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SAVVY Chamber Competition

The 2016 SAVVY Chamber Competition seeks ensembles that feature artistic excellence and innovative event design.

The Chamber Music Competition is sponsored by the University of South Carolina in collaboration with Chamber Music America.


To encourage and reward innovation and artistry in the field of chamber music.

Criteria defined

Artistic excellence entails extremely high level playing and programming.
Innovative event design means anything that stretches or expands the traditional concert format:
•    Particularly compelling thematic programming
•    Meaningful interdisciplinary connections
•    Unusual performance practice
•    Multi-media
•    Choreography
•    Outstanding audience engagement
•    Costuming
•    Theatrical elements
•    Other innovations.


Three to four chamber group finalists travel to Columbia, SC to compete in the final round competition on June 6, 2016.

Finalists are awarded:
•    Chance to compete for grand prize award
•    Possible performance on SAVVY Musician in Action showcase at the 2017 Chamber Music America national conference
•    Featured performance in Columbia, SC, at a city-wide arts event
•    Participation in professional development event designed to help winning groups achieve greater success
•    Full tuition scholarship to attend The SAVVY Musician in Action

In addition, the first place winner receives:
•    $3,000 cash prize
•    Trial management with Nancy Christensen, with option to negotiate extended relationship
•    A paid 3-5 day residency at the University of South Carolina in spring 2017
•    Free, one-year membership to Chamber Music America


•    Any instrumentation or genre
•    2-6 players preferable (larger groups possible)
•    Student, emerging and established groups welcome
•    Interdisciplinary groups welcome
•    Minimum age: 18
•    Previous first place winners are not eligible to apply
•    Ensembles must be tour ready, with:
      a.    An ensemble website
      b.    Promo shots
      c.    The ability and desire to tour

To apply

Apply online by submitting:
•    Entry form (eliminate all references to ensemble/performer names). Entry forms are viewable only by an administrator. 
•    Audio recordings of three contrasting works
•    Titles and durations of works proposed for an innovative 25-minute event (including transitions) you hope to present
•    Essay of up to 300 words describing the proposed event and what makes it innovative (because submissions are blind, this document is crucial)
•    $40 entry fee ($20 for Chamber Music America members)
•    Application deadline: February 15, 2016



For the first blind round, a panel of judges will weigh:
1.    Quality of performance demonstrated on recording
2.    Compelling program proposed
3.    Innovations described in essay
Semi-finalists will be invited to conduct an interview via video conferencing. They will also have the opportunity to share additional content such as websites and video footage.

From this pool, finalists will be invited to compete in Columbia, SC, for the top award on June 6, 2016. All members of finalist ensembles are required to attend the full SAVVY Musician in Action session (June 7–12), and will be awarded FULL scholarships. Payment of $250 Meal/Supply fee required.

The grand prize winner will be announced on June 12, 2016 during The SAVVY Musician in Action Arts Venture Challenge.


Click here for entry fee payment. Click here to register.