Young Artists Competition

Young Artists Competition:

Click Here to Complete the Online Application 

Applications due Monday, May 7th, 2018

Final Recital: Saturday, September 29th, 2018, Colonial Theater, Idaho Falls

Winners Concert: Saturday, April 27th, 2019, Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium

December 20, 2017: The Idaho Falls Symphony is proud to announce the details of our 2018-19 Young Artists Competition. Thanks to generous sponsorship, we are now offering prize money totaling $1,000 for the Senior Division Winner and $500 for the Junior Division Winner. The application process has moved completely online, with video recordings on YouTube serving as the preliminary round. 

Rules & Guidelines for the Young Artists Competition (Updated for 2018-19):

• Residency requirement: Applicants must be legal residents of Idaho, or students attending high school, college or university in the state of Idaho.
• Junior Division: Students aged 18 or younger as of September 1st, 2018.
• Senior Division: Students aged 19 or older (but not older than 24) as of September 1st, 2018.

CHOOSING REPERTOIRE: Only one movement of a standard concerto (or equivalent selections not exceeding fifteen (15) minutes in total duration) should be prepared. Instrumentalists and vocalists will be considered in the same pool. The repertoire must feature the soloist with standard symphony orchestra accompaniment. The selection(s) must be published and available through reliable commercial sources. The repertoire for the application must remain the same through subsequent rounds. For the application, memorization is encouraged but not required.

MAKING THE FINALS: Students who advance through the first-round application will be asked to perform in the Final Recital on September 29, 2018, in the Idaho Falls Colonial Theater. Only live performances of the Final Recital will be considered. Memorization and piano accompaniment are required for the Final Recital. Rehearsal time with an accompanist will be arranged on the day of the Final Recital. Pianos will be available, but all other instrumentalists will be required to furnish their own instruments.

PRIZES FOR WINNERS: Prizes of $1,000 and $500 will be awarded to the Winners of the Senior and Junior Divisions, respectively, upon completion of the final performance with orchestra. Winners will be selected based on performance in the Final Recital, and the results will be announced immediately at the end of the recital by a panel of professional judges. There will be up to one winner selected from each division. The Symphony reserves the right to have no winner in one or the other (or both) categories. The winners will perform live with the Idaho Falls Symphony on a subscription concert in April 2019, which will require up to four (4) days residency in Idaho Falls. A recent headshot and updated biography will be required of the winners for press and advertising purposes.

TO APPLY: Submit a high-quality, live recording via YouTube by Monday, May 7th, 2018. The live recording and application will serve as the Preliminary Round of the competition. Videos should be uploaded directly to YouTube, with video settings adjusted to “Private,” requiring a link to view. The link should be provided along with the electronic application. All application materials must be received no later than Monday, May 7th, 2018. Early applications are encouraged.

APPLICATION FEE: An application fee of $40 is due by May 7th with the application form. The fee covers competition expenses and is non-refundable. Please pay online when you submit your application. You should receive a confirmation email of your payment.


Application information collected with Google Forms and PatronManager. Call our office for technical assistance.

Previous Young Artists Competition Winners:


Lauren Avondet SMALLER h500Lauren Avondet Anderson, violin - 2016 Senior Division Winner 

Lauren is currently pursuing a master’s degree in violin performance at Brigham Young University studying modern and baroque violin techniques under Alexander Woods. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the same school in April of this year. Lauren started violin at age six. While attending Idaho Falls High School, Lauren took lessons from Emma Rubinstein and attributes her dedication and love for the violin to her. During this time, she served as concertmaster of the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony and the Idaho Falls High School Orchestra. After graduating from high school, Lauren attended Interlochen Arts Camp on a full scholarship. While at BYU, Lauren has played with the BYU Philharmonic and has served as concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra and Baroque Ensemble, where she was also featured as a soloist. Lauren and her husband Logan live in Provo, Utah, and have one daughter.



Matthew Decker SMALLER h500Matthew Decker, piano - 2016 Junior Division Winner

At age 15, Matthew is the son of Karl and Marie Decker. He is the youngest of six brothers and one sister. Matthew is a sophomore at Idaho Falls High School, where his favorite subjects are math, history and band. He has studied piano for eight years, first with Virginia Willard and now Stephen Thomas. Matthew has performed in IFMC Festival for seven years, and six years in EIMTA Sonatina/Sonata Competition, receiving five 1st Place awards and one 1st Alternate Honorable Mention. Matthew won 1st Place in IFMC Scholarship Competition Junior Division (2015) and 1st Place in IFMC Scholarship Competition Senior Division (2016). He has won three IFMC scholarships with which he attended Summer Piano Camp at Utah State University and BYU Summer Music Camp. He also placed 2nd Place in the Intermediate II Division at the Musicians West Competition. Matthew plays trumpet in IFHS band, was selected for a Regional Honor Band, Gem State Honor Band and Allstate Honor Band (2016). He has really enjoyed being a part of the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony for two years where he loves to play piano and trumpet. Besides music, Matthew enjoys baseball, basketball, and snowboarding. He has constructed and flown radio controlled airplanes. He loves to fly and hopes to get a pilot’s license. 


