Pianist Elizabeth Phillips was the first prize winner at the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s 2017 College Concerto Competition, which took place on Saturday, April 15 at the Steinway Piano Gallery. Second prize was awarded to cellist Aaron Hauser, and third prize went to cellist Natalie Kepple and pianist John Etsell.

The Reno Chamber Orchestra extends its thanks to all the extremely talented competitors as well as to judges Anna Presler, Mary Miller, and Theodore Kuchar; accompanists Hyeyeon Park, Andrea Lenz, and James Winn; to the Steinway Piano Gallery; and to The Bretzlaff Foundation for once again providing funding for the Competition.



The Reno Chamber Orchestra is devoted to the encouragement of high proficiency in musical performance among student musicians. To this end, the Orchestra has established and maintains an annual competition for college-level instrumentalists, and awards prizes to contest winners.


Applications will be accepted from all standard orchestral instruments, provided the concerto chosen for that instrument can be played by a chamber orchestra. If you have a question about this, please ask before applying.


Applicants must be full-time college students (graduate or undergraduate) and enrolled in a University of Nevada System college, or Nevada residents enrolled in an out-of-state institution. Competitors may be asked to provide proof of residency and/or enrollment. Past first-prize winners of RCO College Concerto Competitions are ineligible to compete again.


The competition will be held on Saturday, April 15, 2017 (starting time TBA, depending on the number of applicants) at Steinway Piano Gallery at 500 E. Moana Lane in Reno, Nevada. The competition is free and open to the public.


The following cash prizes may be awarded:
First place: $2,000
Second place: $1,000
Third place: $500

At the discretion of the judges, the winner of the competition may be invited to perform at a future Reno Chamber Orchestra event. The decision of the judges is final. All applicants will receive written comments from the judges.


A non-refundable $50 entry fee must accompany the application. Checks should be made payable to: Reno Chamber Orchestra.


Applications, including the $50 entry fee, must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Four copies (one of which must be an original for the accompanist) of the applicant’s entire concerto (piano accompaniment with solo line is preferred) must be received in the RCO office by April 5, 2017. The copies will be returned to the competitor, or recycled, upon the conclusion of the competition.

The application form, fee of $50, and copies of music should all be sent to:

Reno Chamber Orchestra
College Concerto Competition
925 Riverside Dr. Ste. 5
Reno, NV 89503

You can download the application form by CLICKING HERE.

Or they can be dropped off at the RCO office on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

There will be no preliminary round. All applicants will play their concerto only. MEMORIZATION IS REQUIRED. The selection must be performable with a chamber orchestra and chosen from the standard repertoire. (If you are not sure whether or not your piece is appropriate for chamber orchestra, please contact the Reno Chamber Orchestra before applying.) The piece may be no longer than 35 minutes in total duration. In all cases, the contestant will start at the solo entrance (cutting long orchestral expositions). If the contestant’s piece is longer than twenty minutes in duration, the contestant will play according to the following scheme:

8 minutes of the 1st Movement + cadenza
5 minutes of the 2nd Movement
5 minutes of the 3rd Movement

Should the contestant’s piece not follow this form (i.e. single movement work, four movement work, cadenza in a movement other than 1st, etc.) a comparably representative portion of the work will be selected. The participant should be prepared to play the entire concerto. At the discretion of the judges, the contestant may be stopped in mid-performance if time runs over. If a contestant is stopped it is in no way a reflection on his or her playing. The contestant should simply move on to the next movement as directed by the judges.


vThe Reno Chamber Orchestra will provide an accompanist for participants, but you may provide your own.


Applicants are responsible for their own travel to and from the competition.


Free housing is available. Indicate the need for housing on the application form. RCO Board members kindly open their homes to contestants; however, it is necessary for contestants to contact the RCO office (775-348-9413) to confirm reservations by the April 5, 2017 deadline. Otherwise it is assumed the contestant does not need housing.

If you have any further questions regarding the College Concerto Competition, please contact Kati Dayner at 415-722-0250, kati@renochamberorchestra.org, or info@renochamberorchestra.org.

Apply Online

2016 Competition Results

Pianist Bryan Chuan was the first prize winner in the RCO's 27th annual College Concerto Competition, which took place on February 21, 2016 at UNR's Nightingale Concert Hall. He will perform the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Brahms with the RCO and Maestro Theodore Kuchar on Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m. at UNR's Nightingale Concert Hall. The Competition's second prize went to cellist Natalie Kepple, and third prize to flutist Lynn Tsai. The RCO extends its congratulations and thanks to all the Competition participants.

The RCO's College Concerto Competition is the only competition of its kind in the state of Nevada. The participants, who must either attend a Nevada college or be a Nevada resident attending college out of state, compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to appear as soloist with the RCO in one of its regular season concerts. Competitors will receive detailed written comments on their performance from the distinguished panel of judges. Past Competition participants have gone on to significant careers as soloists, orchestral musicians, and teachers.

The College Concerto Competition, and the RCO concerts at which the Competition winner performs, are made possible by a generous grant from The Bretzlaff Foundation.

From left to right: Cellist Xiao Lai Zhou (2015 Competition winner), flutist Carmella Cao (2014 Competition winner), violist Kayleigh Miller (2012-13 Competition winner), and cellist Matthew Linaman (2012 Competition winner) performing with the Reno Chamber Orchestra.

Zhou Golka and RCO 3-15

Carmella Cao and RCO 4-14

Kayleigh Miller with RCO 1-13

Matt Linaman with RCO