Young Artist Competition

Sponsored by Capitol Federal®
Sunday, September 10th, 2023
White Concert Hall, Garvey Fine Arts Center, Washburn University – Topeka, Kansas

The Topeka Symphony again offers a special opportunity to talented young musicians. The overall winner of the Young Artist Competition will perform with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra at the concert on Saturday, November 4th, 2023. Winners must perform the selection(s) performed at the competition.


1. Contestants must be enrolled in the 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grades in one of the following Kansas counties: Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Lyon, Marshall, Miami, Morris, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Wyandotte.

2. The competition will be conducted in four divisions: vocal; piano; wind and percussion instruments; and string instruments. Impartial judges will select the winners in each division. If, in the opinion of the judges, there is not a qualified entrant in a division, no winner will be declared.

3. An overall winner may enter the following year in a different division only. A runner-up is eligible to enter his or her same division, but must perform different repertoire.

4. Competition performances are anonymous. Each contestant will be assigned a number.

5. Contestants in the instrumental divisions may play one or more movements of any concerto or standard work for solo and orchestra which has a readily available orchestral accompaniment and which lasts from a minimum of 7 to a maximum of 15 minutes total performance time.

6. Contestants in the vocal division may sing any combination of arias or compositions from the classical or standard vocal repertoire which have readily available orchestral accompaniments and which last from a minimum of 7 to a maximum of 15 minutes total performance time. Selections should be contrasting in style.

7. Competition performances are limited to ten (10) minutes and composition(s) must be performed from memory. Judges have the option to ask a contestant to perform any section of the selected composition(s).

8. Each contestant must furnish: A) his or her own accompanist for the competition; B) four (4) copies of the composition(s) for the judges.

9. Each contestant MUST be recommended by her/his music supervisor or private teacher. Repertoire MUST be at performance level at the time of the competition and performed from memory.

10. The competition will be held in Topeka, Sunday, September 10th, 2023, at White Concert Hall, Garvey Fine Arts Center, on the Washburn University campus. The competition is open to the public.

11. Each contestant must complete the Entry Form found here: ENTRY FORM 

12. Please pay the $35 NON-REFUNDABLE ENTRY FEE here: PAY FEE

13. Cash awards given by Capitol Federal® will be presented to the overall winner and the division winners at the November 4th, 2023, TSO concert.

14. DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES is midnight, Friday, August 25th, 2023. Contestants will be advised of an assigned competition time soon after the deadline. Contestants MUST appear 30 minutes prior to their assigned time and must be backstage and prepared to perform at least 10 minutes prior to their assigned time.

2022 – 2023 Young Artist Competition Winners

Alex Brady

Overall Winner

A senior at St. James Academy, Alex Brady is a multi-faceted flutist, playing in orchestras, concert bands, pit orchestras, jazz bands, and flute choirs across Kansas. Alex has had the honor of attending the Galway Summer Flute Festival, the University of Michigan MPulse Flute Institute, and the Midwestern Music Festival. He has held the position of Principal Flute for the Kansas City Youth Symphony, and is now an active member of the University of Kansas’s Flute Choir, Rock Chalk Flutes. He has performed in masterclasses for Lady Jeanne Galway, Amy Porter, Michael Gordon, and Jordan Smith. He currently studies with Dr. Daniel Velasco, and is grateful for the never-ending support of his teachers, Annie Gnojek and Dr. Helen Harrelson.

Alex performed Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino, Op. 107, on our January 21st, 2023, concert

Wendi Wen

Piano Division Winner

Wendi Wen (born 30 June 2008) started to play the piano at the age of four with the pianist XIE Yashuangzi and then Professor ZHOU Wei from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She also plays the violin, starting at the age of six with the violinist ZHU Yue. She became a member of Shanghai Young String Chamber Ensemble at nine in 2018 and participated in the Very Young Composers Workshop at the Music in the Summer Air Festival in 2019 at eleven.

As a rising performer, she performed in the Conero International Piano Competition in Italy in the summer of 2022. She was selected to play for masterclasses and won first-prize in a chamber music category. In September 2022, she was invited to perform as a guest pianist in the Youth Trio at the Village Presbyterian Church concert series.

In addition to performing, Wendi is also an award-winning composer. She started her music composition lessons with her father Deqing Wen, a composer and composition professor of Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 2020, she was admitted to Geneva Popular Conservatory of Music, learning composition with Arturo Corrales and piano performance with Eugénie Grenier Borel. In the same year, she composed her first orchestral work “Lady Liberty in a Thunderstorm”, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to mark the 100th anniversary of Women’s constitutional right to vote in the U.S and it was premiered by the New York Philharmonic at the Alice Tully Hall in New York in March 2022. She won the first prize of Zurich Camerata (Switzerland) with her string orchestral work “Chant d’Oiseau” in 2021. In the same year she won the first prize of the 14th Shanghai International Youth Piano Competition 2021 (Shanghai Section). In 2022, her 2021 completed work “The Triangular Prism II” for violin and piano won the first prize in the Swiss Youth Music Competition.

Currently, she is a freshman at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas City, USA. She is studying piano performance with Dr. Regina Tanujaya, and she continues her violin studies with Dr. Yu-Ru WU and then Yi-Miao HUANG, who is currently pursuing D.M.A in violin performance. She is also a member of Youth Symphony of Kansas City, playing the violin.

Oliver Zhang

Winds Division Winner

Oliver Zhang first started playing trumpet in 2nd grade. Since 5th grade, he’s joined the fountain city youth brass band and played in the Kansas City Youth Symphony. Oliver is now a senior at Blue Valley North High School. Since freshman year, he’s made 1st and 2nd chair in the all-state band and orchestra, as well as the All-National Honor Ensemble as 1st trumpet. Last year in April of 2022, Oliver received 1st prize as the winner of the 2022 National Trumpet Competition, high school division. At Blue Valley North, Oliver is an active member in the school marching band and wind ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Daniel Freeman, and enjoys organizing his own brass ensembles performing at volunteer events or regional competitions. Oliver credits much of his success to his parents, family, and trumpet professor Dr. Keith Benjamin at the University of Missouri Kansas-City. Outside of music, Oliver loves being part of the school swim team, and hopes to continue all his passions in college.

Andrew Anderson

Strings Division Winner

Andrew Anderson, a junior at Topeka High School, has played cello for two years. He is the assistant principal cellist in the Kansas City Youth Symphony Orchestra. Andrew has been selected for the KMEA District and All-state orchestras. He has received outstanding ratings in the KMEA regional and state solo and small ensemble festivals. Andrew has won the Washburn University Concerto Competition. Outside of music, he enjoys reading and tennis.

View previous years’ winners: