Texas Young Artists Music Competition Returns in Expanded Form to Conroe

Opera singer

After a two-year hiatus, the Texas Young Artists Music Competition returns this weekend, continuing its nearly 40-year legacy at Conroe.

Once again, the music competition will feature classical artists ages 18-30 or 20-32 for the voice competition who are Texas residents or affiliated with a Texas music school. Preliminary rounds begin Thursday and continue Friday and Saturday morning.

Then, on Saturday evening, the Bach, Beethoven and BBQ gala in front of the Crighton Theatre, the finalists’ concert at the Crighton Theater and the YTA Afterparty.

New this year, exhibitions of art, poetry and dance. An art exhibit is at 1 p.m. Friday at 202 Main in downtown Conroe. A contemporary dance showcase is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at 202 Main. On Sundays, The Red Brick Tavern downtown hosts a poetry showcase at 3:30 p.m.

“After almost every concert and awards program, someone approaches me in awe of the inspiring talent they just saw and heard,” said Susie Moore Pokorski, President and CEO of Young Texas. Artists (YTA), which presents the competition. “And I get it – if you’re new to our audience, it’s hard to anticipate the level of excellence that our competitors attract. It’s this talent and passion of our young competing artists that drives our continued commitment to be a source of encouragement, support and opportunities for growth.

Young Texas Artists, founded in 1983 in Conroe, is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit presenter of music competitions and events, career development programs, and cultural enrichment outreach.

Named the Official State of Texas Musical Contest, it is one of the few competitions in the country with four performance divisions, including voice, piano, strings and winds, brass, percussion, harp and guitar.

This year’s contestants are vying for a share of $40,000 in monetary prizes — double the amount offered in the last competition in 2019 — as well as mentorship and performance opportunities.

The public is invited to the preliminary rounds of their competition and participation is free. The lineup includes the Strings Division Preliminaries at 9 a.m. Thursday; winds, brass, percussion, harp and guitar at 9 a.m. on Friday; Voice at 2:30 p.m. Friday and Piano at 9 a.m. Saturday. These rounds will all take place at the Crighton Theatre.

At the finalists’ concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the top two finalists in each category will perform and gold and silver medals will be awarded for each division. YTA will also present the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize.

Judges for the competition include – Miyoko Lotto, a pianist who is on the faculty of New York University, Manhattan School of Music and the Perlman Music Program; Brian Luce, a flute player who is a professor of flute at the University of Arizona and a Yamaha performing artist; Bradley Mansell, cellist, member of the Nashville Symphony and award-winning educator. Roger Pines, a familiar voice on Metropolitan Opera broadcasts’ “Opera Quiz” since the 2005-06 season, recently completed his 26-year tenure at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and violinist Maria Schleuning served as a member of the Symphony Orchestra of Dallas since 1994 and has been a featured soloist with him and many other American orchestras.

The Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue Gala begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday and features a Texas BBQ dinner, dancing to Texas swing music, and a live auction. The action takes place in the Grand Pavilion of the YTA in front of the Crighton Theatre.

Next, St. John Flynn, former director of arts and culture for Houston Public Media, will host the Finalists’ Concert & Awards program at the Crighton Theatre. Flynn is a writer, speaker, and arts and culture consultant, and he recently served as producer and host of YTA’s four-part video series, “YTA Insights – A Journey Into the World of Classical Music,” which is still available on YTA’s Facebook page. at https://www.facebook.com/YoungTexasArtists/videos and the YTA YouTube channel on https://bit.ly/3KzFdhF.

Baritone Michael Mayes, 2002 YTA Gold Medalist in Voice and internationally acclaimed opera singer, will be guest of honor at the Finalists’ Concert & Awards and the Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue Gala.

Mayes, who grew up on Cut and Shoot, has played leading roles with major corporations, wowing audiences across the United States and Europe. During the YTA awards program, Mayes will sing and share ideas about her career.

“Hearing Michael, whether he’s describing the power of opera or performing an aria, is an electric experience,” Pokorski said. “We know audiences will be mesmerized by her story and magnetic stage presence.”

Following the announcement of the winners at approximately 9:45 p.m., the festivities continue with the YTA Afterparty, sponsored by the Conroe Service League. The evening will feature another performance by Mayes, as well as live Texas music, desserts and champagne toasts for the contest winners.

Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue bookings include all weekend programming. The events can also be followed separately, including the concert and the prizes of the finalists. Admission to the concert is $30 for adults and $16 for students.

Tickets are available at https://www.ytamc.com/bach-beethoven-barbecue.

To visit www.ytamc.com for more information on the Texas Young Artists Music Competition.

[email protected]