Merit School of Music

Barnett Chamber Music Competition

The twelfth annual A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition will be held on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Gottlieb Hall.

Applications are now closed for 2024.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

This year's Barnett Competition will be held in loving memory of Mickey Lefton, a dear friend to Merit and supporter of the annual Barnett Competition.

The twelfth annual A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition will be held on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Anne & Howard Gottlieb Hall at Merit School of Music in Chicago.

The competition is open to musicians aged 18 and under with two divisions: 

  • Strings and Piano 
  • Winds, Brass, and Percussion

Contestants will be competing for $11,000 in cash prizes. There are prizes for winners in each of the two divisions, as well as an award for the overall winner. There is also a special award for the top finishing group from Merit School of Music.

The Barnett Chamber Music Competition is free and open to the public. 

A young student plays trumpet.

About the Competition

  • Ensembles may consist of 3 to 6 musicians. 
  • Competitors must be 18 or younger on March 17, 2024.
  • A maximum of one pianist is allowed per ensemble.
  • No individual may compete in more than one ensemble. 
  • Ensemble members can perform on various instruments within the same ensemble.
  • All performances must be acoustic; no microphones or electric amplification will be allowed.
  • Ensemble division placements are made by Barnett Chamber Music Competition staff.
  • Ensembles must prepare a program of no less than 10 minutes and no more than 15 minutes. 
  • Repertoire must contain a minimum of two contrasting movements from at least two separate chamber works. 
  • Individual movements and/or stand-alone pieces must be performed in their entirety, although repeats may be omitted. 
  • Repertoire must feature all members of the ensemble in each piece. 
  • Once program information is submitted, no changes will be allowed to repertoire, performance order, or personnel. 
Competition Day


  • Ensembles must check in at least 60 minutes prior to their performance time. 
  • Competitors are required to provide one complete set of original scores as well as two additional copies.
  • Each ensemble will be assigned a 30-minute warm-up prior to their performance time.
  • A piano will be available in the warm-up room for any ensemble with a pianist.


  • Performance order will alternate by division and will be chosen by lot. 
  • Ensembles will be heard by a three-member jury. 
  • Ensembles are allotted a total of 20 minutes on stage, which includes set-up, performance, breaks between pieces, and tear-down.  Any performance which exceeds this time limit, or which does not meet the above repertoire requirements, will be subject to disqualification at the discretion of the judges. 
  • Winners will be announced via email, as well as posted on this webpage and Merit’s social media.

The Barnett Competition awards a monetary prize to the top ensemble of the competition, as well as to the 1st and 2nd place winners within each division. Monetary amounts are to be determined, and this page will be updated when more information is available.

  • The Barnett Chamber Competition Grand Award: $5,250 (Includes $2,250 Division prize)
  • Strings and Piano Division Winner: $2,250
  • Strings and Piano 2nd Place: $1,000 
  • Winds, Brass, and Percussion Division Winner: $2,250
  • Winds, Brass, and Percussion 2nd Place: $1,000 
  • Merit School of Music Ensemble Award: $1,500 

2024 Competition Results

Strings & Piano Division: Honorable Mention

Quartet Meraviglia, The Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago

Winds, Brass, & Percussion Division: 2nd Place

Lake Central Saxophone Quartet, Lake Central High School

Strings & Piano Division: 2nd Place

Trio Fiammifero, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory

Winds, Brass, & Percussion Division: 1st Place

The Bone Rangers, Merit School of Music

Strings & Piano Division: 1st Place

Seraphim Quartet, The Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago

Barnett Chamber Competition Grand Award Winner

Seraphim Quartet, The Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago

Merit Ensemble Award

The Bone Rangers, Merit School of Music

Enter the Competition

Applications must be received no later than February 29th, 2024.There is an entry fee of $100 per ensemble. Payment is being collected by credit card through Signup Genius. Should you need to pay another way, please contact the competition manager, Brian Beach


For questions, please contact competition director Brian Beach.

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