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 β€” the String Quartet Smackdown β€” 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.