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34th Young Artist Competition

and Mittenthal Chair Audition

Saturday May 17th 2014

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2013 Young Artist Competiton Winners (L-R)

Finals Judge William Buchman Chicago Symphony Orchestra Assistant Principal Bassoon, An Tran (guitar) - Honorable Mention, Lauren Tu (piano) - Second Place, Will Sievern (piano) - First Place, Erika Gray (viola) - First Runner Up, Finals Judge Francesco Milioto Music Director of the SVSO, and Finals Judge Gene Pokorny Principal Tuba Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

SVSO Young Artist Competition 
About the Young Artist Competition

The objective of the competition is to help ensure the future of classical music by providing the opportunity for young musicians to hone their audition skills as well as to perform with a full orchestra. At the Young Artist Concert held in January 2003, a resolution from the State of Illinois's House of Representatives was presented to the Symphony commending the SVSO for its commitment to quality classical music and its encouragement of young musicians.

Encouraging Young Musicians

The competition is held every spring at the Northeastern Illinois University campus. The competition is open to young musicians from the ages of 16 to 22. The competition usually attracts between 60 and 75 applicants. Two winners are selected to receive a monetary award and to perform as guest soloists with the SVSO. An honorable mention will also be selected; in the event one of the two winners cannot perform, this person will perform with the Symphony.

The public is invited and encouraged to come to the finals of the competition. The finals begin at approximately 3:30 pm. Information about the competition is included on numerous web sites that list competitions throughout the country.


Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra at Northeastern Illinois University

5500 N. St. Louis Ave, Chicago, IL.


YAC Prizes

First Place - $1,200 and solo performance with the SVSO

Second Place - $800 and solo performance with the SVSO

Honorable Mention


Eligible Instruments

All Orchestral instruments, piano and classical guitar.


Application Fee

$50 not refundable fee forwarded to:

SVSO 9501 Skokie Blvd. Skokie, IL 60077


Priority Audition Times

Will be assigned if enrollment is completed prior to 15 April 2014.

Enrollment forms received after 15 April 2014 will be scheduled on a space-available basis.


Young Artist Competition ("YAC") Rules

  1. Competition is open to amateur musicians ages 16-22 as of 1 January 2014.
  2. Previous YAC Winners are not eligible to audition for YAC 2014.
  3. Contestants must play one movement of a concerto. Memorization is encouraged, but not required.
  4. Contestants must provide their own accompanist (Your accompanist must be disclosed on your enrollment form).
  5. Competition management will assign each contestant a 15 minute audition period. Judges may request any section of the concerto movement during the audition.
  6. While not anticipated, YAC finals judges may determine that none of the finalists' performances meet the criteria for the First Place Award.  In that case the SVSO Board reserves the right to not award a First Place award.
  7. It is not guaranteed that Winners will perform the pieces with which they won the YAC with the SVSO. In such cases, the SVSO Programming Committee will work closely with each winners to determine the work to be performed.
  8. Contestants are responsible for supplying the judges with three copies of the score of their piece. Photocopies are acceptable.
  9. As a condition of enrolling in the YAC, Competitors (and for Competitors under age 18, their Parents/guardians) consent to SVSO's use of competitor's name, photographic and/or video images in SVSO's publications and digital communications.


Audition Conduct

  • Preliminary rounds take place in assigned audition rooms where judges are seated behind screens.
  • Judges may stop contestants if the judges have heard enough to sufficiently rate the competitor's performance.
  • SVSO officers will announce which competitors are selected to compete in a final round at the conclusion of the preliminary round of auditions.
  • Those competitors chosen to compete in the final round will perform on stage in the auditorium with finals judges and other audience members in attendance. Friends and family members of competitors are welcome to attend the finals competition.
  • At the conclusion of all performances by finals competitors, the Finals judges will leave the auditorium to confer and reach their decisions on contest winners.


A Starting Point

Several winners of our Young Artist Competition have gone on to notable music careers, including:

  • Stephanie Arado, assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra
  • Elisa Barston, principal second violin with the Seattle Symphony
  • Karen Basrack, principal cello with the Fort Worth Symphony
  • Joseph Gramley, percussion with YoYo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble
  • Jennifer Koh, international violin soloist
  • Aimee Kreston, concertmaster of the Pasadena Orchestra
  • Isabella Lippi, concertmaster of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra
  • Amy Oshiro, member of the first violin section of the St Louis Symphony
  • Karen Pierson, bassoon with the Houston Symphony
  • Frank Rosenwein, principal oboe with the Cleveland Orchestra
  • Gary Stucka, cello with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Brandon Vamos, cello with the Pacifica String Quartet
  • Wendy Warner, international cello soloist
  • David & Timothy Ying, cello and violin members of the Ying Quartet and Grammy winners for their collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet


Harvey E. Mittenthal Chair Scholarship

The Mittenthal Chair Scholarship Audition

In addition to the Young Artist Competition, the SVSO sponsors the Mittenthal Chair Scholarship. The audition is open to string players aged 15-25. This scholarship, now in its 21st year, is named in honor of Harvey E. Mittenthal, a longtime member of the orchestra and board of directors.


The winner receives a monetary award and is required to join the Skokie Valley Symphony as a section member for the following season. This includes Thursday evening and occasional Monday evening rehearsals September through May and four to five concerts. A musician can compete for, and be awarded, both the Young Artist Competition prize and the Mittenthal Scholarship, but they are not related.

The Mittenthal competition is a separately funded and awarded competition that takes place concurrently with the YAC. Eligible contestants are amateur string players. The winner of the Harvey E. Mittenthal Chair award must agree to join the SVSO string section for the entire 2014/2015 season.


Competitors for the Mittenthal Chair Prize may concurrently compete for a YAC prize, or may compete solely for the Mittenthal Chair Prize. Enrollment on either basis is subject to a single Application Fee.


Mittenthal Chair Prize



Mittenthal Competition Rules

  1. Competition is open to amateur musicians ages 15-25 as of 1 January 2014.
  2. Contestants for this prize must audition with two contrasting selections totaling 6-7 minutes, and two standard orchestral excerpts.
  3. Contestants must provide their own accompanist (Your accompanist must be disclosed on your enrollment form).
  4. While not anticipated, Mittenthal judges may determine that a Mittenthal award may not be awarded for the 2014/2015 Season.
  5. Contestants are responsible for supplying the judges with three copies of the score of their piece.
  6. As a condition of enrolling in the Mittenthal Scholarship Fund Competition, Competitors (and for Competitors under age 18, their Parents/guardians) consent to SVSO’s use of competitor’s name and photographic or video images in SVSO's publications and digital communications.

Competition Choices