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Each year the ISO sponsors a "Young Performers Competition" in which music students across Long Island vie for the opportunity for a scholarship award and to perform a full classical concerto as a soloist with the orchestra. 

This competition provides young musicians with much needed experience that prepares them for the challenges of a future career in music.  Since this program began, the ISO has granted more than 25 performance opportunities to our First and Second Prize winners.

The competition is now closed to applications.  Applications will again be accepted in September 2020 (See submission button below).  Finalists are selected and auditions are conducted in January/February of the following year, with a winner selected shortly thereafter.  The performance opportunity for the winner will generally occur in May or June at the ISO's annual spring community concert.

Meet our 2019 Winner!

Winner of our 2019 Young Performers Competition

Sarah Ma


Our continued thanks to Mr. Peter Horvath for generously underwriting the scholarships awarded to our competition winners.

Sarah Ma


Sarah is our First Prize recipient, and Winner of the

Dr. Charles F. Gouse  Scholarship Award.

Sarah is a 15-year-old violinist from Garden City. She is currently a student of Masao Kawasaki at the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division as a recipient of the Beggs-Dethier Scholarship. As a top prize winner in several national and international competitions, Sarah has frequently performed as a soloist with orchestras such as Ensemble 212, NY Chamber Players, Bergen Philharmonic, Union City Philharmonic, Bravura Philharmonic, Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, and the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Symphony, among others. In 2017, Sarah was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Blount-Slawson National and the Cooper International competitions. She was also a laureate and prize winner in the 2016 Il Piccolo Violino Magico competition in Italy.

Sarah has worked with several teachers and renowned musicians in masterclasses and lessons, including Ani Kavafian, Robert Lipsett, Li Lin, Ray Chen, Sarah Chang, Donald Weilerstein, David and Linda Cerone, Aaron Rosand, and Stefan Jackiw, among others. A previous full-scholarship student of Elizabeth Faidley at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College, Sarah won both divisions of the school's competition, as well as honorable mention in the chamber competition. In addition to performing, Sarah enjoys giving back to the community through music as a member of Back to Bach's Long Island branch, a guest artist in concerts for the Tiwanaku Project in Bolivia, and volunteering for Music & Memory. Sarah's past summers have been spent at the Indiana University JSOM Summer String Academy studying with Mimi Zweig, the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Lipsett, Summit Music Festival with Aaron Rosand, and the Heifetz Institute of Music. In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, hiking, swimming, and is a painter at the Helen Zhang Art Studio.


The ISO Young Performers Competition is open to all instrumentalists, 18 years old or younger, currently residing in Nassau or Suffolk Counties and studying with a private teacher.

To apply, the following application materials must be submitted to us electronically.  CLICK ON THE SUBMISSION LINK ABOVE TO BEGIN THE APPLICATION PROCESS:

1. A completed ONLINE application form (available once you click the link to submit your application above).  You will be asked for your name, age, address, email address, phone number, the title of the work you would like to perform in concert with us, any alternative works you might be ready to play, should your first choice not be appropriate to our needs, and a short biography of your musical training and background.

2. An audio recording of you, performing an entire movement from the work you wish to play,
with accompaniment.  This submission (in mp3 file format) must be attached to your online application.

All works must be for soloist and orchestra.
Works for solo instrument alone or soloist and piano are not acceptable.
EXCERPTS or SINGLE MOVEMENTS from multi-movement works ARE NOT acceptable.

Video submissions are not acceptable.

  (Please contact us if you encounter technical difficulties in submitting your audio file online.)

3. A confidential letter of recommendation from your current private music teacher (Hard copy only--this letter should be sent within 2 weeks of submitting your online application materials).
Mail To:

Island Symphony Orchestra
Young Performers’ Competition
P.O. Box 2185
Brentwood, NY 11717

Deadline:  To be announced

All winners are expected to play a complete work at a Spring concert scheduled with the ISO.

This year, Finalists will be selected by a committee of orchestra members and contacted in late 2019/early 2020.

Live auditions will be scheduled in January 2020, and the winners announced by February 2020.

Cash scholarship awards will be presented at the June public concert performance only.

All submissions become the property of the ISO and will not be returned.

Previous First Prize winners are ineligible to reapply.



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