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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. 2022-2023 winners performed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major and Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2. 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 15, 2023 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:

  • 2022, Daniel Colaner (senior division), Saint-Saens, Piano Concerto No. 2, performance 4/30/2022
  • 2022, Saya Uejima (junior division), Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23, performance 11/13/2022
  • 2021, Rosabelle Shi (senior division), Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1, performance 3/6/2022
  • 2021, Richelle Shi (junior division), Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 2, performance 3/6/2022
  • 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

(born 1976, Austin, Texas, USA) is a Northeast Ohio composer, conductor, trombonist, husband, and father. All his work is connected to teaching students from kindergarten to college in styles from madrigal to mariachi. He draws inspiration from the vastness of space, the waterways and forests, mountains and prairies of America, the motion of atoms, and the mysteries of existence, but most importantly from collaboration with other musicians and his students. He reads history, science, science fiction, classics, and too much social media. After a hard day's work, he relaxes on the couch with his wonderful wife, who is the love of his life and his teammate in the sport of parenting their children. On sunny days off, he bicycles and hikes, and hopes to bike the full length of the Ohio & Erie Canalway, from Cleveland to Bolivar, a short distance from the first home he remembers. He is lucky to live near Lake Erie, and he often pauses to look out over it for the glimpse of a freighter, or merely to contemplate the motion of the water. Dr. Saunders is a lover of both solitude and camaraderie, Cincinnati-style chili, road trips, movies, and random facts. His favorite dinosaur is the Parasaurolophus, but he thinks the best dinosaur is the Stegosaurus. He keeps a running list of possible band names, and one day hopes to start one, singing clever songs about the world (as well as a few love songs) with plenty of vocal harmony. He gets excited about lots of music that he would never write or perform himself and does what he can to share that with the world, too, because everyone's voice should be heard.

Dr. Saunders is Professor of Music and music and theater department chair at Lakeland Community College, where he also directs the Lakeland Civic Orchestra.  Prior to coming to Lakeland, 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. 

Dr. Saunders' original compositions have been performed across the country, including performances at national conferences of the National Flute Association, the International Horn Society, and the Society of Composers, and he has presented his research at conferences of the College Music Society and the Society of Composers, and at 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 University City (Missouri) Symphony Orchestra; at Eastern Illinois University, Kutztown University (Pennsylvania), Denison University (Ohio), Westminster College (Pennsylvania),  Florida Gulf Coast University, Lakeland Community College (Ohio), Sinclair Community College (Ohio), West Texas A&M University, The Ohio State University, Kansas State University, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University.  His work South Africa for horn and marimba received support from the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund of the International Horn Society, and appears on faculty and graduate recitals across the United States and throughout the world.  He received the 2007 Ruth Friscoe Prize for composition, was the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association 2011 Commissioned Composer (for his Piano Sonata), and is the recipient of six ASCAP Plus Awards. 

As a conductor, Dr. Saunders has been the director of the Lakeland Civic Orchestra since 2012, where he has championed the music of Northeast Ohio composers and commissioned works from Daniel Perttu, Olivia Kieffer, and Cooper Wood, and collaborated with performing faculty members from Kent State University, Cleveland State University, Baldwin Wallace University, and Westminster University. Since 2012, the Lakeland Civic Orchestra has also collaborated with the Lakeland Civic Chorus in performances of works by Schubert, Faure, Brahms, and Bernstein. He has conducted college and community stage productions of L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Willy Wonka, Sweeney Todd, Grease, and Little Women. In his position at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Dr. Saunders was the director of bands, including concert, athletic, and mariachi ensembles.

Dr. Saunders has appeared as soloist in multiple performances in his trombone concerto Homo sapiens trombonensis, and in his 40-minute work for unaccompanied trombone, Twenty Views of the Trombone, which received its first complete performance at Eyedrum in Atlanta in 2017, with excerpts performed in locations from New York City to Aspen, Colorado. He maintains a private trombone studio at the Fine Arts Association in Willoughby, Ohio, and also teaches composition to pre-college students.

Dr. Saunders' music is published by Imagine Music and online at, and he has written articles for The Journal of Band Research, Music Educators Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Society of Composers Newsletter, 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.  He is a native-born Texan, but considers Columbus, Ohio to be his hometown.

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