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Contemporary and Historical Judged Music Festival

Date and Place

The festival will take place on Saturday, November 11, 2023 at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, 1724 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA 22101,


Registration Deadline:  Thursday, October 12, 2023.  All fees must be paid online through new.mtfest.com by this date.

  1. Please register at new.mtfest.com
  2. Pay fee online through new.mtfest.com.  Click on Billing, then click on the $ next to the event.  Pay with Visa or Mastercard.  After payment is made, you may print a copy of the invoice for your records.  You do not need to mail anything to the Chair.  No late applications will be accepted.  All fees are nonrefundable.
  3. Non-NVMTA members have to pay the $50 fee (per student per event) plus registration fee.

Levels and Time Limits

1-3 years study*5 minutes
4-7 years study7 minutes
8 or more years study10 minutes

**This festival is not recommended for those who have studied less than a year in total.


  • Two memorized compositions: one in the contemporary idiom from the 20th or 21st century and a second piece from any other period.
  • Both selections must be played from memory, unless a piece uses non- traditional notation.
  • No simplifications, transcriptions, or popular songs allowed.
  • Contemporary settings of folk songs are acceptable, especially for beginning students.
  • Multi-movement works are allowed if they fit the time limit.
  • Impressionistic pieces must fall into one of the contemporary idioms in order to be listed as the contemporary selection.
  • Entrant will abide by all copyright laws and has permission to use all music given to judges and accompanists during all events as outlined here.

Contemporary Idioms

On the application, please substantiate that the contemporary composition reflects one of the following idioms by noting its number and letter.  For example:  1a, 2c, etc:

  1. Melody
    1. Melodies are fragmented, irregular, or disjunctive.
    2. Significant parts of the piece, or even the whole piece, lack melody.
    3. The melody is constructed by chance or serial technique.
    4. The melody is built from non-traditional scales such as modes, a scale with “blue” notes, etc.
  2. Harmony
    1. Chords are unrelated to a major-minor system—clusters, altered chords, quartal or quintal harmony.
    2. The composer makes simultaneous use of two chords or keys (bitonality).
    3. The piece is not in any definable key (atonality).
    4. Unresolved dissonance is common.
  3. Rhythm
    1. The piece or large parts of it contain no bar lines.
    2. The meter is irregular, such as 5/4.
    3. There are frequent meter or tempo changes.
    4. Cross rhythms (polyrhythms)—5 against 4, 7 against 8, etc.—are prominent.
    5. Jazz rhythms prevail.
  4. Other considerations
    1. Non-traditional notation.
    2. Knocking, tapping or plucking some part of the instrument not traditionally used in this way.
    3. Use of prepared piano.
    4. Use of extreme range on the instrument.

For piano repertoire suggestions, see Fall Festival Resource Guide.

There are also many suggestions on Nancy Breth’s Modern Piano Music list.

Here is an addendum by Laura Bogart with additional repertoire.

Here is a list of repertoire used in 2013-2018 which you may view online: Fall Festival Repertoire.


Teachers may enter as many students as desired, as long as all teacher guidelines are fulfilled. Open to all levels and to adults of any proficiency.

Teacher Guidelines

Teachers who enroll 1 to 10 students are obligated to judge for 3  hours; teachers who enroll 11 or more students are obligated to judge for 6  hours.  Teachers must be available to help in other capacities at the discretion of the chairman.

Teachers must agree to abide by the Teacher Responsibilities.


Students do not receive cumulative points as in other festivals. They receive written comments and ratings and a certificate of participation.