2018–2019 Board Members


Karen Lundmark Holmes
Julie Haight-Curran
Mariellen Jacobson
Amy Skemp
Holly Duevel


Inez Bergquist
Alice Cederberg
Rolf Erdahl
Marjorie Frishberg
Bonnie Gainsley
Karen Koepp
Pat Krueger
Ravyn Miller
Kathleen Kay Simo
Clare Zupetz


David Colwell

Questions or comments for the Young People's Symphony Concert Association? Complete the form below. For your privacy, this will NOT include you in our e-mail list.

You are also welcome to join the YPSCA e-mail list – it’s one of the best ways to receive up-to-date information and news. Sign up here.

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You may also write us at this address:

YPSCA President
Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at concerts and events!

All YPSCA members are encouraged to engage with our programs and to attend Young People’s Concerts and additional concerts by the Minnesota Orchestra. YPSCA members also receive invitations to our Annual Meeting and other special events throughout the year, often with wonderful music: a fall luncheon, a December martini party, the SMA finals, an appreciation reception and an annual spring luncheon.

Joining YPSCA and supporting its programs is easy: just complete this form. You can also feel good knowing that all membership fees and gifts in support of programs go directly to further YPSCA’s mission: sharing with young people a deep appreciation of classical music and encouraging their engagement with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Join now!

YPSCA Committees and Volunteer Opportunities

YPSCA offers many opportunities to help. Use our Membership/Donation Form to let us know what interests you the most, or contact us.

YP Volunteer Usher Program

Members serve as volunteer ushers for Young People’s concerts, helping professional staff guide students and teachers in and out of Orchestra Hall, making them feel welcome and providing a friendly public face for the Minnesota Orchestra.

Volunteer Usher Information

Musical Mentors

Members help identify and select school districts to receive YPSCA support, based on economic need, enabling their students to participate in Young People Concerts. Additional responsibilities: preparing an annual budget for board approval that includes tickets, buses and an in-school educational program, and maintaining the Musical Mentor donor records and database. 

Musical Mentors Information

Concerto Competition

Members plan and carry out all aspects of the annual competition, including recruiting talented young participants, judges and volunteers, securing venues and managing all stages of the competition.

Concerto Competition Information

Special Projects

Members help with candy sales to raise funds at movie-themed concerts or with other projects as appropriate.


Members plan fundraising efforts for all programs and coordinate donor appreciation. They cultivate relationships with donors and potential donors and advocate on behalf of the Young People’s Symphony Concert Association. 


Members plan and coordinate membership drives and work to help make members feel welcome and engaged. 


Members assist in the financial planning and reporting for YPSCA, helping assure the continuing fiscal health and services of our organization.


Members of this committee plan and coordinate receptions and recognition events and oversee arrangements for member events and social gatherings, including food and settings. 


Members plan and coordinate promotion of YPSCA activities and purposes to the Membership and the larger community. They work through publications of the Orchestra and local communities, the YPSCA website and other potential media. Photographers welcome!

YPSCA volunteer ushers perform an important task, greeting and welcoming entire busloads of students as they enter Orchestra Hall, full of excitement for the Young People’s Concert they are about to attend. YPSCA ushers work closely with the Orchestra Hall staff and professional ushers to ensure that each school or homeschool group entering the lobby is led to the correct door of the concert auditorium, sometimes after being directed to particular staircases to reach the balconies, and then escorted swiftly and smoothly to their seats in the various sections of the concert hall.

This may sound simple, but consider that on most days two Young People’s Concerts are performed. More than a thousand students are welcomed and guided to their seats for the first performance. Then, within only about 30 minutes, the first audience is escorted out and the second is greeted and seated. This process involves some amazing choreography, and YPSCA ushers are key to keeping it moving smoothly.

YPSCA volunteer ushers can attend the Young People’s Concerts for which they volunteer. In addition, they receive discounted and/or complimentary tickets to Minnesota Orchestra concerts after completing multiple shifts. Of course, they share immediately in the thrill the students feel at each Young People’s Concert – full of anticipation when they enter Orchestra Hall, fascination as they attend the concert and still more excitement when they talk about it after the concert. This is why many ushers volunteer year after year.

Please join our dedicated YPSCA usher team. Learn more about becoming a YPSCA usher and sign up here.

Read about this season’s Young People’s Concerts.

Finalists, all prizewinners, of the 2019 competition (photo by Matt Brenengen)

Nita Qiu takes top honors at YPSCA’s 62nd Annual Concerto Competition

On February 3, 2019, audience members in Orchestra Hall felt the electricity of great music, brilliantly performed, as nine outstanding young musicians competed in the final round of YPSCA’s Concerto Competition. Pianist Nita Qiu, age 16, won with a performance of the second and third movements of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto that brought her both the top monetary award, $1,500 from the Edwin and Edith Norberg Fund, and the opportunity to perform as soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra in Young People’s Concerts next season. Nita, who lives in Woodbury, is an 11th-grader at Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan and studies piano with Dr. Joseph Zins of St. Paul.

In addition to the honor won by Nita Qiu, other finalists each received at least one award:

  • Derek Hwang, 15, cello: the Edith Norberg Award and the Claire Givens Violins Award
  • Mae Monette, 16, piano: the Edwin Norberg Award
  • Jacqueline Pham, 16, piano: the Schmitt Music Award and the Minneapolis Music Teachers Forum Award
  • Vinh Nguyen, 18, piano: the Margaret Ankeny Award
  • Joseph Caswell, 15, piano: the Bonnie and Donn McLellan Award
  • Cate Carson, 16, violin: the Karen Lundmark Holmes Award
  • Joyce Zhao, 16, violin: the David Colwell Award
  • Kalina Lee, 14, oboe: the Judith and David Ranheim Award

Please join us in congratulating all the winners, and in thanking the generous donors of this year’s awards, which collectively total $7,100. We also thank our judges for the Finals: Minnesota Orchestra Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto, Orchestra violinist Pamela Arnstein and pianist Paul Shaw of the University of Minnesota; and for the Preliminary Audition: Mike Alexander, Michelle Frisch, Ivan Konev, Pamela Shaffer-Reinhard, Leslie Shank and Jeffrey Stirling.

Last but not least, kudos to our volunteers! Topping the list are Concerto Competition Co-Chairs Mariellen Jacobson and Julie Haight-Curran, who committed countless hours to recruiting, planning and organizing everything and everyone required for the Prelims, Finals, reception and awards ceremony. They were ably supported by dedicated YPSCA members who filled greatly varied roles, all essential to making the Competition a success. Because of their work, YPSCA’s Competition goes beyond supporting young people’s involvement with the Minnesota Orchestra and the music it performs –– it helps shape the careers of top musicians of the future. Our heartfelt thanks to all who support YPSCA!

A Music Performance Competition for Talented Students

YPSCA holds an exciting annual event, the Young People's Concerto Competition (formerly called the School Music Auditions), for students in grades 7 through 12 in Minnesota and other Upper Midwest locations who are skilled at playing orchestral instruments or piano. Each contestant prepares a portion of a major work, such as a concerto movement, to perform from memory. At the Preliminary Auditions, performances are judged by professionals in each area: strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and keyboard.

Contestants who advance to the Finals will all ultimately receive a cash prize or scholarship; in a typical year, the total value of these prizes is more than $7,000. But only one finalist will claim the top prize – $1,500 plus the most coveted award of all, the opportunity to perform as soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra at a Young People’s Concert the following year. For the Finals, held on the Orchestra Hall stage, YPSCA welcomes members of the public to attend and to witness the riveting performances of these extraordinary young musicians.

Hard-working YPSCA volunteers carry out myriad tasks to ensure that the competition is a success from start to finish. They prepare announcements, review applications, select judges, handle registration, escort contestants to their warm-up and audition rooms, announce and time the performances, organize hospitality – and much more. If you’d like to be involved, contact us here, and join in the thrill of working with young musicians who make this competition a highlight of the musical season!

Kudos to Our Past Winners


In February 2018, our Competition winner was Emma Taggart, a 15-year-old pianist from Blaine, performing the opening movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. She is scheduled to appear with the Orchestra in two concert sets in spring of 2019, performing Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals in March and a movement of the Grieg A-minor Piano Concerto in May. She also won the Minnesota Music Teachers Forum award, which included a performance opportunity and a grant of $200. Taggart, a 10th-grader at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul, studies with Dr. Reid Smith of Dellwood.


Cellist Nygel Witherspoon won the Young People’s Concerto Competition in January 2017, performing the first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. At the time Witherspoon, of Minneapolis, was a 10th-grader at Connections Academy who studied with David Holmes of St. Louis Park. Witherspoon appeared with the Orchestra several times during the 2017-18 season, including in Young People’s Concerts in October and May.


In January 2016, a clarinetist took home the highest Concerto Competition prize. Anders Peterson, then a sophomore at Northfield High and a student of Dr. Jun Qian, chose Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet for his winning performance. In addition to his monetary award, he earned the privilege of performing with the Minnesota Orchestra at a Young People’s Concert in February 2017.


The 2015 winner was pianist Zhen Tu, then a 10th-grader at Eagan High School, who was the featured soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra at Young People’s Concerts in October 2015 and February 2016.

Here are all the talented performers who have won the Concerto Competition in the past.