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Announcing the 2016-17 Creative Reactions Contest: win $500 for creatively responding to a concert

Sep 13, 2016 | By Princeton University Concerts,
Announcing the 2016-17 Creative Reactions Contest: win $500 for creatively responding to a concert,

A contest for Princeton students dedicated to the memory of Vera Sharpe Kohn

Princeton University Concerts (“PUC”) is pleased to announce the 2016-17 season Creative Reactions Contest - a contest designed to capture the impact of classical music, as perceived by Princeton students.  The contest has two categories: one for creative writing and, for the first time this season, a visual arts category. In both categories, one prize (and up to three possible honorable mentions) will be awarded to a Princeton student who, after attending a Princeton University Concert, best captures his or her own personal experience of hearing live classical music.

Submissions can take a number of forms –blank verse, prose, poetry, narrative, even lyrics–but should be anchored by what he or she felt or experienced when hearing the concert. The participants are asked to specifically respond to one of PUC's concerts through February 14, 2017 (see “Submission Process” below). The winning piece will speak to a broad audience and will capture the essence and excitement of hearing live classical music.

Submissions in this category can take any number of forms, including but not limited to painting, drawing, graphic design, illustration, printmaking, letterpress, photography, sculpture and video.  The participants in this category are asked that their submission specifically respond to one of PUC's concerts through February 14, 2017 (see “Submission Process” below). All pieces must be submitted in a 2D form. Out of respect for other concert attendees, please note that the artwork cannot be created at the concert itself.  The winning piece will speak to a broad audience and will capture the essence and excitement of hearing live classical music.

The Frist Prize winners of the Creative Reactions Contest will each receive $500.  A smaller cash prize for up to three honorable mentions is possible, in both categories. The winning works will be widely distributed online and in print. The winning works will also be read aloud or displayed at our final concert of the season on May 11, 2017. The Prizes will be awarded by a selection committee composed of distinguished members of the Princeton faculty and the community.  Previous judges have included poet C.K. Williams, musicologist Scott Burnham and  Dorothea von Moltke. owner of Labyrinth Books.

Free concert tickets are given out based on availability so we encourage students to either register soon, or to purchase tickets online, by phone, or at the Frist Campus Center Box Office. The submission deadlines are two weeks after each concert, as listed below.

The Creative Reactions Contest is hosted by the Student Ambassadors of PUC, a small group of classical music-loving students whose mission is to increase student interest and participation in Princeton University Concerts programs.  The contest is funded by PUC.  Each year PUC presents a professional concert series featuring renowned classical musicians from all over the world. The Creative Reactions Contest seeks to further “PUC’s” mission by connecting students to the arts and celebrating classical music’s unique contributions.  The Creative Reactions Contest is dedicated to the memory of Vera Sharpe Kohn, a loyal member of the Princeton University Concerts Committee whose support and enthusiasm contributed to the health and well being of Princeton University Concerts.

To view the winning entries from the 2016 contest, click here.

The Creative Reactions Contest is open to all currently enrolled (as of September 1, 2016) Princeton University undergraduate and graduate students.


All participants must sign up to participate in the contest.  Entrants are offered one free ticket to the concert of their choosing, pending availability.  Participants are welcome to submit more than one entry on any and all of the eligible concerts; however, they must obtain their own tickets beyond the one ticket allotted by the contest. At the time of sign up, students will be asked to give their 1st and 2nd preferences for the one free concert ticket of their choice. Tickets to each event are limited and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. Due to the limited ticket availability, early sign up is highly advised. SIGN UP HERE>


The concerts that are part of the contest are as follows:

• Thursday, September 29, 9pm - AUGUSTIN HADELICH, Violin & PABLO SÁINZ VILLEGAS, Guitar – “Histoire du Tango,” Dance music of Argentina.  MORE INFO>
• Thursday, October 6, 8pm - JAMIE BARTON, Mezzo-soprano – Songs by Brahms, Dvorak and Ives MORE INFO>
• Thursday,  October 13, 8pm - BELCEA STRING QUARTET - works by Schubert & Brahms MORE INFO>
• Thursday, October 27, 8pm  - SERGEI BABAYAN & DANIIL TRIFONOV, Pianos - works by Schumann, Schubert, Brahms and Rachmaninoff  MORE INFO>
• Tuesday, November 15, 7:30pm - TAKÁCS STRING QUARTET #1* – all Beethoven * MORE INFO>
• Thursday, November 17, 8pm - TAKÁCS STRING QUARTET #2* – all Beethoven * MORE INFO>
• Wednesday, January 18, 8pm TAKÁCS STRING QUARTET #3* – all Beethoven * MORE INFO>
• Thursday, January 19, 8pm - TAKÁCS STRING QUARTET #4* – all Beethoven * MORE INFO>
• Thursday, February 9, 8pm - ESTONIAN PHILHARMONIC CHAMBER CHOIR – “Northern Lights”  MORE INFO>
• Tuesday, February 14, 9pm - COLIN CURRIE, Percussion  MORE INFO>


Augustin Hadelich/Pablo Sáinz Villegas - October 13
Jamie Barton, Mezzo-soprano  - October 20
Belcea String Quartet - October 27
Sergei Babayan/Daniil Trifonov, Pianos - November 10
Takács String Quartet #1/#2* - December 1
Takács String Quartet #3/#4* - February 2
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - February 23
Colin Currie, Percussion - February 28

*This season the Takács String Quartet will be playing all of the Beethoven String Quartets over 6 concerts.  In honor of this occasion, we will be awarding an additional prize to a visual artist who re-imagines the classical image of Beethoven.  The image will join other works commissioned by professional artists for this occasion, and will be displayed on a banner in Richardson Auditorium at the final concerts in March 2017.  For more information, contact Dasha Koltunyuk at


All submissions must be accompanied by a short paragraph that says something about the specific connection between the music and the “creative reaction,” giving the judges a sense of the process for each participant. All submissions are due by e-mail to Dorothy Shrader of Princeton University Concerts. Please put "CRC Submission [PERSONAL ID #]" in the subject line of the email and as the title of the Word document, and include the Personal ID # on the top right-hand corner of the attached document. The writing must be submitted in a Word document and should not be more than 1000 words.  Submissions will be read anonymously.  The attached written submission should not identify its author, but the body of the e-mail should contain the writer’s full name, graduation year, graduate student status, netID, personal contest ID number, and telephone number. Entrants agree to follow Princeton's honor code, detailed in the Academic Integrity Booklet.


The $500 prize, and any potential honorable mentions, will be announced at the Princeton University Concert on May 11, 2017.

For all questions, please call the Concert Office at 609-258-2800 or visit our office during business hours (10AM-4PM) in Woolworth Music Center (next to Frist), Room 301.

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