Announcing the 2017 winners!

Read short bios of the winners here.

About the Competition

The UNCG School of Music Student Artist Competition provides an annual forum for exceptional student performers to audition for the opportunity to appear in concert with the University Symphony Orchestra. Auditions typically take place in December, awarding performances on concerts scheduled between the following spring and fall semesters. Three to four student winners are normally selected for this honor.

The audition process involves two steps:

  1. A preliminary round, administered by each area of the performance department (keyboard, voice, woodwind, brass/percussion, and string)
  2. A final round, administered by the area of conducting and ensembles

The final round will take place on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in the UNCG Recital Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The finals are open to the public.

Competition Philosophy and Format

The philosophy of the Student Artist Competition is:

  1. To offer students the opportunity to appear as soloists with orchestra in the performance of full or partial concerti, arias and other short works on regularly scheduled concerts of the University Symphony Orchestra.
  2. To present outstanding School of Music students to the public in a program in which diversity is desired, but excellence in performance is the basic requirement.

The competition will occur in two rounds:

  1. The Preliminary Round, scheduled and administered by each area within the Department of Music Performance. Students should talk to their studio teacher and/or area coordinator about specific area requirements.
  2. The Final Round, on January 23, 2018, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Up to 15 total auditionees, selected during the preliminary round, will advance to perform in the finals.


  • Scheduled by individual areas (keyboard, voice, woodwind, brass/percussion, string), must be completed no later than December 6, 2018.
  • Memorization requirement is at the discretion of each individual area.
  • Performance proficiency requirement is at the discretion of each individual area (151-751).
  • No more than 3 students from any area will be advanced to the finals.
    3 Keyboard 3 Voice
    3 Woodwind 3 Brass & Percussion 3 Strings
  • • The format for the preliminary round and criteria for advancing students to the final round is at the discretion of each individual area.
  • • Each area will independently determine if they desire a balance between graduate and undergraduate representatives in the final round.


  • Thursday, January 23, 2018, beginning at 5:30 p.m. – Recital Hall
  • Advertised and open to the public
  • Students will perform for up to 15 minutes in order to present complete works or movements, or samples of multiple movements.
  • Limited to a total of 15 participating students, representing their respective areas.


  1. The audition order will be determined at random, so finalists must be available for the entire block of time. Exceptions may be made due to extenuating circumstances. Special requests for times must be communicated to the conductor by the application deadline.
  2. One original copy of the solo part must be provided to the audition committee. If available in the UNCG music library, an orchestral score should also be provided.
  3. Each performer and accompanist should report to the audition site at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled audition time. Performers should dress appropriately.
  4. If a soloist or accompanist is late, the audition will be cancelled and the next performer will be called. Rescheduling the audition is at the discretion of the audition committee.
  5. If the chosen work is longer than the audition time allows, the finalist may select to perform a portion of the work as a whole, or excerpts from the entire piece.
  6. Vocalists may choose repertoire from either literature designed for concert performance with orchestra, or operatic arias. Selection of repertoire should be done in consultation with the studio professor.
  7. A soloist may win a performing slot only once during his/her career at UNCG.
  8. An impartial committee of UNCG School of Music faculty members, plus one member from outside the School, will serve as adjudicators. The conductor of the University Orchestra will serve as an advisor to the committee.


Questions about the viability of repertoire choices should be brought to the conductor in advance of the preliminary round. If a student wins a performance slot with a piece that is impractical for the orchestra to perform, or that has been performed by the orchestra within the past 3 years, he/she may be asked to perform an alternate work. Due to programming considerations, winners may be asked to perform more or less of a given work (i.e. one movement of a multi-movement work). Pieces may not be more than 20 minutes in duration. The conductor of the work may or may not be the faculty conductor of the orchestra. The conductor, in consultation with the student and studio teacher, will make final programming decisions.


A total of two winners will be selected from the Final Round. In an effort to diversify and improve the educational experience for students enrolled in the Orchestra and competition winners, one performance will be scheduled for May 2018 and the other during Fall 2018. Graduating students will be given scheduling preference for the April 2018 concert.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018, beginning at 5:30 p.m. – Music Building Recital Hall


  • Monday/Wednesday: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Rm. 111
    Friday: 2:00-2:50 p.m., Rm. 111


  • Dress rehearsal: April 23, 7-10 p.m.
    Concert: April 24: 7:30 p.m.


Elena Flores, soprano (MM)
Grand Prize Winner
Gaetano Donizetti – “O Luce di Quest’anima” from Linda di Chamoanix
Student of Prof. Clara O’Brien

Emily Loboda, saxophone (DMA)
Paul Creston – Concerto for Alto Saxophone
Student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Colin McDearman, piano (MM)
Felix Mendelssohn – Capriccio Brillant
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis


Kelsey Paquin, clarinet
Grand Prize Winner
Scott McAllister – Black Dog
Student of Dr. Anthony Taylor and Dr. Kelly Burke

Lydia Pion, soprano
Antonín Dvorák – “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka
Student of Clara O’Brien

Mengfei Xu, piano
Sergei Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis


William Hueholt, piano (sophomore)
Grand Prize Winner
Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16
Student of Dr. Joseph DiPiazza

Justin Worley, tuba (DMA)
Strauss – Concerto No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 11
Student of Dr. Dennis AsKew

Jessica Johnson, mezzo-soprano (MM)
Ravel – “Asie” from Shéhérazade
Student of Dr. Robert Bracey


Mark Cramer, clarinet – Grand Prize Winner
Premiere Rhapsodie, Claude Debussy
student of Dr. Anthony Taylor

Jeremy Harris, piano
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, mvmt. 1, Seregi Rachmaninoff
student of Dr. John Salmon

Jourdan Laine Howell, soprano
“Eist traumte menier sel’gen Base” from Der Freischutz, Carl Maria von Weber
student of Dr. Robert Wells


Anna Darnell, clarinet – Grand Prize Winner (junior)
Concerto for Clarinet, John Corigliano
student of Dr. Anthony Taylor

Xin Gao, saxophone (DMA)
The Upward Stream, Russell Peck
student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Ryan Silvestri, violin (MM)
Violin Concerto, Piotr I. Tchaikovsky
student of Prof. Marjorie Bagley


Jason Wallace, saxophone – Grand Prize Winner (DMA)
Escapades for Saxophone and Orchestra, John Williams
student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Michelle Ayres, soprano (DMA)
Ah! Perfido, Ludwig van Beethoven
student of Prof. Clara O’Brien

Stephanie Greco, violin (MM)
Violin Concerto, Dmitri Shostakovich
student of Prof. Marjorie Bagley


Wei Jiao, piano – Grand Prize Winner (DMA)
Piano Concerto No. 1, Piotr I. Tchaikovsky
student of Dr. Andrew Willis

Joann Martinson, soprano (MM)
“Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide, Leonard Bernstein
student of Dr. Robert Bracey

Julie Smith, flute (MM)
Flute Concerto, Carl Nielsen
student of Dr. Deborah Egekvist

Cicilia Yudha, piano (DMA)
Piano Concerto in G, Maurice Ravel
student of Dr. John Salmon