NATS Art Song Composition Award

Now an annual award!

art_song_logo_2019.jpgNATS offers a cash award, plus a performance of the winning composition at a NATS Conference, to the composer of the winning song cycle, group of songs, or extended single song. Competition is open to any composer whose submitted work meets the prescribed requirements, and who pays the competition entry fee. 

Printable flyer

"The purpose of the Art Song Composition Award [formerly the Vocal Composition Award] program... is to stimulate the creation of quality vocal literature through the cooperation of singer and composer."
—Carol Mikkelsen, NATS Art Song Composition Award Coordinator

Lori_Laitman_-_David_Conte_-_web_crop.jpgPictured at the NATS 2016 National Conference are
Lori Laitman, Art Song Composition Award benefactor,
and David Conte, winner of the 2016 Art Song Composition Award.


View past performances of Art Song Composition Award winners.




The work must be:

  1. a song cycle, group of songs, or extended single song of approximately twenty minutes in length (13-25 minutes acceptable);
  2. for single voice and piano;
  3. to a text written in English, for which the composer has secured copyright clearance (only text setting permission necessary);
  4. composed within the last two years (after Jan. 1, 2016).


Cash prizes generously sponsored by American composer Lori Laitman:

  • 1st place - $2,000 plus the composer's expenses ($500 airfare reimbursement plus hotel) to the 55th NATS National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 22-26, 2018, where the premiere performance of the winning composition will be given.
  • 2nd place - $1,000


Each entry is $30 for professionals; $15 for full-time students (payable in U.S. funds to NATS).


Entries must be received through the NATS online portal no later than Dec. 1, 2017.


All applications for the Art Song Composition Award are submitted electronically.

Application portal will be open later this year.

The following are required material for entry:

  1. A PDF copy of the vocal-piano score(s). Copy must be neat, legible and clearly edited; manuscript pages must include: [a] composition title; [b] poet's name; [c] person or agency granting text setting permission; and [d] length and date of composition. THE COMPOSER'S NAME SHOULD NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE ON THE SCORE.
  2. A digital recording of composition(s). Recordings may be performance or working quality, but must be with voice and piano. Titles of compositions only must be on recordings.

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Carol Mikkelsen at .

Apply for Art Song Composition Award

Past Art Song Composition Winners

2018 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

Benjamin C.S. Boyle for Spirits in Bondage, based on the poetry of C.S. Lewis and arranged for Baritone and Piano (Read More)

2017 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

Matt Boehler for Foursquare Cathedral (Read More)
Poems by Todd Boss


  1. Ruin
  2. My House is Small and Almost
  3. The Wallpaper
  4. What Yesterday Appeared a Scar
  5. Another Hand

Click here to listen to the audio recording.


2016 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

David Conte for American Death Ballads  

  1. Wicked Polly
  2. The Uniquet Grave
  3. The Dying Californian
  4. Captain Kidd

Click HERE, or below, to watch the performance video. Click HERE to read the program note.

2014 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

Robert Patterson for American Pierrot: A Langston Hughes Songbook

Performed July 7, 2014 at the National Association of Teachers of Singing National Conference in Boston. Sung by Robert Wells, Allen Henderson and Tod Fitzpatrick, with collaborative pianist Michelle Beaton.

2012 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

Melissa Dunphy for Tesla's Pigeon

A performance of the winning piece of the 2012 NATS Art Song Composition Award, "Tesla's Pigeon" by Melissa Dunphy, performed by Collen Gray, soprano, and Nanette Solomon, piano. View the text on the official Tesla's Pigeon website.

2010 Art Song Composition Award Winner:

David Sisco for Missed Connections (Text from

Please enjoy the performance of the winning composition of the 2010 Art Song Composition Award, with an introduction of the winning composer, David Sisco, by Carol Mikkelson. Missed Connections is performed by Elizabeth Mondragon and accompanied by Dr. Andrew Adams. You may view this video at

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