Vermont Symphony Orchestra

MasterClef Competition 2022

Masterclef, a music composition competition for middle and high school students in grades 6-12. Applications open September 1, 2022 Deadline October 1, 2022

From right to left:

Jeremiah Stewart, Callum Robechek, Maaike Dam, Matt LaRocca,* Jonathan Kafumbe, Matthew Evan Taylor,* Randal Pierce*



The VSO is proud to announce the 2022 MasterClef winners!


Grand Prize:

Maaike Dam, 11th grader from Kirby

“From Light…Despair!”


Second Place:

Callum Robechek, 11th grader from Montpelier

“trying to wake up”


Third Place:

Jonathan Kafumbe, 9th grader from East Middlebury



Honorable Mention:

Jeremiah Stewart, 12th grader from Burlington

“To Leave the Earth Behind”


A warm congratulations to all our applicants and finalists.



MASTERCLEF 2022 is generously supported by Pat Robins and Lisa Schamberg, and





The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is excited to announce our second annual MasterClef Competition for Vermont students in grades 6-12. The competition is in partnership with Vermont composer Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor, who will join the VSO in Burlington in October for the world premiere of his work from despair… Light! for chorus and orchestra.

Students of all musical genres — from classical, pop and rock to indie, house and beyond — and any musical instrument or voice are invited to arrange, perform, compose, produce or improvise a new work based on a selected melody from Taylor’s piece.

Finalists will join Taylor in Burlington on October 28 and 29 to workshop their music and attend the VSO concert featuring from despair… Light! at The Flynn. Cash prizes will be awarded to one grand prize winner and two runners-up.

Learn more about composer Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor 

Submission guidelines, deadlines and examples are provided below.


All students enrolled in a Vermont middle or high school, or home–schooled, in grades 6 through 12, as of September 1, 2022.  


  • One grand prize winner will receive a $300 cash prize and a “composer’s bundle” (including an orchestration notebook and other helpful tools for their craft).
  • Two runners-up will receive a $150 cash prize each as well as the “composer’s bundle.” 


The deadline for submission is Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 11:59pm.

The submission must be an audio recording no less than 1 minute and no more than 3 minutes long, in which the MasterClef theme by Matthew Evan Taylor 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 created is derived from it.

Click here for this year’s MasterClef theme

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

A complete application includes three parts: 

  1. Completed application form | Click here for application form
  2. Audio recording, to include either
    • A recording of a live performance of the composition, OR
    • An electronically-produced audio file of the composition (e.g. MIDI, .wav, etc)
  3. Supporting materials to explain your process and the musical work.  You must include at least one of the following, whichever is most relevant to your work: 
    • A PDF of your musical score if one exists, and/or
    • A process statement describing how you created the work, and/or
    • Another format of your choice that is suitable for your work and describes its creation

Please include parts 2 and 3 as attachments to one email, sent to no later than Oct 1, 2022 at 11:59pm.


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

Finalists will be announced publicly and informed in writing on October 15, 2022. Finalists and their parents/guests will be invited to Burlington for the October 28 masterclass and October 29 concert.  One grand-prize winner and two runners-up will be announced on-site at the conclusion of the Oct 28 masterclass.

For finalists who are not located within driving distance of Burlington, VSO will provide housing in Burlington for the nights of October 28 and 29; minors must be accompanied by an adult. 


The masterclass in music composition will take place on October 28, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Contois Auditorium in Burlington with composer Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor and a panel of respondents. 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 29 at 7:30 p.m. 


Submit your composition and supplemental materials via email to Hannah Hansen, VSO Education Coordinator, at no later than Oct 1, 2022 at 11:59pm.  Please be sure you have also completed the Application Form.


We welcome and encourage applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and musical interests.   Here are a few examples of what is possible.  We look forward to hearing what you create!

Composer Kwaku Darko (and a VSO summer intern!) composed three short examples in different styles, derived from another theme in from despair… Light!



Contact Hannah Hansen, VSO Education Coordinator, at

For program accessibility accommodations, please contact the VSO office at 802-864-5741 or