Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Competition

Mission Statement
To cultivate and celebrate the Austin area young musicians by providing a performance opportunity with a full symphony orchestra.

Spotlighting exceptional young musicians age 18 and under from Austin and the surrounding areas, the Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Competition gives these youth the opportunity to perform with a full symphony orchestra and win college scholarship assistance. Former winners include musicians featured on NPR's From the Top, Carnegie Hall performers, and Juilliard graduates. 

The audition process is in two parts. All applicants submit an application that includes an audio recording of the applicant playing the composition and a panel of judges screens the recordings and chooses finalists for the live auditions. The second part is the live audition where a panel of three judges selects three winners to perform with in concert with the Austin Civic Orchestra.
Important Dates
  • Friday, October 31, 2014 - All application materials submitted.
  • Monday, December 1, 2014 - Applicants notified of recorded audition results
  • Sunday, January 11, 2015 - Live auditions at Bachus Conservatory in Austin, TX.
  • Saturday, March 28, 2015 - Winners perform in concert with the Austin Civic Orchestra

2014-2015 Amster Competition Rules
Click to download a PDF copy of the rules for this year's competition:  Amster Competition Rules

2014-2015 Amster Competition Application
The current application for the Amster Youth concerto competition is available here.
The AmsterFAQ page may have the answer to your questions.

If not, feel free to e-mail the chair of the competition committee at

Past Winners

Notable past winners include the following:
  • Trumpeter Bob Cannon, who won in 1988, is now principal trumpet with the Austin Symphony.
  • Violinist Eri Lee Lam, who won in 1990 at the age of 17, is now Violin Professor and Chamber Music Director at Southwestern University in Georgetown.
  • Violinist Long Zhou, who won in 1991, is concertmaster of the Symphony of the Hills and has played with the San Antonio Symphony. Long is the father of violinist Nancy Zhou, an Amster winner in 2004 and 2006. Nancy is now studying at the New England Conservatory.
  • Pianist Melissa Marse, who won in 1992, received a doctorate from the New England Conservatory and now performs extensively worldwide. Melissa also sings professionally with Conspirare.
  • Pianist Angela Alonzo, who won in 1993 and 1994 at the ages of 16 and 17, respectively, was featured on NPR's From the Top series. Angela had her Carnegie Hall debut in January 2002.
  • Pianist Chris Guzman, who won in 1995 at the age of 14, received his bachelor's and master's degree  from Juilliard, his artist diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music and is currently working on his DMA at the University of Texas at Austin. Chris also is touring and has performed in Tokyo twice and with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
  • Violinist Carrie Rodriguez, who won in 1995 and 1996, attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music in Boston. She is currently touring and has a hit CD with Chip Taylor.
  • Cellist Daniel McDonough, who won in 1996 at age 16, earned master's degrees from Juilliard and the New England Conservatory. Daniel performs with the award-winning Jupiter String Quartet.
  • Pianist Katie Frank, who won in 1999 at the age of 18, was accepted into the finals of the Pinault International Piano Competition in New York. Katie also performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall.
  • Violinist Warren Hood, who won in 2000 at the age of 18, is the son of violinist Champ Hood, who toured with Lyle Lovett. Warren has performed with Charlie Robinson, the Austin Symphony, and the South Austin Jug band. Warren is also a frequent guest artist of musician Tish Hinojosa.
  • Oboist Nicholas Stovall, who won in 2001, received a master's from Juilliard and is now principal oboist with the National Symphony.
  • Pianist Mary Elizabeth Box, who won in 2003 at the age of 18, received a bachelor of music degree from the Eastman School of Music in 2009.
  • Bassoonist T.K. DeWitt, who won in 2003, received a master's from Rice University and now plays with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. T.K. is also a regular with the Houston Symphony.
  • Pianist Benjamin Laude, who won in 2004, earned a master's from Juilliard and now performs worldwide. Ben also teaches at Juilliard and in his private studio in Manhattan.
  • Bassoonist Billy Short, who won in 2004, studied at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music and is now principal bassoonist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
  • Hornist John Turman, who won in 2008, studied at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music and is now with the Dallas Symphony.
  • Pianist Danielle Cordray, who won in 2009, earned a bachelor's in music at the University of North Texas and is now principal harpist with the Dallas Civic Wind Ensemble.
  • Cellist Laura Andrade, who won in 2010 at age 15, is studying at the Eastman School of Music.
  • Violinist Collin Turner, who won in 2012 at age 18, is studying at the Mercer University Townsend School of Music.
This competition is named in honor of the long-time dedication of Pearl Amster and her husband Gustav in furthering the growth and development of performance opportunities for budding musicians. College scholarships are funded by an endowment by the Webber Family Foundation and administered by the Austin Community Foundation.