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Judith Elser Concerto Competition

Results of the first biennial competition:

Five finalists competed in live auditions in May, 2018, at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston. In alphabetical order, they are: Liam Butchart, Voice, Colby College; Yitong (Thomas) Deng, Piano, Colby College; Josie DiPhilippo, Piano, USM; Annah Gauthier, Piano,USM; Nathan Hackworth, Percussion, UM Orono. The winner and runner-up were:


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.

Special thanks to the judges for MSO's inaugural concerto competition:

  • Betsey Degroff, Voice
  • Mark Fredericks, Percussion
  • Mary Hunter, Violin
  • George Lopez, Piano
  • Rohan Smith, Conductor


This biennial competition was open to any undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a Maine college or university who submitted application materials by March 1st, 2018.  Application details (downloadable PDF)

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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