Young Artist Competition

Sponsored by Capitol Federal®
Sunday, October 2nd, 2022
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, January 21st, 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, October 2nd, 2022, 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 January 21st, 2023, TSO concert.

14. DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES is midnight, Friday, September 9th, 2022. 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.

2021 – 2022 Young Artist Competition Winners

Carlee Elsner

Overall Winner and Voice Division Winner


Carlee Elsner, a senior at Olathe Northwest High School, is a soprano who has studied voice for 6 years and piano for 10 years. Her voice teachers are Martha Sharp and Cameron Becker. Most recently, Carlee was a NATS finalist in 2021, the West Central NATS Regional Winner of Treble Division in 2021 and 2022, a Classical Singer Semi-finalist in 2021, and the William Jewell Vocal Competition Winner. She has also been a member of the Kansas Regional and All-State Choir all four years of high school. Since 2011, Carlee has been a member of the premier auditioned community choir program of the KC metro, Allegro Choirs of Kansas City. She plans on majoring in vocal performance and will know very soon which prestigious conservatory she will attend. Carlee is also a member of the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, and has won multiple awards in Western and English equestrian events. Carlee will be performing Gaetano Donizetti’s “O tu che desti il fulmine” from Pia de’ Tolomei on our April 9th concert.

Matthew Liu

Overall Winner and Keyboard Division Winner


Matthew Liu, age 14, has been studying piano for 8 years and is currently a
student of Professor Jack Winerock at the University of Kansas. Recently, he won the best Chopin performance in MTNA junior piano, first prize at International Young Artist Piano Competition in D.C., first prize at Chopin International Competition in Hartford CT, first prize in Paderewski International Piano Competition, first prize in Conero International Piano Competition, and was a semi-finalist at the 2021 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. In 2019, he performed with Midwestern Chamber as a concerto competition winner, and KC Star commended his performance as “dazzling, …, the music played expressively, … a joy to hear”, and “was phenomenal”. In addition to music, Matthew loves to play tennis and chess, and enjoys spending time with families and friends at church. Matthew will be performing the first movement from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on our April 9th concert. 

Lisa Ji

Overall Winner and String Division Winner


Lisa Ji, a junior at Blue Valley West High School, has studied violin for 9 years and piano for 12 years. Ben Sayevich is her violin teacher. She is the concertmaster in her school’s Symphonic Orchestra and has played keyboard in the Pit Orchestra for 2 years. Lisa was the winner of the KMTA competition several times for both violin and piano. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis. Lisa will be performing the first movement of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor on our April 9th concert. 

Neo Kim

Winds Division Winner


Neo Kim, a junior at Manhattan High School, has studied saxophone since the age of 9. Zach Shemon is his saxophone teacher. Neo plays in his school’s marching band and concert band. Neo has been chosen to participate in his district and all-state bands along with the concert band hosted by NAfME. He also participated in various school activities such as the Asian Student Union and Model United Nations. At the competition, Neo won the winds division by playing Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche, movements I, II, and III. 

View previous years’ winners: