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The Lakeland Civic Orchestra Young Artists Competition offers the opportunity for pre-college instrumentalists and signers to compete for the chance to perform as a soloist in the upcoming academic year with the Lakeland Civic Orchestra. There are two categories: junior, age 13 and under, and senior, age 14-18. We welcome auditions from anyone under the age of 18, see below for more information.


To provide a learning environment that fosters musically aesthetic literacy and expressive capability through the cultivation of musical techniques and skills and the exploration of creative traditions and possibilities.

Competition Information

All instrumentalists and voice students with appropriate repertoire are allowed to audition. Auditions are judged in two categories: ages 13 and younger, and ages 14 and older. 2021-22 winners performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2, and Listzt's Piano Concerto No. 1. These pieces will likely not be programmed again in the near future.

Studio Limit

Each teacher is allowed to bring a maximum of two (2) students from their studio.

Scheduling an Audition

Auditions will take place in person in the Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center on Lakeland's campus on Monday, May 16, 2022 between 5-9 p.m. Schedule your audition by completing the Young Artist Competition form here.

Technial Guidelines
  • Bring three copies of the score for the piece you will be playing for the judging panel.
  • The length of the audition is limited to twelve (12) minutes.
  • Begin by stating your name and the title and composer of the piece you are performing.
  • You must perform with an accompanist.
  • The judging panel will only determine winner(s) and runner(s)-up in each division and will not provide written comments or other feedback.
  • The piano for auditions and performance is a Steinway Model D.
Audition Information

Audition on the piece you intend to perform with the orchestra; that is, a concerto or other work for soloist with orchestral accompaniment. You may perform contrasting movements or one whole movement, whichever you feel best displays your abilities, but the entire length of your audition may not exceed 12 minutes, including your spoken introduction. Make cuts as necessary in longer pieces so that your performance as soloist is emphasized—the committee does not need to hear long orchestral sections without the soloist.


Accompanists are required for the audition. You must provide your own accompanist. 


Winners will be notified by May 31 of the given year and will be asked to perform with the Lakeland Civic Orchestra in November, March, or April of the following academic year.

young artist competition sign up


Throughout its more than 80-year history, the Lakeland Civic Orchestra and its precursor organizations have sought out and presented performances by rising young artists. After a hiatus, a formal Young Artists Concerto Competition was revived by director Kathryn Harsha in 2000, with auditions judged by a panel consisting of the orchestra directed and judges drawn from Northeast Ohio university music faculty and professional musicians. Recent winners include:

  • 2021, Richelle Shi (senior division), Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1, performance 3/6/2022
  • 2021, Rosabelle Shi (junior division), Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 2, performance 3/6/2022
  • 2021, Moshi Tang (senior division), Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, performance 11/7/2021
  • 2020, Competition Cancelled
  • 2019, Maude Cloutier (senior division), Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, performance 3/8/2020
  • 2019, Julia Schilz (senior division), Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, performance cancelled
  • 2018, Jason Zhang (senior division), Grieg: Piano Concerto, Mvt. 1, performance 4/28/2019
  • 2018, Moshi Tang (junior division), Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto No. 3, performance 3/10/2019
  • 2017, Ania Lewis (senior division), Lalo: Cello Concerto, performance 4/29/2018
  • 2017, Laura Schilz (junior division), Saint-Saens: Cello Concerto No. 1          , performance 3/4/2018
  • 2016, Peishe Lu (senior division),  Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3, performance 4/30/2017
  • 2016, Elizabeth Huang (junior division), Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole, performance 3/12/2017
  • 2015, Julia Schilz (junior division), Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 2, performance 5/1/2016
  • 2015, Brandon Wang (senior division), Elgar: Cello Concerto, performance 4/3/2016
  • 2014, Maggie Niekamp (senior division), Barber: Violin Concerto, mvt. 1, performance 3/1/2015
  • 2014, Christina JiHee Nam (junior division), Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, performance 3/1/2015
  • 2013, Liliana Garlisi (senior division), Grieg: Piano Concerto, Mvt. 3, performance 3/2/2014
  • 2013, Ji Hoon Paul Woo (junior division), Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1, Mvt. 1, performance 3/2/2014
  • 2012, Tong Li (senior division), Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 2, mvt. 1, performance 3/3/2013
  • 2012, William Wang (junior division), Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto No. 3, Mvt. 1, performance 3/3/2013
Meet the Director

