Kamuela Philharmonic’s youth concerto competition goes virtual

  • “Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition” 2019 competitors are pictured. (Courtesy photo by Bam Bam Agency/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • The competitors who took part in the 2019 “Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition” are pictured. (Courtesy photo by Bam Bam Agency/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Flutist Kiana Kawahara, 16, won the 2018 competition with Chaminade Concertino for Flute and Orchestra. (Courtesy photo by Steven Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Trumpeter Davan Sagara, 17, won the 2018 competition with Arutunian Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. (Courtesy photo by Steven Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Ten-year-old pianist Isabella Liu won the 2018 competition with Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, Mvt. 1. (Courtesy photo by Steven Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

For the first time, the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra will conduct its annual “Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition” online.

In a typical season, unaffected by a global pandemic such as COVID-19, contest participants would compete at a venue on Hawaii Island with around 50 people in attendance, and a panel of judges would select a winner from each age bracket: 12 years and under, 13 to 15 years, and 16 to 18 years.


While a panel of judges will still choose the winning performances, to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the competition, how the young musicians compete will be significantly different this season.

Participants will submit a high-quality video recording of themselves performing (by memory) one movement of a selected piece from standard orchestral repertoire (with piano accompaniment) to the Kamuela Philharmonic as their entry. The judges will then choose the winners of each age bracket.

This season’s competition features young woodwind, brass, percussion, and piano players from around the state. Winners will be announced Jan. 8, 2021.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has halted many events around the world, we believe it is paramount for our young Hawaii music students that we carry on with this season’s competition,” said Brian Dollinger, artistic director and conductor of the Kamuela Philharmonic. “We believe that with the use of available technologies, we can move forward with the competition auditions in a safe manner for the students, their accompanists, the judges, and the public as a whole. These young performers work extremely hard on their craft, and we want there to be as many opportunities for them as possible.

Winners will receive scholarship awards, as well as the opportunity to perform their solos with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra during one of its upcoming concerts at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

To enter the 2020-21 “Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition,” all audition application materials must be received no later than Dec. 19.


The competition honors Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra founder and conductor emeritus Madeline Schatz-Harris, who recognized and admired the talent exhibited by many young music students in Hawaii and came up with the idea of holding an annual concerto competition as a showcase for that talent. It was the first of its kind in the state.

For more information on the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.kamuelaphil.org.

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