The Wollongong Eisteddfod will celebrate its 120th birthday next year with a NSW-first competition that will draw people from around the globe to the region.
The Wollongong International Chamber Music Competition was launched last week, with a $20,000 prize up for grabs for classical ensembles.
Eisteddfod committee chairman Tony Purdon said the looming anniversary had prompted a decision for the event to step outside its regular bounds.
"The eisteddfod started in 1894, and it was just time to do something different," he said.
"We want to open up the eyes of people here to this sort of music, and to bring in ensembles from across the world."
Applicants will submit a DVD audition, with a panel of judges to select a final 12 to travel to Wollongong in September next year to perform in three rounds of competition.
Mr Purdon said though similar events existed in other states, this would be a first for NSW.
"It lifts the profile of the area in terms of music, and recognises the anniversary and the contribution of music to the area," he said.
The competition, on September 8-13, will not be the only performances for the international ensembles.
Wollongong Conservatorium will also stage a series of pop-up concerts during the week, showcasing the talents of those musicians in unexpected places through Wollongong.
"It seemed like a waste for them to come here and not do something else," Conservatorium chief executive Andrew Snell said.
Mr Snell suggested the Crown Street Mall and Wollongong Hospital as possible places for pop-up concerts.
"Wollongong's music scene is often overshadowed by Sydney, but competitions like this around the world always seem to do better in smaller areas," he said.