Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition

Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition

The Results of this Year's Competition will be announced at the end of February.
Thank you for your patience. 

Ruth Watson Henderson

About Ruth Watson Henderson and the Competition         
One of Canada's foremost musicians, Ruth Watson Henderson is renowned internationally both as a composer and pianist. Her works are acclaimed, performed, and recorded worldwide. The Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition was established in 1996 to recognize Ms. Watson Henderson’s invaluable contribution to the art of choral music. Ms. Henderson is very pleased to encourage the contribution to Canadian choral music that the competition provides, and appreciates the work of Choirs Ontario who administers this program.

The Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition is a biennial contest for new choral works with categories alternating between pieces for treble voice choirs and pieces for mixed voice adult choirs. The competition exists to provide Canadian composers with the opportunity of contributing to Canada’s rich choral tradition through the writing of original choral works. The winning entry receives a premiere performance with one of the Ontario choirs and a cash award of $2,000.00. 

Next Composition Application Deadline is November 2019 (SATB Composition)

  • The composition must be an original work for SATB choir 4 – 6 minutes in length. It may be a cappella or accompanied by piano.
  • Texts may be sacred or secular and can be in languages other than just English and French (languages that would be familiar to most singers are preferred). The text must be either original or known to be in public domain, or not currently under copyright but with written permission of the copyright holder. In this case, a copy of the written permission must be submitted with the entry.
  • All submissions must not have been previously commissioned, published or performed and must have been composed within the last two years.
  • Arrangements of previously composed works are not acceptable.
  • The composer shall retain the copyright of the work.
  • Previous competition finalists re-applying must submit a different piece each year.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Entries should be sent to (electronic submissions are preferred, but if you wish to submit your application by mail, please send it to Choirs Ontario office - 626 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M5S 2R1).
    Electronic payments can be made via e-Transfer to
  • Scores must be postmarked no later than November 1, 2019.
  • More than one entry may be submitted, but each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry form and a fee of $25.00 (CDN).
  • Four clearly legible copies of the score must be submitted (if submitting via mail). Scores will not be returned. Electronic (pdf format) submissions are preferred and only one copy is needed in that case. 
  • The composer's name must not appear on any score.
  • The Award winner will be announced in March 2020. Performing choir will be announced at a later point. 


Composers must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents currently residing in Canada. There is no age limit.

Click here for an entry form.







Composition Title

2015 Jason Jestadt Scarborough, ON At Night the Valley Dreams of Snow

Matthew Emery

Vancouver, BC

Sweetest Love, I Do Not Go
(Honorable Mention)
no winner selected

2011 Elise Letourneau Orleans, ON Ave Maria
2009 Michael Cutler Winnipeg, MB We Are the Music Makers
2007 Lavinia Kell Parker Rochester, NY White Lights in Darkness
2005 Jennifer Bennett Sydenham, ON Wynken, Blunken, and Nod
2005 Martha Hill Duncan Kingston, ON Star Prayers
2005 Stella ter Hart Bobcaygeon, ON Ode to the Pig
2002 Allan Bevan Calgary, AB Peace
2000 Benjamin Bolden Kingston, ON   
1998 Leonard Enns Waterloo, ON Missa Brevis
1996 Mark Sirett Kingston, ON Two Songs of Innocence