Sinfonia Concerto Competition

Application deadline: Nov. 1, 2023
Competition date: Nov. 18, 2023
Registration fee: $50

Linc Smelser directs the CSA Sinfonia youth orchestra, a full orchestra that has performed varied and exciting repertoire in NIU's Boutell Memorial Concert Hall every year since 1999. The Sinfonia Concerto Competition began in 2000.

  • This competition is open to students who are 18 years of age or younger and live within 75 miles of DeKalb.
  • Competitors don't need to be members of the Sinfonia ensemble.
  • The music to be performed must be one movement of a standard solo concerto or an appropriate one-movement composition.

The winner performs the concerto with the CSA Sinfonia at the May concert and receives a prize of $200, presented at the concert. Winners may not compete again on the same instrument.

Apply to audition today!

Rules and Regulations

  • Music to be performed at the audition must be one movement of a standard solo concerto or an appropriate one-movement composition
  • Due to the increased cost of rental music, we are unable to accept applications with works that are not available for purchase or are not in the public domain.
  • All audition music is subject to approval by the music director of the CSA Sinfonia.
  • All selections must be memorized.
  • The time limit for auditions is eight minutes. This rule will be strictly enforced, and exceptions will not be allowed. If the concerto is longer than eight minutes, you may either make cuts or end the piece at an appropriate place within the time limit. If you make cuts, be sure to note them in the judges’ music.
  • Bring the music (original, not a copy) to the audition for the judges.
  • All auditions must be performed with accompaniment. Each competitor is responsible for his or her own accompanist. Our office provides a list of pianists who might be available to provide accompaniment.
  • Once a musician has won the CSA Concerto Competition, they may not compete again on the same instrument.

We look forward to receiving your application. You will receive an assigned audition time soon after the deadline for applications. If you have any questions, contact the office at 815-753-1450.

Lydia Kessler (Harp) 2023–2024 Winner

An award-winning harpist and pianist, Lydia Kessler enjoys solo, chamber and orchestral performance.  She currently plays harp with Midwest Young Artists Symphony Orchestra and has performed with many area ensembles, including Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra and several youth orchestras. She has been recognized in international, national and regional competitions, including the American Harp Society National Competition (first place, Intermediate I, 2021; finalist, Intermediate II, 2023) and the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar Competition (tie first place, Preparatory Division, 2018). 

She has participated in various enrichment camps such as the Illinois Summer Harp Class, where she was a featured young talent (2022); Curtis Harp Days (2021, virtual); Young Artist’s Harp Seminar (2020, virtual); and OPUS chamber music camp. Lydia is especially thankful to all those who have helped her develop musically, especially her harp teacher, Erin Freund; her orchestra director, Allan Dennis; her piano collaborator and music coach, Sooka Wang; her church music director, Jonathan Gilley; and her late piano teacher, Constance Hughes.