynn on October 30 at 7:30 p.m. 


Proof of full vaccination (the physical card or a photo) or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours is required for attendance at MasterClef events. All attendees must also wear a mask while inside any venue where MasterClef activities take place. Children who are ineligible to be vaccinated will be allowed to enter and need to wear a mask.


Please submit your composition via email to Patricia Jancova, VSO Education Coordinator, at Include your name, school, grade level, phone number, the title of your piece, and any information you would like us to know about your piece. 


Contact Patricia Jancova, VSO Education Coordinator, at 

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

disability access symbol information whiteFor program accessibility accommodations, please contact the VSO office at 802-864-5741 or