We are very pleased to announce the prize winners for our 2016/17 edition of the GroundSwell Emerging Composers Competition. The selected winners are : Frédéric Le Bel, first prize. Calum Jensen, second prize. Kristen Wachniak, third prize. Premieres of compositions by the top two prize winners will be presented by the Quasar Saxophone Quartet on March 18th at the Cluster New Music + Integrated Arts festival.

Emerging Canadian Composers Competition

Submission deadline: Friday, October 7th, 2016

GroundSwell is thrilled to partner with the Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival and Montreal’s Quasar Saxophone Quartet for the second national edition of our biennial emerging composition competition.


Emerging composers of any age from across Canada are invited to compete for the opportunity to work with Montreal’s stellar saxophone quartet, Quasar. The first place winner will receive $1,000 and a commission to compose a new work for the ensemble, to be premiered on Saturday, March 18 2017 as part of the 2017 Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival in Winnipeg, MB.


First Prize

$1,000 cash + a commission to compose a new work for Quasar Saxophone Quartet to be premiered at the 2017 Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival (March 11- 18, 2017 in Winnipeg, MB). Precise details of the new work (e.g., instrumentation, length, inclusion of electronics, etc.) will be determined following the announcement of the winners.

Second Prize Third Prize

$300 cash $200 cash


This competition is open to emerging composers of any age who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Composers are considered ‘emerging’ if they are currently studying at a recognized institution and/or in the early stages of their professional careers.

How to Enter:

To enter, please submit two recent compositions for chamber ensemble, with or without electronics. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit works that highlight writing for saxophone. For each composition, submit a score in PDF format and a live or electronic recording in wav, mp3, mp4 or AIFF format.

All entries should be submitted electronically in one email and/or as a single Dropbox / WeTransfer folder. GroundSwell will not accept hard copies.

If submitting by email, send to with the subject heading ‘Emerging Composers Competition’. In your email or cover letter, please include your full name, mailing address, phone number and the following information for your submitted compositions: title, instrumentation, year of composition and duration. Finally, please include a short bio and/or curriculum vitae (3-page max.).

Submissions must be received by Friday, October 7th, 2016.

Winners will be notified by November 15th, 2016.


Please contact GroundSwell Executive Director John Wiens by emailing:

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About GroundSwell:

Since 1991 GroundSwell has been delighting and challenging its audiences with an eclectic combination of all that is good about new music. As Manitoba’s only series dedicated to presenting contemporary music, GroundSwell has showcased diverse programming featuring everything from inspiring interpretations of 20th-century classics to exciting fusions of visual art, theatre, dance, and the written word. The Artistic Directorate is made up of Winnipeg composers Gordon Fitzell, Jim Hiscott, Michael Matthews, and Diana McIntosh. Every season GroundSwell presents exciting new worlds of contemporary performance, from local music to international works, and is proud to promote and explore the best of Canada’s diverse and vibrant new music scene.

About Quasar:

Fascinated by the music of our times, the Quasar saxophone quartet is dedicated to the creation and promotion of contemporary music. The group’s ventures include instrumental music, improvisation, and electronics. Alone or accompanied by a symphony orchestra, acoustic or plugged, Quasar offers its audience unique and deeply original programming. The ensemble has won 4 OPUS awards awarded by the Conseil québécois de la musique, including the “Artist of the Year” prize. Quasar presents a series of concerts in Montreal and performs regularly in Canada and abroad.

Since its founding in 1994, Quasar has premiered over 80 works, spanning multiple areas of musical creation. A real driving force of creative music, the quartet works closely with composers favouring research, experimentation and the emergence of new ideas. Quasar thus contributes in an exceptional way to the development of Quebec’s music while also being credited several premieres of works by foreign composers.

About Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival:

Cluster is Canada’s most dynamic take on contemporary art and sound. Presenting thought-provoking concerts and an annual core festival in Winnipeg, Cluster is a platform for artists to create, to experiment, and to collaborate. Cluster is propelled by strength found in numbers and the energy created by integrating diverse artistic communities – combining collective mentality with individual sensibility. Cluster is going into its eighth year of operation under the collective direction of Eliot Britton, Luke Nickel and Heidi Ouellette.