There were 29 applications this year, of which 15 ensembles are invited to move forward to the Semi-Finals. It was a very, very difficult decision, and the judges conferred for hours last night.
The types of ensembles that applied this year were 9 saxophone quartets (!!), 5 woodwind quintets, 5 string quartets, 5 piano trios (pn-vn-vc), 3 piano trios (others), a brass quintet and a string trio.
The level was exceptionally high - but, looking back to the past competitions, Plowman has always been impressive. Perhaps the excitement this year also comes from the fact that this was the first time we accepted DVD recordings and kept CD as an optional format - and the performers' body language, if appropriate to the music, can be extremely powerful.
Semi-Finalist Ensembles have been contacted, and once their participation is confirmed (sometime after March 10), I will post the instrumentation of the ensembles we will be hearing LIVE in Columbia!