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Judith Elser Concerto Competition

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The 2019-2020 competition:

MSO's second biennial concerto competition was open to any undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a Maine college or university who submitted application materials by March 1st, 2020.  

We received and reviewed several excellent applications, and announced 5 finalists in April.  Then the pandemic intervened, and some competitors needed to return to their homes and were unable to return. In alphabetical order, the finalists are:

  • Josie DiPhilippo, Piano, USM
  • Sofia Edgar, Violin, Bates College
  • Kimberly Hunt, Piano, UM Orono, Junior
  • Anne McKee, Violin, Bowdoin College
  • Mesa Schubeck, Piano, USM

The competition finalists will perform in live auditions that are free and open to the public. Originally scheduled for May 20, 2020 at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston, the final auditions are now scheduled for October 21, 2020.  Unfortunately this event will be closed to the public but will be videotaped for later presentation.

The winner of the competition will be announced at the finals, and was expected to perform as guest soloist with the Midcoast Symphony at its January 2021 concerts. In keeping with the COVID-19 safety guidelines, this program is yet to be determined.

The first biennial competition:

The final live auditions were held in May 2018, leading to:

Nathan was guest soloist with the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra at our October 2018 concert series, and he received $1,000 from the Judith Elser Concerto Fund.

How the competiton started:

The competition honors the memory of Judy Elser (1940-2015), a long-time music teacher who played cello in the MSO for many years,  served on the Board, and left a generous bequest to the orchestra when she died. We are grateful for all she gave to the orchestra, and know that she would be thrilled to witness the personal growth and success her gift has made possible for our young entrants and winners.

A bit about the MSO:

The Midcoast Symphony is a community orchestra founded in 1990. Started as a chamber orchestra, we now have over eighty members on our roster. We play four concert programs per year, performing at the Orion Center in Topsham and the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston. Our audiences number around 500 in the Orion Center, and close to 200 in Lewiston. All members are volunteer players; we are teachers, doctors, homemakers, business people, retired people and a variety of other occupations, and we hail from the Midcoast, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland regions.  Many of us have advanced degrees in performance, but we also include players who started as adults, and those who have always played as an avocation. We do repertory ranging from Mozart and Haydn to recently written pieces, and we are excited to connect further with talented young players from our state.

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