Mid-Texas Symphony Young Artist Competition

Established in 1983, the Young Artist Competition (YAC) is held each year in the early Fall for college students engaged in the pursuit of a musical career who are associated with Texas in one of two ways: 1. Either live in or are from Texas 2. Attend an accredited Texas University or College. Competitors must be under 25 years of age on the day of the competition; with the exception being voice students who cannot be older than 30 years of age on the day of competition.

The winner of the competition wins $1000 and a contract to perform her/his winning piece with the Mid-Texas Symphony as a featured soloist. Mid-Texas Symphony YAC winners have gone on to perform as solo artists with orchestras all over the world. 

The competition has four categories: voice, winds, brass, and piano with each category offered once every four years.

This season's competition will be in voice. The competition date is November 19th, 2016 and applications are due on October 2nd, 2016.

Spotlight On 2015-2016 Winner

The winner of the 2015 Mid-Texas Symphony Young Artist Competition in Piano, Nathan Ryland, could be the poster child for Anders Ericsson’s study on success. The “10,000 Hour Rule” a study by Ericsson, attempts to prove that achieving greatness requires an inordinate amount of time, dedication and hard work – 10,000 hours of hard work to be exact.

“Ideally,” says 21-year old Ryland, “I practice at least three to four hours every day to keep all of my repertoire improving. That should add up to well past 1000 hours every year. I have probably spent somewhere from 10 to 15 thousand hours of my life at a piano.” 

Nathan Ryland, 2015-2016 Young Artist Competition Winner in Piano.

Nathan Ryland, 2015-2016 Young Artist Competition Winner in Piano.

Maestro David Mairs says of Ryland’s playing, “Nathan was competing against some really good pianists last November. But at the end of the day all of the judges agreed he was by far the best of the best. He has a finesse and feel for the music that is hard to find in most players at this stage of their development. We are very excited to feature him as a guest artist playing with our professional orchestra.” 

Ruggedly handsome with an athlete’s build Ryland says he is not a “natural” musician. He began playing at the age of five because the piano is one of the instruments most readily available to a five-year old. 

“My mom taught me the basics,” he says with a bright smile. “The piano was a very accessible instrument at that age. I didn’t especially love it,” he confesses. “Whatever skills I have now, I think are largely the result of my teachers and parents; prodding and countless hours of practice.” 

Currently a music major at the University of North Texas in Denton he admits the piano was not an always an all-consuming passion but by the time he was 13 or 14 he had begun to develop affection for the instrument, and its music. 

“I absolutely love it today. Honestly, sitting down at the piano and making music now feels more natural to me than conversation,” he shares. “My first ‘ah ha’ moment came when I had a program that included a big romantic Dohnanyi piece as well as Reflets dans l'eau by Debussy.  Playing that program was one of the first times I felt that I was really sharing meaning through music.”