The Mankato Symphony Offers Prizes Totaling $5000 – Competition Application Deadline December 15

    November 8th, 2023

    Mankato, MN – Thanks to a generous gift from the Mary Suedbeck Fund of the Mankato Area Foundation (MAF), the Mankato Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will offer two competitions for high schoolers, one for soloists and one for ensembles. Both will be held on Saturday, February 24 at the Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato. Cash prizes totaling $5000 will be awarded winners will have an opportunity to perform in a concert with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. The Ensemble Competition is open to all area 9th-12th grade students who perform on band or orchestral instruments. High school teachers who coach the ensembles will also receive a stipend. The Solo Concerto Competition is open to all high school solo instrumentalists throughout Minnesota. The deadline for applying is December 15th.

    The Mary Suedbeck Fund was established last year through the Mankato Area Foundation so young people might receive the financial support needed to pursue dreams that Suedbeck and many of her generation were by circumstances denied. Suedbeck was the grandmother of the grantor of this fund and was a remarkable woman who struggled to raise three children through the depression with a husband who became disabled in his twenties. Living in Blue Earth County, she ran a boarding house, took in laundry, and had little time for the more gracious aspects of life like art or music.

    The goal of the competition is to encourage high schoolers towards excellence in the arts. “A competition is an incredible motivator for young students,” says Bethel Balge, executive director of the MSO. “The prize money will help support the cost of their music lessons, musical scores, and instruments. And it’s incredibly exciting to perform with an orchestra, either as a section member or as a soloist. The Mankato Symphony is very thankful for the funding that has made this competition possible.”

    Last year’s first place winner was 16-year-old pianist Jacob Taggart, who received $1500 and who performed a solo with the Mankato Symphony in its season opening concert September 30. Taggart said, ‘As a young pianist, I was extremely inspired and honored to win this prestigious (MSO) award. I plan to minor in piano performance in college and continue to teach and perform music throughout my life.” A brass group from Waseca Public High School won the $2000 first prize in the Ensemble Competition and cellist Sophia Alexander won the $750 second prize in the Solo Competition.

    All information, including repertoire requirements, may be found or contact Competition Chair Megan Wehrwein at