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.
2014 Winners
 Ann Cho
17 year old violinist, Ann Cho, is a 2014 Young Arts National Winner in Classical Music.  She is the current Music Teachers National Association Texas state winner and will compete in the Southwest Division in January.  Ann is also a former prizewinner of the Longy Music School's Concerto Competition and the San Diego Symphony's Concerto Competition. At the age of 5, she was the youngest attendee of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.  Other orchestral experiences include concert mistress of the Texas All- Region Orchestra, the Texas All-State Symphony, and the Aspen Philharmonic. Last summer, she was a student at the Aspen Music Festival and School where she studied under Paul Kantor and Anne Epperson.  Past teachers include Janet Packer, Simon James, and Jeff Thayer.  She has played for Brian Lewis, Edward Dusineberre, among others. Ann is currently under the tutelage of Jan Mark Sloman. Ann enjoys running Cross Country at Westlake, watching CNN's Anderson Cooper on his nightly news program, (when she can,) going to the movies, and above all, sleeping.

Ann will play the 1st movement of Camille Saint-Saëns' Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61.

Jonathan Qi
Born in Canada in 1999, Jonathan Qi started taking piano lessons at the Suzuki Music Academy when he was 6 years old and with Ruth Pignotti a year later. Now a freshmen at Westwood High School, Jonathan has studied under the direction of Dr. Betty Mallard for the past 3 years. He has won several piano competitions in the Austin Area including Schedler Scholarship Competition, ADMTA Solo Contest and Austin Piano Festival Competition. He also participated 2013 Texas State International Piano Festival. When he is not practicing piano, he plays oboe, video games, and explores math and science. He was first chair oboist at 2012-2013 All Region Symphonic Orchestra. He was also awarded Outstanding Soloist twice by The Mark of Excellence National Wind Band Honors.

Jonathan will perform the 1st movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37.

Margaret Seo
13 year old Margaret Seo started to play the violin at the age of 5 and currently studies with Kyung Joo Sung. Margaret loves to play violin with her friends in orchestras and has played with the Austin Youth Orchestra since she was 7, the Classical Music for the World's Community Chamber Orchestra as the concert mistress and soloist at 10 years old, and the Region 26 Middle School Full Orchestra last November as concert mistress.  In the 7th grade at Cedar Valley Middle School, she is the concert mistress for the Advanced Orchestra.  She also loves to share some of her excitement of music with the elderly people around her home.  She was the winner of the Asian American Young Musician competition and performed at the Long Center in 2012 when she was 11.  During her free time, Margaret enjoys figure skating, swimming and reading books, as well as playing with her friends.  In her school, she shows some interest in language arts and science.

Margaret will perform the 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D major, Op. 35


Check out this page for additional information: Amster Competition Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).  If you have questions not included in the FAQ, please e-mail us at

    2013-2014 Amster Competition Rules

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

    2013-2014 Amster Competition Application

    The application period for the 2013-2014 competition is ended.  The application for 2014-2015 will be available in June of 2014.

    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.