Golden Hornet's Sixth Annual String Quartet Smackdown

In its sixth year, String Quartet Smackdown is a bracketed, tournament-style competition bringing original string quartet compositions head-to-head in front of a live, participatory audience. It’s like NCAA March Madness for the ears!

Each Fall, composers of every experience level from around the globe are invited to submit through an open, fee-free entry process. Following submission, a diverse panel of judges selects sixteen compositions as finalists to move on to the live performance — the String Quartet Smackdown — which takes place in February every year at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX.

A professional string quartet performs the sixteen pieces LIVE, in front of a two hundred person audience, broken into four rounds:

Round 1 (Round of 16): One minute of all sixteen pieces
Round 2 (Quarterfinals): Two minutes of eight pieces
Round 3 (Semi-finals): Three minutes of four pieces
Round 4 (Finals) : Full four minutes of two pieces

The audience uses their cell phone to vote, their responses appear live on screen, and the winner of each bracket moves on in the tournament! In a riotous - and usually very close - finish, the audience determines the champion!

ALL sixteen finalists receive a professional studio recording of their piece, and the winner takes home a grand prize of $1,500.

Though styles and techniques can vary, compositions must be written for traditional string quartet. Pieces must be exactly 4 minutes in length, give or take only a few seconds. If shorter or longer, your piece does not qualify and would either suffer in performance or be cut off before completion. Your submitted work can be brand new, or a selection from a previous or longer work, SO LONG AS it is original -- you must be the author of the work and maintain the rights to the music. If pulling a selection from a longer piece, please update the score to provide only the appropriate four minute portion, properly edited for this purpose. We strongly suggest that you prepare the score and parts with great care and detail, as your your ability to communicate with the quartet directly will be limited.

Submit your piece at

1 Dec 2019
U.S. Dollar (USD)