Young People's Concerto Competition

Finalists, all prizewinners, of YPSCA’s 2021 Competition

Dennis Eum takes top honors at YPSCA’s 64th Annual Concerto Competition

Due to the pandemic, this year’s Competition was held virtually. Videorecorded performances by our eleven Finalists were shared with Competition judges, students’ families & teachers, and YPSCA members via YouTube on March 20, 2021. Cellist Dennis Eum, age 15, won the Competition with a brilliant performance of the fourth movement of Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto No.1 in E Minor. His top prize award includes a performance with the Minnesota Orchestra at a future Young People’s Concert and a cash prize of $2,000 from the Edwin & Edith Norberg Fund. Dennis, who lives in Edina, studies cello with Mina Fisher of Minneapolis and attends The Blake School.

In addition to the top honor won by Dennis Eum, each Finalist received at least one award:

  • Orion Kim, 15, piano, won the Edwin Norberg Award
  • Ingrid Tverberg, 17, cello, won the Edith Norberg Award
  • Dennis Eum, 15, cello, won the Claire Givens Violins Award
  • Jacob Taggart, 14, piano, won the Schmitt Music Award
  • Grace Weitzel, 15, violin, won the Margaret Ankeny Award
  • Clara Belle Wrolstad, 15, piano, won the Bonnie & Donn McLellan Award
  • Stephen Ma, 17, violin, won the Mariellen Jacobson Award
  • Tasha Piyabongkarn, 15, piano, won the Karen Lundmark Holmes Award
  • Aurora Wang, 15, piano, won the David Colwell Award
  • Mae Monette, 18, piano, won the Judith & David Ranheim Award
  • Vladimir Tsiper, 14, violin, won the Minneapolis Music Teachers Forum Award

Please join us in congratulating all the winners, and in thanking the generous donors of this year’s awards, which collectively totaled $9,200. We also thank our judges for the Finals: Pamela Arnstein, Susan Billmeyer and William Eddins; and for the Preliminary Round: Kari Doctor, Angela Fuller Heyde, Hanna Landrum, Ruth Lin, Greg Milliren, Kai Rocke, Bjorn Ranheim and Paul Shaw.

A Music Performance Competition for Talented Students

YPSCA’s 65th Annual Concerto Competition will be held in February 2022.  Applications are due January 14, 2022.  The Preliminary Round will be virtual, with performance video submissions due February 5, 2022.  The Final Round will be held at Orchestra Hall on Sunday, February 27, 2022. 

Apply Online

Guidelines for Students

Students in grades 7 through 12 in Minnesota and other Upper Midwest locations who are skilled at playing orchestral instruments or piano compete for the opportunity to perform with the Minnesota Orchestra at a Young People’s Concert in the following season. Cash prizes are also awarded to Finalists; in a typical year, the total value of these prizes is more than $7,000.

Each contestant prepares a portion of a major work, such as a concerto movement, to perform from memory. Performances are judged by professional musicians specializing in strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard. For the Finals, held on the Orchestra Hall stage, YPSCA welcomes members of the public to attend and to witness the riveting performances of these extraordinary young musicians

Hard-working YPSCA volunteers carry out myriad tasks to ensure that the competition is a success from start to finish. They prepare announcements, review applications, select judges, handle registration, escort contestants to their warm-up and audition rooms, announce and time the performances, organize hospitality – and much more. If you'd like to be involved, please write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and join in the thrill of working with young musicians who make this competition a highlight of the musical season!

Kudos to Our Past Winners


In March 2020, our Competition winner was Catherine Carson, a 17-year-old violinist from Northfield MN, who performed the first movement of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47. She studied with Sally O’Reilly and attended Shattuck St.-Mary’s School in Owatonna. Catherine was scheduled to perform in Young People’s Concerts in March 2021, but those concerts were canceled due to the pandemic. Orchestra staff is working with Ms. Carson to perform in the 2021-2022 season. Meanwhile, she continues her studies at the Eastman School of Music.


In February 2019, our Competition winner was Nita Qiu, a 16-year-old pianist from Woodbury, who performed the second and third movements of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. She was scheduled to appear with the Orchestra in Young People’s Concerts on March 18 & 19, 2020, but those concerts were unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic. Orchestra staff is working with Ms. Qiu to reschedule her performance for the 2020-2021 season. Nita is an 11th-grade student at River Ridge in Eagan and studies piano with Dr. Joseph Zins of Saint Paul.


In February 2018, our Competition winner was Emma Taggart, a 15-year-old pianist from Blaine, performing the opening movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. She is scheduled to appear with the Orchestra in two concert sets in spring of 2019, performing Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals in March and a movement of the Grieg A-minor Piano Concerto in May. She also won the Minnesota Music Teachers Forum award, which included a performance opportunity and a grant of $200. Taggart, a 10th-grader at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul, studies with Dr. Reid Smith of Dellwood.


Cellist Nygel Witherspoon won the Young People’s Concerto Competition in January 2017, performing the first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. At the time Witherspoon, of Minneapolis, was a 10th-grader at Connections Academy who studied with David Holmes of St. Louis Park. Witherspoon appeared with the Orchestra several times during the 2017-18 season, including in Young People’s Concerts in October and May.


In January 2016, a clarinetist took home the highest Concerto Competition prize. Anders Peterson, then a sophomore at Northfield High and a student of Dr. Jun Qian, chose Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet for his winning performance. In addition to his monetary award, he earned the privilege of performing with the Minnesota Orchestra at a Young People’s Concert in February 2017.


The 2015 winner was pianist Zhen Tu, then a 10th-grader at Eagan High School, who was the featured soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra at Young People’s Concerts in October 2015 and February 2016.

Here are all the talented performers who have won the Concerto Competition in the past.