Norbert Mueller Concert Competition

January 9, 2021

Click here for full letter and application.

The Holland Symphony Orchestra Norbert Mueller Memorial Concerto Competition will happen this year on Saturday, January 9, 2021.  The format may look different this year, depending on the COVID-19 situation.  We will announce the specifics of the competition in mid-November 2020.

Eligibility: Contestants must be currently enrolled students at one of these area high schools (9th-12th grade): Holland Public, Holland Christian, Holland Black River, West Ottawa, Zeeland, Hamilton, Saugatuck, or Grand Haven or any current member of Holland Symphony Youth Orchestras. High school aged home-schooled students living in the above school districts are also eligible. A regular high school aged student of any current Holland Symphony Orchestra member (regardless of geographic area) is eligible. All instruments including piano are eligible. Ordinarily, the previous year’s winner is ineligible for the following year but may audition a second time after a one-year absence. If there is no performance for the winner of the 2021 competition, that person will be eligible to enter the 2022 competition, as long as he/she meets other eligibility requirements. Each entry will have a $25.00 application fee.

Repertoire: The choice of music is up to the contestant but must have an orchestral accompaniment available to HSO and a rental fee of $250.00 or less. If in doubt, please check availability and/or cost of orchestral accompaniment by contacting the orchestra office (hso@hollandsymphony.org) ahead of your picking a concerto. (If accompaniment rental is above $250, the remaining cost will be the responsibility of the contestant.) Any standard work for solo and orchestra or movement of a standard concerto is acceptable, and it must have a total playing time of between 5-15 minutes. The work must be performed by memory, and the contestants must provide their own accompanist for the audition. (Please note that both upper and lower time limits will be strictly observed. If longer than the time allotted, please make the necessary cuts to comply.)

Audition time: Contestants will be notified by December 31st of their competition time. The competition will begin at 1:00 PM and will be held at Midtown Center in Holland. (Hope College is not permitting any non-Hope personnel or organizations on campus due to COVID-19). Audition times will be randomly selected and are not negotiable. Contestants arriving after their scheduled audition time may be disqualified. The competition will be closed to the public. The participant will perform for a professional videographer, a back-up videographer, and two in-person judges. A third judge will watch the videos after the competition. No personal videos are allowed.

Awards: The winner will receive $500.00 and will perform with the Holland Symphony Orchestra, if possible, on a concert TBD in spring or summer, 2021. The winner will be asked to participate in an on-stage interview with the conductor and will need to sign a release for marketing materials. The second-place winner will receive $250.00 and the third place winner will receive $150.00. There will be no awards ceremony this year, and results will be announced within 7 days of the competition. Participants are encouraged to leave after they play.

Minimum number of participants: HSO will only run the concerto competition if five or more students are participating. HSO will issue full refunds if the competition is cancelled.

Additional COVID-19 guidelines: HSO will sanitize surfaces that are touched by more than one person in between each use. All people, including participants and accompanists, should be at least six feet apart at all times. Separate warm-up spaces will be provided for each participant. Midtown Center requires that everyone wear a mask at all times. The only exception will be for woodwind/brass players while they are playing. There will be at least ten minutes between each performance to disinfect the piano and other surfaces, and to allow some air exchange in the room. If conditions change in Michigan and the Michigan and Ottawa County Health Departments restrict gatherings in such a way that the concerto competition would be affected, we will modify the format and communicate with participants as soon as possible.

2020 Competition Winners:


Emma Hakken, violin; Eleni Persinger, violin; Mason Ouzts, clarinet

First Place Winner:


Mason Ouzts, clarinet

2020 Participants:


From left to right: Brandon Blake, Abby Hilsman, Emma Hakken, Eleni Persinger, Mason Ouzts, Grayson “Sander” Owens.