Regulations and instructions

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) is pleased to present the Sixth Edition of the Palestine National Music Competition. It is the only national competition covering all of Palestine, awarding prizes for Solo Instrument Performance, Piano Duet, Arabic Singing, Composition and Ensemble Playing.


The Competition will be held at the Edward Said National Conservatory (ESNCM) in Jerusalem and Ramallah and at the Yabous Cultural Center in Jerusalem. West Bank competitors who are unable to enter Jerusalem because of Israeli military restrictions will compete through video-conferencing from the Conservatory’s Ramallah and Gaza Branches.


Competition Sections


I – Solo Instrument Performance:

1-   Arabic Instruments (Oud, Qanoun, Buzuq, Nay, Oriental Violin)

2-   Piano

3-   Guitar

4-   Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass)

5-   Winds: Woodwinds and Brass (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone, French horn, Tuba)


II – Piano Duet.

Pieces must be performed by two players on one piano.


III – Ensemble Playing:

Any genre of music is permitted.

Groups must be of minimum three players performing on acoustic instruments without amplification (no

voice, no electric or electronic instruments).


IV - Arabic Singing.


V – Composition (Marcel Khalife Young Composers’ Award).


Competition Age Categories



I - Solo Instrument Performance:


Category A:                 up to age 10 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2009)

Category B:                 up to age 14 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2005)

Category C:                 up to age 17 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2002 )

Category D:                 up to age 22 (date of birth on or after 05/04/1997)


II – Piano Duet

Category A:                up to age 16 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2003)

Category B:                up to age 30 (date of birth on or after 05/04/1989)


III - Ensemble Playing:

Category A:               up to age 16 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2003)

Category B:               up to age 30 (date of birth on or after 05/04/1989)


 IV - Arabic Singing:

Category A:                 up to age 10 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2009)

Category B:                 up to age 16 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2003)

Category C:                up to age 30 (date of birth on or after 05/04/1989)


V - Marcel Khalife Young Composers’ Award:

Category A:                  up to age 18 (date of birth on or after 05/04/2001)

Category B:                  up to age 40 (date of birth on or after 05/04/1979)








1st  Prize

2nd Prize

3rd  Prize

Solo Instrument



















Piano Duet









Ensemble Playing









Arabic Singing













Marcel Khalifeh Young Composers’ Award











Competition Regulations


1-  The competition is open to any Palestinian musician (and including Syrians from the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights) within the age ranges specified above. Competitors can participate in their age category or in any higher age category.

2 -  Applicants may not compete in more than one age category for any given section,.

3 -   1st prize winners in any age category of previous editions of the competition are not allowed to compete again in the same age category but may participate in a higher age category if it exists.

4 -   Solo Instrument Performance and Piano Duet sections: Each instrumentalist or pair must play two pieces: one Set Piece determined by the ESNCM ( and one own-choice Piece (see criteria in point 5 - below).

5 -   Each group performing in the Ensemble Playing section must play only one piece of their own choice (see criteria in point 5 - below).

6 -   The chosen pieces should not exceed the following time limits:


        • Solo Instrument Performance:

              Category A:    4 minutes

              Category B:     6 minutes

              Category C:     8 minutes

              Category D:    10 minutes

        • Piano Duet:

Category A: 5 minutes

Category B: 8 minutes


Ensemble Playing:

Category A:    5 minutes

Category B:     8 minutes


Note: A penalty of 2% (two percentage points) will be applied to candidates/groups performing an own-choice piece of a duration exceeding the above limits. The performance may also be stopped by the Jury when it exceeds the limit by more than one minute.

6-   Singers should sing two songs from lists provided by the ESNCM (

7-   In the Ensemble Playing and Piano Duet sections each musician may not perform in more than one group.

8-   Accompaniment: The ESNCM only provides accompaniment for the Arabic Singing section. Any other

accompaniment required must be provided by the competitor. A piano will be available in each of the locations where candidates will perform.

9-   Three prizes are given for any performance category with at least 6 participants. The jury panel may decide not to assign the 1st prize if the level of all the participants is unsatisfactory.

