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Since 1946, the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego has held a yearly competition for instrumentalists and vocalists. Competition winners have demonstrated extraordinary education, prodigious talent and skill.
Many former winners are currently studying in prestigious universities and conservatories, or performing professionally in symphonies and opera companies throughout the world.


After World War II it was clear that the momentum of serious music study had been halted by pressing wartime concerns.

To remedy this, The Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego was incorporated in 1946 with sixty-two charter members. The corporation was an outgrowth of a group known as the Musical Merit Society, headed by Harvey Louis Jr. Mrs. Ralph Hastings was Founding President.  By 1996, the Foundation had awarded more than $250,000 to over 260 winners.

In the spring of 2009, a generous bequest from George Trovillo and William Graham nearly tripled Musical Merit Foundation's endowment, allowing an increase in awards starting with the 2009 auditions. Trovillo and Graham were long-time Musical Merit members and extensively involved for several decades in preparing vocalists for the auditions. As a result of their gift, since 2010 the Musical Merit Foundation has been able to extend scholarship monies among qualified finalists who do not place in the top awards.

Through the generosity of one of the members of The Musical Merit Foundation, a scholarship has been established at the Aspen School of Music in Colorado. The first place winner of the final auditions is entitled to attend the nine-week summer session with full tuition, room and board included.

This scholarship is presented in addition to the monetary award and further audition is not required by Aspen School of Music.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego is to discover, encourage and present young music students of exceptional talent.


The Foundation raises funds to provide scholarships to those students who show exceptional musical talent and who pass preliminary and final auditions and evidence exceptional talent.

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