The BMI Student Composer Awards competition is for young composers of classical music. Co-sponsored by the BMI Foundation and by BMI, the awards are made on an annual basis for compositions submitted by students actively engaged in the study of music, and all works are judged under pseudonyms.
Prizes totaling $20,000, and ranging from $500 to $5,000 apiece, may be awarded at the discretion of the judges. A special award is given to the student composer whose work is judged most outstanding in the competition, and special awards are given to the two youngest winners of the competition.
Applicants must be citizens of countries in the Western Hemisphere and must be either enrolled in accredited public, private, or parochial secondary schools, in accredited colleges or conservatories of music, or engaged in the private study of music with recognized and established teachers (other than a relative). Applicants must also be under the age of 28 at the time of application.
Compositions are judged on evidence of true creative talent. Academic distinction, while not disregarded, will be considered secondary to vital musicality and clarity of expression in the composer's work. There is no limitation on style. The judges will take into account the formal content of the composition; the consistency and suitability of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic idioms for the intent of the particular composition; the suitability of the choice and use of instruments or voices to the ideas presented in the composition; and the age of the composer at the time of completion of the manuscript. When two compositions are considered of equal merit, preference will be given to the younger composer.