Matthew Saunders Dr. Matthew C. Saunders has taught music from kindergarten to college in styles from madrigal to mariachi, and strives to make beautiful music for and with captivating people. He has climbed mountains, saved someone's life, and watched the moon rise over the prairie. He has loved, lost and loved again; helped friends find salvation, and found it for himself as well; taught genius students, and learned from genius teachers. His dreams are to walk on Mars, hear a grand piano fall into an orchestra pit, make more people laugh than cry, and love his wife Becky passionately and forever. He plays trombone and is always getting better at playing piano, and in the course of a long, love-filled, productive life, he wants to compose the Great American Symphony, ride the rails, hike the trails, read all of the good books, finally watch "The Godfather," and storm the castles in the air. He will never write unlistenable music, stop stargazing or lose money in Vegas. He doesn't call his mother often enough, but he still tries to do a good turn daily. He is always up for a few hands of euchre or a good game of chess, likely winning the former and losing the latter.

Dr. Saunders is professor of music and music department chair at Lakeland Community College, where he teaches courses in music appreciation, popular music, music history and first-year experience, and directs the Lakeland Civic Orchestra. Prior to coming to Lakeland in 2012, he held the position of associate professor of music and director of bands at Oklahoma Panhandle State University from 2007 to 2012. He received degrees in music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and The Ohio State University. Dr. Saunders studied composition with Donald Harris, Thomas Wells, Jan Radzynski and Wes Flinn, and trombone with Joseph Duchi and Tony Chipurn. His 20 years' experience in music education includes teaching band; general music; and music theory in public elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges and universities, in rural, suburban and urban settings in Ohio, Georgia, and Oklahoma.

Dr. Saunders' original compositions have been performed across the country, including performances at national conferences of the National Flute Association, the International Horn Society, the Society of Composers, and the College Music Society. He has presented his research at conferences of the College Music Society, the Society of Composers, the Oklahoma Music Theory Roundtable, and the Aspen Composers Conference. His works for large ensemble have been performed by the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra (Columbus, Ohio), the Marquette (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra, the Southwest Florida Youth Orchestra, the New Music Guild Festival Orchestra, the University City Symphony Orchestra (Missouri). They have also been performed by the orchestras of Florida Gulf Coast University and Westminster College, and the bands and wind ensembles of The Ohio State University, Kansas State University, West Texas A&M University, Kutztown University (Pennsylvania), Dennison University (Ohio), Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Garden City (Kansas) Community College, and Sinclair Community College (Ohio). Locally, his works have been performed by the Lakeland Civic Orchestra, the Lakeland Civic Band and at Lorain County Community College. He has collaborated on original compositions with members of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and faculty members from South Dakota State University, University of Minnesota at Morris, Minot State University (North Dakota), Eastern New Mexico State University, New Mexico State University, and Eastern Illinois University. He performs as a trombonist, and was featured soloist in the premiere of his concert piece for trombone and wind ensemble "Homo sapiens trombonensis," and presented the first complete performance of his epic unaccompanied trombone work "Twenty Views of the Trombone" in Atlanta, Georgia, in February 2017, after performances and premieres of portions of the piece in New York City; Norman, Oklahoma; Aspen, Colorado; and Cleveland (at both MOCA Cleveland and for the Cleveland Composers Guild). In Northeast Ohio, Saunder's works have been performed by the Blue Streak Ensemble and the Gruca White Ensemble, the Chamber Music Society of Ohio, the Solaris Wind Quintet, and Oberlin Choral Spectrum. He received the 2007 Ruth Friscoe Prize for composition, was the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association 2011 Commissioned Composer, and is a five-time recipient of the ASCAP Plus Award. He was elected to membership in the Cleveland Composers Guild in 2012 and has served as secretary since 2015. Dr. Saunders' compositions are published by Imagine Music and, and he has written articles for "The Journal of Band Research," "Music Educators Journal," "The Chronicle of Higher Education," and "The Instrumentalist." He is on the web at, but the physical Dr. Saunders lives in Willowick, Ohio, with his wife Becky and their children Noah and Melia.

Staging Enabled