Young Artists Competition

The Board of Directors of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra has announced the winners of the 21st annual Young Artists Competition, held Saturday, February 4, at Callaway Auditorium on the campus of LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.  (You may read more about the details of this prestigious annual competition below.)

Congratulations to all the fine musicians who participated in this competition.  It was a terrific year, and here is a look at the 2017 winners.



Richard Cho

The Dorothy Allen Turner Award for first place went to violinist Richard Cho. The sophomore at Alpharetta High School is currently studying under the guidance of Professor Sergiu Schwartz at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University. Mr. Cho, who performed Henri Viuextemps’ Violin Concerto No 5, made his solo debut with the Orchestra of Omaha at age 11. He is the winner of the 2013 Ruth Kern Concerto Competition, 2014 Samuel Fordis Young Artists Concerto Competition and has played solo with both the Atlanta Community Orchestra and the Georgia Philharmonic Orchestra.

As first place winner, Mr. Cho will receive $1,500 and perform as the featured soloist with the LaGrange Symphony in a concert during the 2017-2018 season.



Weiru Sheng

The Max Kaplan Award for second place was won by violinist Weiru Sheng from Columbus State University where she is in her first year of the Master’s program at the Schwob School of Music, having completed her Bachelor of Music there last year. She performed Henri Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor. MS. Sheng was a 2015 Atlanta music club scholarship competition winner, a 2014 Georgia MTNA Artist string division winner and winner of the Schwob School of Music Concerto competition in 2013. Ms. Sheng, a native of China, has played with the Zhejiang Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Lagrange Symphony Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. This prize carries a $1,000 cash award.



Olivia Palazzolo

Winner of the NOTE Award for third place and a $500 cash award is violist Olivia Palazzolo of Eads, Tennessee, who will complete her Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance in 2018 from the University of Memphis. She is the 2016 winner of the Beethoven Club prize award in Memphis, the 2015 of the Nashville Symphony’s Thor Johnson Senior Scholarship winner, the 2014 Grand Prize winner of the Nashville Symphony’s CURB Records Competition as well as the 2014 winner of the Primrose International Viola Competition Tone Prize in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Palazzolo has performed with the Huntsville Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Philharmonic. MS. Palazzolo played Concerto for Viola by Bela Bartok.

Judges of the 2017 Young Artists Competition were Dr. Richard Prior, Music Director and Conductor of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, who is also Director of Orchestra Studies at Emory University; Jessica Stinson, a graduate of the Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston, Texas, having received a Master’s degree in Violin Performance; and Dr. W. David Richardson, who received his Doctor in Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Georgia and is currently Director of Orchestras at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

The competition this year was open to participants from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina or Tennessee who were under age 26 and played a string instrument.

Official 2017 Poster

2017-YAC Poster

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2017 YAC Application and Submission Details

YAC 2017 application

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More about the Annual Young Artists Competition

This competition is held at the Callaway Auditorium, on the campus of LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.  The 2017 event is for strings and 2018 is for piano.  Please read more about this event below.  Requirements and how to apply are detailed on the application, which is posted here when the process begins for the next competition.

The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra began the Young Artists Competition in 1996 to encourage professional standards of performance among young musicians. Originally formed to serve residents or resident students within a 50 mile radius of LaGrange, the competition now serves talented young musicians from six southeastern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Each year the contestants perform before nationally and internationally recognized judges. The first place winner is invited to perform with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra later in the concert season.

Participants in the Young Artists Competition compete for three awards:

First Place: Dorothy Allen Turner Award – $1,500

This award honors the memory of Dorothy Allen Turner, longtime LaGrange resident, devoted supporter of music in the community, and widow of Dr. Render Turner. Dot’s daughter Isabelle Knight is a former member of the LSO and her granddaughter  Callie Knight Hammond is the current assistant concert master of the LSO as well as the conductor of the youth string ensemble. Her son in law, Charles Knight, is a past President of the Symphony board. The Cash award of $1,500 includes the opportunity to perform as guest soloist with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. 1st place winner appears with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra in Callaway Auditorium during the last concert of the year of the Subscription Series.

Second Place: Max Kaplan Award – $1,000

The second place award honors the memory of Dr. Max Kaplan. Dr. Kaplan, a university professor, author and lecturer, was a sociologist, violinist and member of the LSO board from 1992 to 1998. A resident of Meriwether County, he was deeply involved in LaGrange’s cultural life. His wide experience with orchestras as concertmaster and conductor, and as co-organizer of the famed Boston Youth Symphony, made him invaluable to the LSO board.

Third Place: NOTE Award – $500

This award was named by the donor, Eunice Connally Carr. The NOTE acronym designates an award which meets a Need, provides an Opportunity for young people, recognizes Talent, and rewards significant Effort on the part of the young performer. Contestant must be under the age of 26 on the date of the competition and must be a resident or resident student of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina or Tennessee.

SCALA (Student Competition Awards in the LaGrange Area)

SCALA seeks to encourage high standards of musicianship by offering the music student an opportunity
• to perform for judges recognized for their expertise in teaching and performing,
• to receive constructive comments about his/her performance, and
• to compete for an award honoring outstanding performance.


Junior Division (grades 3 – 7)
Two awards of $300 will be made:
Award for String Performance
Award for Keyboard Performance
Senior Division (grades 8 – 12)

Five awards of $300 will be made:

The Austin P. Cook, Jr. and Eleanor B. Cook Award for Percussion Performance
The Emily Wentworth Landa Award for Vocal Performance
The Kathryn Mercer Merrill Award for Wind Instrument Performance
The Emily Katherine Smith Award for String Performance
The Barbara Malis Award made to a competing musician who is a resident or resident student of Troup County


• Students in grades 3-7 may compete in the string and keyboard categories.
• Students in grades 8-12 may compete in the string, keyboard, percussion, wind and voice categories.
•Performance may be in the categories of piano, percussion, voice, winds or strings.
• Applicants eligible for the SCALA competition may enter both the SCALA and the Barbara Malis competitions. Fees apply for both competitions.
• Any music student between 16 and 20 on the day of the competition who is a resident or resident student of Troup County is eligible for the Barbara Malis competition.
•Winners of the Barbara Malis Award may compete in the competition again in another instrument.

Performance Requirements

• The student’s selection(s) should display the range of his/her musical ability.
• The student’s performance should be no longer than 10 minutes.
• All music should be memorized.
• The student is required to provide his/her own accompanist. An accompanist can be provided for a fee of $25.00
• One copy of the student’s music should be provided for judges’ use.


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