ChrisYoung2014 242x350-w350Christopher Young, cello - 2014 Senior Division Winner

Christopher Young, cello, grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he began his cello studies at the age of 8 with Janet McIntosh. He attended Skyline High School to study with Dr. Robert Tueller of Brigham Young University - Idaho. For his senior year of high school, Christopher attended Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan, where he studied with Crispin Campbell and served for several concert cycles as principal cello of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. In April 2010, he was honored as a National Merit Scholar, and he graduated from Interlochen with summa cum laude honors.

While in Idaho, Young served as principal cello in the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, and in 2009 performed the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto in the youth symphony’s concerto competition. That same year, he also was invited to participate in an inter-northwest honors orchestra conducted by Gerald Schwarz at MENC’s All-Northwest Music Conference.

Chris went on to major in Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, where he was a Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar and a member of the Stamps String Quintet, Class of 2014, coached by faculty mentor Ross Harbaugh. The Stamps String Quartet performed classic and contemporary string quartet repertoire, tangos, jazz-inspired works, and more. Chris Young also performed in the Frost Symphony Orchestra, Frost Opera Theater and the Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, as well as chamber groups throughout the South Florida region. He studied privately with Ross Harbaugh.

As a member of the Stamps Strings Quartet at the Frost School of Music, Young performed in a Texas Music Educators Clinic in San Antonio, the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar in New York City, and the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy. He has collaborated with artists Alexander Markov, Mark O’Connor, Pavel Vernikov, Eli Matthews of the Cleveland Orchestra, and hip-hop producer Chip Williams.

Upon graduating from the Frost School of Music, Christopher Young was awarded a scholarship to pursue a Master of Music degree at the University of Michigan, studying with Richard Aaron. Currently, Christopher is playing a cello made by Christopher Dungey, on loan from the Art and Patricia Van Dyck Cello Library.


sarah close9383 color-w350Sarah Close, harp - 2014 Junior Division Winner

A native of Eastern Idaho, Sarah began playing the harp at age five and won her first state music competition at age eight on a small 22-string lap harp with an original composition. As she and the harps have grown together, she has gone on to win many local, regional and state competitions. These include winning twice at the competitive Sun Valley Summer Soloist Competition where she was selected to perform at the famous Pavilion, The Idaho Falls Youth Symphony Concerto Competition and honors from the Upper Valley Music Teachers Association.

Sarah has been named the principal harpist for the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, the State level Sun Valley Summer Youth Orchestra and the National level Young Musicians Summer Festival in Utah. An active soloist, she has performed for many functions in Eastern Idaho, Boise, and Park City, Utah and for such award-winning, international artists as Jenny Oaks Baker, Michael Ballam, Janice Kapp Perry, Mindy Gledhill and 24 different conductors since the age of twelve.

Her current teacher is Dr. Alicia McQuay, Principal Harpist of the Idaho Falls Symphony and Professor of Harp at BYU-Idaho. Sarah has studied summers with International Harpists Dr. Carrol McLaughlin, Distinguished Professor University of Arizona, Gretchen Van Housen, Principal, Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra, and Professor at Carnegie Mellon/ Duquesne Universities, Heidi Gorton, Principal, Toronto Symphony and has been part of Juilliard’s precollege program.

 A believer in giving back, Sarah has taken her harp to volunteer for many non-profit organizations, care centers, and hospitals. She has been recognized by the highest level of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award twice, The Congressional Award and The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. At age 16, she is a sophomore in High School and a member of the National Honor Society.


Annie Brown 300Annie Brown, piano - 2012 Junior Division Winner

Annie was raised in a music-filled home, where she immediately connected with great musical literature. She began her formal training at age 7 on both piano and violin, and ultimately chose piano as her primary emphasis. Now age 16, Annie has been a frequent winner of local, regional, and state piano competitions. She placed first at the Upper Valley Music Teacher's Association Scholarship Competition in 2011 and 2012, first in her division at the Musician's West Piano Competition in 2010 and 2011, and she won top prizes at the Eastern Idaho Music Teacher’s Association Competition in 2010 and 2011. Not only does Annie relish live classical performances, but she also loves to serve others through music in her church, her community, and in her family.  Annie has been violin Concertmaster of the Madison High School Orchestra and currently plays violin with the Rexburg Tabernacle Orchestra. She works at Ferguson Music Company and teaches piano performance in her own studio. After graduation from high school, she plans to major in piano performance. Annie currently studies piano with Cheryl Hansen and is a former student of Jacquelin Shaw.


