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Applications for the the 2019 Young Artist Competition will begin Summer, 2018. Stay tuned while dates get confirmed.



2017 Young Artist Competition finalists and final-round judges (from left to right):
Peter McGuire (Minnesota Orchestra Principal Second Violin), Caroline Bembia (harp), Joanna Wu (flute), Bixby Kennedy (clarinet), Osmo Vanska (Minnesota Orchestra Music Director), Zachary Brandon (violin), Dr. Paul Shaw (pianist and University of Minnesota faculty), Chelsea Lane (harp)

About the Competition
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The FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artist Competition has been rewarding and encouraging the talents of young musicians since 1956. Competitors, up to the age of 25, are judged and critiqued by professional orchestra musicians through the preliminary and semi-final rounds. The Final round is judged by Maestro Osmo Vanska, Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra.

First Prize is a solo performance opportunity with the Minnesota Orchestra and $7,500 in cash prizes. The Grand Prize, awarded at the discretion of the Music Director, elevates the first prize to a subscription series concert performance and $8,500 in cash prizes. Other prizes include performance opportunities, festivals, and monetary awards.

2017 Young Artist Competition Award Winners:
Drumroll please!…the Young Artist Competition Grand Prize winner, receiving a  subscribtion performance with the Minnesota Orchestra led by Osmo Vanska, to clarinetist Bixby Kennedy!




2nd Place: Joanna Wu, flute
3rd Place: Caroline Bembia, harp

Twin Cities Musicians Union Award: Chelsea Lane, harp
Saint Paul Civic Symphony Performance Award: 
Karen Baumgartner
Elaine Lagerstrom Memorial Award
: Zachary Brandon, violin
Mathilda Heck Award: Bixby Kennedy, clarinet
Aspen Summer Program: Zachary Brandon, violin
Madeline Island Chamber Music: Russell Houston, cello & Hannah Ji, violin

Congratulations to all of our prize winners!

Get Involved with our next competition

  • Host a Competitor: Most of our competitors come from out of town, and so we offer host family housing to help them manage their travel expenses. Hosts are responsible for transportation to and from the airport and to the different rounds of the competition. Competitors will arrive on Friday, February 3 to rehearse with their accompanists, so a piano in the home is preferred.
  • Volunteer: We have volunteer duties to prepare for the competition as well as on the days of the semi-finals and finals. Duties range from hospitality to day-of logistics (timers, runners, ushers, etc.)
  • Reserve Your Tickets: Come and cheer on the finalists as they perform for Osmo for a chance to win a solo performance with the Minnesota Orchestra!
  • Donate: We hope you will considering making a donation to help fund the prizes we provide to these talented competitors each year.

To get more information about any of these opportunities please contact us at:

How to Apply

Applications for the next Young Artist Competition  To apply please follow this link, create an account and follow the steps. If you have any questions please email them to

Past Winners

* Indicates a Grand Award

1956 Kathryn Simpson Piano
1957 James Bonn Piano
1958 James D. Johnson Piano
1959 Sanford Margolis Piano
1960 Mary Helen Schmidt Piano
1961 Mary Almjeld Piano
1962 Peter Basquin Piano
1963 Elsie Campbell Cadieux Piano
1964 Daniel Chorzempa Piano
1965 Won Mo Kim Violin
1965 Hal Blegen Trumpet
1966 Mary Kay Belanger Piano
1967 Yuko Ninomiya Violin
1968 James Taylor Trombone
1969 Nancy Pierce Cello
1970 Anne Leek Oboe
1971 Chan Hee Kim Piano
1972 Rita Knuesel Saxophone
1973 Diane Lim Piano
1974 Mark Ulmer French Horn
1975 Cara Mia Antonello Violin
1976 Neal Bolter French Horn
1977 John Mugge Piano
1978 Ick Choo Moon* Piano
1979 William Preucil Violin
1980 Frank Lee Violin
1981 Theresa Patton Flute
1982 Jo Anne Fosselman Oboe
1983 Pamela Arnstein Violin
1984 Joan DeVee Dixon* Piano
1985 Valerie Williams Percussion
1986 Karen Lee Violin
1987 Rowena Hammill Cello
1988 Sarah Kwak Violin
1989 Michael Strauss Viola
1990-91 Jon Gjesme Violin
1992 James Ehnes Violin
1993 Nicholas Cords Viola
1994 Mark Kosower* Cello
1995 Lara Saint John Violin
1996 Jeffrey Smith Percussion
1997 Scott Dasovich Clarinet
1998 Angela Fuller Violin
1999 Matilda Kaul Violin
2000 Adriana LaRosa Ramson Cello
2000 Ori Friedman Piano
2001 Wonny Song* Piano
2002 DaXun Zhang* Double Bass
2003 Lydia Hong* Violin
2004 Susie Kim Violin
2005 Nuiko Wadden Harp
2006 Andrew Staupe Piano
2007 Conor Nelson* Flute
2008 Fedor Amosov Cello
2009 Daniel Velasco Flute
2010 Jonathan Cohen Clarinet
2011 Robin Scott Violin
2012 Matthew Lipman* Viola
2015 Brannon Cho Cello
2016 Kyle Orth* Piano
2017 Bixby Kennedy* Clarinet
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