10- The Conservatory has the right to remove a category, or to decide not to assign all the prizes if there are fewer than 6 participants for that category.

11- For age categories with more than 11 participants - in any section of the Solo Instrument Performance section - there may be a first round of selection based on the performance of the compulsory piece. Half of the players will be selected for the second round (if there is an odd number of participants in the first round, the number of competitors going to the second round will be half of the next higher even number). For age categories with more than 25 participants the jury has the right to request a third round, in which 10 competitors will be chosen to play either one of their pieces. 


Regulations for the Marcel Khalife Award for Young Palestinian Composers


1.         Category A of the competition is open to any Palestinian musician whose age does not exceed 18 years old. Category B of the competition is open to any Palestinian musician whose age does not exceed 40 years old.

2.         The compositions must be for a minimum of three acoustic instruments (including the human voice as an option).

3.         The compositions may be in any genre.

4.         The duration of the pieces should be:

Category A: between two minutes and six minutes.

Category B: between three minutes and eight minutes.

5.         Competitors must complete the online application form at no later than 30 January 2020. The composition must be attached in PDF format, in addition to either a recording of the piece (MP3 or YouTube link) or a MIDI file.

7.         Only one prize will be awarded for each age category.

8.         The winners will be announced during the Awards Ceremony on 4 April 2020.

9.         The winning composition may be performed by professional musicians during the Awards Ceremony.

10.       Submitted compositions may be the result of collaboration of more than one musician.




All applications must be submitted online at, attaching all required documents.


1-         All applicants should submit their application by 30 January 2020.

2 -        Together with the application, competitors should attach:

  1. A passport-style personal photograph
  2. A clearly scanned copy of their birth certificate or ID
  3. A clearly scanned PDF copy of the score of their own choice piece (for solo instrument and piano duet categories). N.B. If the own choice piece is changed after the application deadline, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide the jury with the new score (3 copies) on the day of the competition.
  4. Application fee (50 shekels), payable at any branch of the Bank of Palestine, or by bank transfer (see for details). The application fee must be received by 30 January 2020.


3-         The Conservatory has the right to reject any application presented after the deadline.


4-         Applicants to the Arabic Singing section must attach to the application a voice recording of one song (MP3/ YouTube link). A special ESNCM committee will select the competitors on the basis of the recordings and publish their names on the ESNCM social media accounts and the PNMC website ( in February 2020. Only those selected competitors will take part in the live competition on 29th / 30th March 2020.


5-           The set pieces for each Solo Instrument section and the Piano Duet section and the lists of songs for the Arabic Singing section can be found on the competition website,


6-         Each competitor should use the edition of the set piece provided by the Conservatory.


7-         The Conservatory may nominate a special musical committee in Gaza to select participants for the video-conferencing from there.



The juries:


  1. The judges for this Competition are highly-qualified experienced musicians carefully chosen by the conservatory.
  2. A jury member must not be the music teacher of a competitor in his/her section.
  3. The jury is made up of at least three musicians for each of the competition sections.
  4. Marking for the Solo Instrument, Piano Duet, Ensembles and Arabic Singing sections: Each judge will give a mark out of 100 to each candidate. Those marks will be announced at the end of each age category round and the average will be calculated, constituting the candidate’s final mark.
  5. If the jury is composed of 5 members or more, the highest and lowest mark will be discarded and the average of the remaining marks will constitute the final mark.
  6. The three best singers of the Arabic Singing section, Category C, will have a final round of competition during the Final Concert, when the jury will award the final prizes.
  7. The Jury’s judgment is definitive and unchangeable.




Awards Ceremony - Final Concert


The prizes will be given during a special Final Concert to be held at the Ramallah Cultural Palace on 2 April 2020.



  • The Conservatory reserves the right not to award the prize to any winner who does not attend the Final Concert.
  • Prize winners of instrumental Categories (Solo, Piano Duet and Ensembles) may be invited to perform in the Final Concert.
  • Prize winners in Category A of the Arabic Singing section may be invited to perform either of the two songs they presented for the Competition.
  • All performers should wear appropriate formal clothing for the event.