Stephen Busath

Stephen Busath, percussion - 2012 Senior Division Winner

Stephen Busath is a 23-year-old senior studying Music Education at BYU-Idaho. He is originally from Elk Grove, California. Stephen started a music program in the 7th grade and began serious study in the 11th grade. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in New England, speaking Spanish, before serving another mission in Illinois and playing for the Nauvoo Brass Band. Stephen is the youngest of five coming from a family full of people in the performing arts.


Claire_TuellerClaire Tueller, piano - 2010 Junior Division Winner

Claire began formal piano study at age five, although spent many hours at the keyboard years earlier with storybooks as her music. Now age 17, she is a frequent winner of local, regional and state piano awards. In 2009, she won the Idaho Music Teacher's Association Senior Piano Competition held in Boise. She received top prizes in multiple divisions of the USU Piano Festival in 2009 and 2010, takin gfirst place in both Late Romantic and Contemporary genres. She won Upper Valley Music Teacher's Association scholarship auditions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She took first place in her division at the Musician's West Piano Competition in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and received first place finishes at the Eastern Idaho Music Teacher's Association Sonatina Festival in 2003, 2004 and 2006. She currently studies with Professor Gary Amano, Director of Piano Studies at Utah State University. Former piano teachers include Cheryl Hansen and Joan McGann. Claire loves playing piano, loves studying with Professor Amano and loves attending piano camp more than any other summer activity. When she isn't practicing piano, she also plays cello, sings in her high school choir and ballroom dances. She plans to major in Piano Performance after graduating from Madison High School in May. 

Jessica Cooley, violin - 2010 Senior Division Winner

Jessica_CooleyJessica began violin at an early age, making her impromptu debut while standing atop a refreshment table at her first violin teacher's wedding. Her childhood love of music continued to grow as she performed concerts with her seven siblings for community and church events. Jessica participated in the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, and later became a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony. Jessica is currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree in violin performance at Miami University of Ohio where she serves as a graduate assistant, concertmaster of the Miami University Symphony Orchestra, a member of the graduate octet, and a teacher in the Virginia Pearce-Glick Young Musician's Program. Jessica received her bachelor's degree in violin performance, graduating summa cum laude from Brigham Young University-Idaho. While attending BYU-Idaho on scholarship, Jessica acted as the concertmaster of the BYU-Idaho Sinfonietta and was a first violinist in the BYU-Idaho Symphony, Chamber, and Baroque Ensembles. Jessica has had the opportunity to perform in master classes for Eli Matthews of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, for the New York Chamber Soloists, and for the Cavani, Shanghai, and Ying Quartets. Jessica's teachers have included Judy Fletcher-Davis, Shannon Packer, Monte Belknap, Ted Ashton, and Emma Rubinstein. She is currently a student of Dr. Harvey Thurmer. In addition to performance, Jessica has received teacher training in Suzuki and other pedagogy methods. She has maintained an active teachering studio since 2004. Jessica also has a passion for history, physics, chemistry, camping and travel.


Kristina Willey, Viola – 2008 Winnerkristina-willey

Kristina began music lessons at 18 months, on a 32nd size violin/viola; she now studies viola with Dr. Kevin Call at BYU-Idaho on full music scholarships as a Music Major with an emphasis in Viola Performance; former teachers include Dr. David Dalton, Dr. Claudine Bigelow, and Dr. Irene Peery-Fox on piano. A native of Pleasant Grove, Utah, she has won first prize three times in the Utah State Fair, soloed with the Utah Symphony in 2003, and was featured on the national radio program "From the Top" in April 2005. Kristina is a missionary in the Orchestra at Temple Square, was twice principal violist of Utah's All-State Orchestra and Annenberg Debut Symphony in Malibu. She was Utah's Emersen Scholarship winner at Interlochen Arts Camp in 2004. She also participated for 2 years in the Disney Young Musicians' Symphony Orchestra, in the National High School Honors Orchestra, and won the Utah Symphony Youth Guild Competition three times. Kristina is a trained Suzuki violin/viola teacher, and enjoys teaching her students, ages 4-12. Kristina also enjoys drawing, reading, and writing. Kristina performed the Walton Viola Concerto with the Idaho Falls Symphony on February 28, 2009.

Zina Heningway, Soprano – 2006 Winner

Emily Nelson, Cello – 2005 Winner


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We are proud and honored to have been part of the Idaho Falls community since 1949. Our mission to perform the world’s great music continues thanks to our dedicated team of musicians, our generous sponsors, and the tireless volunteers that make up the Symphony family. 

In consideration of our patrons and artists, children must be age six to attend performances of the Idaho Falls Symphony.

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