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THE CREATIVE REACTIONS CONTEST - dedicated to the memory of Vera Sharpe Kohn

Hosted by the Student Ambassadors of Princeton University Concerts

Princeton University Concerts (“PUC”) is pleased to announce the 2019–20 season Creative Reactions Contest a contest designed to capture the impact of listening to live classical music, as perceived by Princeton University students. This year's contest, limited to drawing entries only, asks participants to visually capture their personal experience attending a Princeton University Concerts event. Participants will be given a free ticket to attend an eligible event or events of their choice, including the more traditional Concert Classics recitals, the intimate Performances Up Close format with the audience seated on stage, and non-concert programming including Live Music Meditations and the annual Chamber Jam.

A prize of $1000 will be awarded to a Princeton University student who creates an artwork that vividly conjures what it is like to attend a Princeton University Concerts event. Honorable Mention(s) of up to $250 may be distributed at the discretion of the jury.

The winning entry(ies) will be announced and publicly displayed at the final performance of Princeton University Concerts’ 2019–20 season on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Princeton University Concerts may incorporate the winning entry(ies) in future print and online materials.


Engaging with Music: About the Creative Reactions Program

It all started in February 2015, when over one hundred undergraduate and graduate students signed up for the first ever Creative Reactions Writing Contest. Conceived by the Student Ambassadors of Princeton University Concerts, this writing contest gave students a free ticket to attend a Princeton University Concert in the legendary Alexander Hall, in return for a creative written response to the performance—and a chance to win a cash prize. The wonderfully diverse group of submissions brought together judges from many corners of the Princeton community, including professors in the Creative Writing Program and Music Department, the owner of Labyrinth Bookstore, and long-standing community audience members.

The enthusiastic response to this novel initiative made clear that students were eager to extend the concert experience beyond the walls of Alexander Hall, and to share their passion for or curiosity about music with the community at large. Princeton University Concerts (PUC) has developed the Creative Reactions Program in order to provide such an opportunity to all Princeton University students. While continuing the Creative Reactions Contest on an annual basis, now expanded to include other art forms, this program will also present various other means through which students will be able to harness their creative talents in their engagement with music on campus. This includes a student-designed and student-written season brochure, opportunities for writing to be included in printed programs, and more.


2019 Contest


Prize not awarded


First Prize Winner ($500)

Crystal Liu '19 - "It's Just Llike the Water: A Lyric Essay on Art and Faith" inspired by Gustavo Dudamel's residency.


2018 Contest

To see the winning submissions, click here.


First Prize Winner ($500)

Samuel Sebastian Cox ’18 - "Untitled" inspired by the Tenebrae Choir


First Prize Winner ($500)

Sang Lee ’18 - "A Couple of Fiddles" inspired by "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy"

Honorable Mentions ($100)

Diana Chao '21 - “Gaita (Gal)ega,” inspired by gaita player Cristina Pato
Xin Rong Chua GS -  “Interlude,” inspired by "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy"
Jason Molesky GS  - “Tempest” inspired by violinist Jennifer Koh


2017 Contest

First Prize Winners ($500)

Anna Leader ’18 "love songs between balconies" inspired by Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton
David Ting '17, "El barrio(lage) desconocido” inspired by pianist violinist Augustin Hadelich & guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas

Honorable Mentions ($125)

Isabella Bosetti ’18 - “Translation/Aphasia,” inspired by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Xin Chua GS -  “The Future Age,” inspired by the Takács String Quartet
Kirit Limperis ’19 - “With the Percussionist,” inspired by percussionist Colin Currie


2016 Contest

First Prize Winners ($500)

Anna Leader ’18,  "Untitled," inspired by the Arcanto String Quartet
David Ting '17,  "Journey Between Worlds," inspired by pianist David Greilsammer 

Second Prize Winners ($250)

Magdalena Collum ’18, “Ritual, in four parts,” inspired by pianist Igor Levit
Emily Tu ’16, “Voice,” inspired by pianist Igor Levit


2015 Contest

First Prize Winner

Susannah Sharpless ’15, "Space and Time," inspired by violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Anna Polonsky

Second Prize Winners

Trevor Klee ’15, “Untitled,” inspired by pianist Marc-André Hamelin
Lucas Mazzotti ’17, “Untitled,” inspired by the Brentano String Quartet and Joyce DiDonato

Honorable Mention

Benjamin Goodman ‘17, “Piety,” inspired by pianist Marc-André Hamelin
Rachel Stone ‘17, “In B-flat,” inspired by Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” played by violinist Stefan Jackiw and Anna Polonsky