The 25th COS Discovery Competition

Information and application

Competition Dates: September 22, October 6, October 19, 2018

Application Deadline: September 8, 2018

Every year, one deserving COS member is chosen through a competition to perform as soloist with the YSE in the annual COS Discovery Gala Concert, sharing the evening’s spotlight with some of world’s most established concert artists at a major concert venue in New York. Past guest artists, among many others, have included Emanuel Ax, Cecile Licad, Richard Stoltzman, Soovin Kim, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Holding to its principles of “Teaching Children the Language of Music”, this competition provides students an additional incentive to learn to work towards a standard of excellence, giving them the opportunity to grow immensely through its preparation. As the 11th Discovery Winner Pamela Sundelacruz describes the experience: “...everybody that enters would like to win. But there are no guarantees. While winning the competition can serve as motivation, I think each participant needs to have another aim — a focus on improving. These two ideas are related but not at all the same. Only one person wins the competition. However, every participant can succeed in improving — whether in technique, expression, or even performance. Once he or she is determined to improve, I have no doubt that there will be positive results.”

In 1984, Artistic Director Michael Dadap and Executive Director Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma took over the directorship of COS with a vision to revive the orchestra through extensive music programs and performance opportunities. Their vision became a reality in less than five years, and their pursuit for developing a “whole musician” has attracted hundreds of children to the once eighteen-member orchestra. In 1993, as COS prepared for a concert with Yo-Yo Ma and the YSE, the Board suggested posting an ad in a major New York publication. Mr. Dadap instead convinced the Board to direct those funds toward scholarships and the launch of what would become the Discovery Competition.

Inspiration for the Discovery Competition came from the Avery Fisher career grant, which is given to artists after long observation of their dedication, performance, and focus. During the initial years of the Discovery Competition, the COS Directors nominated deserving members based on year-round performance, and a non-COS jury was invited to adjudicate. To keep pace with the growth of the Discovery Competition, the process has been refined over the years to allow every motivated student to participate, and to thus best fulfill the COS philosophy: to help children grow musically and mature as performers through this experience.

Rules and Regulations

(dates subject to change)

1.   Eligibility

  • The Discovery Competition is open to all COS instrumentalists in good standing who have had at least one year of residency at COS
  • The Junior Division is open to applicants who have not reached their 15th birthday by April 2018. There are no age requirements for the Senior Division.
  • Students entering on an orchestral instrument must be enrolled in a COS orchestra.
  • Students who wish to compete on the piano or other non-orchestral instruments must be enrolled in Chamber Music on that instrument. They must also be enrolled in an orchestra on a secondary instrument.
  • Without exception, all candidates must be enrolled in a COS program with the instrument on which they are competing.

2.            Repertoire and Memorization

  • The Competition consists of three rounds. Each round must be well-prepared to a high performance standard.
  • Musical artistry, mastery of the instrument, and presentation are the main factors of consideration.
  • Memorization of the “Concerto of Choice” is required in all rounds for Senior Division candidates. For Junior Division candidates, memorization is optional, but strongly preferred.
  • In any given round, the Jury reserves the right not to listen to a candidates repertoire in its entirety.
  • A winner of the Competition cannot compete again the following year in the same division.
  • A candidate who reaches the Final Round cannot submit the same “Concerto of Choice” the following year.


Preliminary Round – Saturday, September 22. 2018

  • The repertoire consists of two parts:

1.    Selection(s) from the list of required repertoire (see pages 4-7).

2.    Two contrasting movements, including cadenzas, from the “Concerto of Choice.” The candidate must present the same two movements in all rounds. See “Second Round” below for regulations.

  • Works selected from the list of required repertoire (first bullet above) must be different than the “Concerto of Choice” (second bullet above).
  • The Jury reserves the right to not listen to a candidate’s repertoire in its entirety.

Semi-Final Round (if needed) – Saturday, October 6, 2018

  • The repertoire is the same as that of the final-round.

Final Round – Friday, October 19, 2018

  • The Repertoire:

1.    Two contrasting movements from a “Concerto of Choice” in their entirety, including all cadenzas.

2.    A one-movement concerto or concertino, must be pre-approved by the Music Director. A candidate may also petition to compete with only one movement if it exceeds 16 minutes in length. Requests for pre-approval or petition should be submitted in writing as early as possible before the application deadline.

  • The selection must have an existing and available orchestration.
  • The Candidate must present his/her selection with an accompanist, and the accompanist must make appropriate and smooth cuts of longer tutti sections. The concluding movement must have a finishing cadence and may not end on a suspended chord leading into the next movement in attacca.
  • Memorization of the “Concerto of Choice” is required in all rounds for Senior Division candidates. For Junior Division Candidates, memorization is optional, but strongly preferred.
  • If fewer than four contestants are selected to proceed to the Semi-Final Round, it will then be announced the “Final Round.”

The Award

  • The Junior Discovery Winner will perform as the featured soloist with the YSE in a season concert. S/he will receive publicity for the concert.
  • The Senior Discovery Winner will be named the year’s Discovery Winner, receive publicity, and perform as a soloist with the YSE in the Discovery Gala Concert at a major New York City concert venue.
  • Winners and Finalists of both Divisions must perform their “Concerto of Choice” in the Discovery Recital and Awards Ceremony on Friday
  • All awardees must continue to display exemplary citizenship and present for their performances or will forfeit the title and performance opportunities.
  • The Jury reserves the right to declare “no winner” if none of the candidates display a Discovery Winner’s standard.

Application and Submissions

1.    Brief biography (in either text or point format. Please list past and current teachers, music-related activities and recognition received)

2.    A one-page essay on ONE of the following topics:

  • “My plans after the competition”
  • “Necessary steps to prepare for an audition/competition”

3.    An accompanist is required for all works where a piano accompaniment is available. It is the candidate’s responsibility to secure an accompanist.

Contact Information: Questions regarding the Discovery Competition should be directed to: