The Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) was founded in 1956 by music critics as a service organization to promote high standards and ensure the future of classical music criticism in the press of the Americas. MCANA provides a communication network among critics through annual conferences, educational institutes, an association website and an online journal, Classical Voice North America. The organization also provides programs for professional development.


Each year MCANA holds a conference in a different city, offering members an opportunity to interact in lively panels and discussions with colleagues as well as to attend world-class performances at events including the Lincoln Center Festival and Charleston’s Spoleto Festival to the Santa Fe Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


MCANA Institutes are arranged in connection with significant musical events — often, festivals or premieres — throughout North America. The three- to four-day Institutes offer backstage views of the workings of arts organizations and music festivals and provide the participating critics opportunities to review performances. Institute activities include meetings with directors and artists, social gatherings and panel discussions. Some Institutes also feature MCANA’s popular “Nuts and Bolts” sessions, in which seasoned critics offer advice to newer members who wish to submit reviews for evaluation. In the past, Institutes have been held in connection with the Ravinia and Blossom festivals, the Los Angeles Opera, the Gilmore Piano Competition and the Banff Centre. MCANA Institutes are made possible by a variety of philanthropic sources; participating critics may be provided travel, accommodation and meals.

“I joined MCANA a few years after I began writing about classical music because it sponsored a seminar on new music that was of interest to me. Now I enjoy being able to ‘give back’ to our profession, and discuss industry news with colleagues I’ve met at the annual meetings.”

Barbara Jepson, Wall Street Journal



* ANNUAL CONFERENCE – Meet your fellow critics and editors face to face for three days of symposia, panel discussions, social events and performances.
Press tickets are provided to members for official performance events during annual conferences.

* WEBSITE – Keeps you up to date with breaking news and the latest information on conferences and institutes.

Professional Development

* INSTITUTES – Members have the opportunity to travel to music festivals and major musical events and get a behind-the-scene look at an arts institution.
Upcoming institute opportunities are announced to members through MCANA’s newsletter and web site.

* NUTS AND BOLTS – Hands-on writing workshops bring emerging critics into close contact with some of the finest music editors and writers in our field and offer a chance for professional development.

Advocacy and Voting Privileges

* As a member of MCANA, your voice is heard and you have full voting privileges in electing the members of the board of directors. Members are encouraged to become involved by serving on committees or running for office and participating in conferences, symposia and educational institutes.

* The MCANA is the only organization that represents the interests of critics of classical music and is an advocate for the art of music criticism. By becoming an MCANA member, you strengthen the field.

Discounts on Resources

40% off

“As editor of, I find MCANA a good source for writers and story ideas. MCANA’s annual meeting is an invaluable time to catch up with colleagues from all over the country, to compare notes, to get a sense of where our profession is headed (for better or for worse). It’s also an opportunity to witness first-hand musical events most of us wouldn’t otherwise get to attend. The institutes are equally valuable: I attended the National Conductors’ Institute in DC facilitated by MCANA. I found it fascinating and it became the subject of several articles.”

Susan Elliott,




“Membership in MCANA has been an essential link to other music critics throughout the continent – an opportunity to exchange news and information (i.e. gossip), to expand my professional horizons, and simply to get to know people. It makes me feel that I’m not doing this in a vacuum.”

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Admissions Criteria

Critics, journalists, editors, book authors, scholars, commentators, bloggers, broadcasters and annotators who cover classical music with reasonable frequency in media available to the public are welcome to apply. Please send an application with a professional resume and work samples for review by the Membership Committee. The Membership Committee may periodically review the work of members to confirm that their output continues to meet the admissions criteria.

Annual Dues

Active critics, journalists, editors, book authors,
program annotators and retired MCANA Members – $125

Student Members – $50