Mary West Solo Competition

The Mary West Solo Competition is held annually in the fall for students of the violin, viola, cello, bass, harp and classical guitar. Participants must be MNSOTA members or students of MNSOTA members. Participants must live in Minnesota or study in Minnesota. Students in Elementary Division (age 11 and under ) and Intermediate Division (age 12 to 14) prepare one piece. Junior Division (age 15 to 18) and Senior Division (age 19 through 26*) students prepare two pieces in contrasting styles by different composers. Determine student's age as of January 1 of the current school year (as of 1/1/2022 for the November 2021 competition). Students whose birthday is January 1 should compete in the younger of the two categories.

*In October 2021, the MNSOTA Board decided to extend the age range for the Senior Division to "age 19 through 26" for the 2021 competition so that college students who missed the chance of competing last year can participate this year. We anticipate the age range will return to "age 19 through 25" for the competition next year.


Information you will need to register includes:

  • personal information including email

  • teacher’s ASTA membership number and expiration date; teacher's email

  • complete program information for your pieces

  • length of pieces as performed in a recital

  • accompanist’s name, phone & email

  • your brief (100 word) bio to be used in the program if you are selected for the Winners Recital

  • your credit-card payment ($40 Elementary and Intermediate; $55 Junior and Senior)

Rules Summary — download the PDF below for complete rules
Download the FAQs doc below for explanation of the rules

Students are required to play all works by memory, except Classical, Romantic or Modern sonatas.

Students must prepare complete works or complete single movements; cuts are encouraged in piano tutti sections. Because the audition time may be shorter than the entire length of the piece(s), teachers should suggest appropriate cuts for the audition presentation. However, students are expected to prepare the entire piece(s), and the judges may ask for any portion outside of the cuts the teacher suggests.

Elementary and Intermediate level students should prepare a maximum of 4 minutes of music from one piece;
Junior and Senior level students should prepare a maximum of 8 minutes of music from two contrasting pieces.

Elementary and Intermediate level students will be allocated a 6-minute time slot; Junior and Senior level students will be allocated a 10-minute time slot. Students will be stopped by the competition timer 4 or 8 minutes after they start, allowing the extra two minutes for passing time and tuning.

Covid Policies

Because of the continuing covid pandemic, MNSOTA is taking precautionary measures to promote the safety of everyone involved in our events. Please check back close to the audition / concert times for any changes to these guidelines.

As of September 2021:

  • For the Mary West Solo Competition on Saturday Nov 6, we request that everyone in the Augsburg music building wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status.

  • For the Winners Recital on Sunday Nov 14, at Lloyd Ultan Hall, the University of Minnesota requires all students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors to their campuses, offices, and facilities, statewide, to wear facial coverings while indoors, regardless of their vaccination status

  • For the Bloomington Symphony Concerto concert on Sunday Feb 27, please follow whatever guidelines are recommended by the BSO at that time.

Important Dates for 2021-2022

Tuesday October 19 - registration deadline

Saturday November 6, noon-6:00 pm — competition at Anderson Music Hall, Augsburg University; prelims expected noon–4:00, with call-backs after that. Street map. Campus map

Sunday November 14, 7:00 pm — Winners Recital at Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall, Ferguson Hall, UMN School of Music - map.

Sunday February 27, 2022, afternoon — Grand Prize Winner in performance with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (visit their website for more details).

For more information about the Mary West Solo Competition, contact Faith Farr at

Scheduling Guidelines.

Prelims will be held noon-4:15 pm. Those students playing a concerto may be asked to play a second time, at around 4:40–5:30 for the full panel of judges for consideration for the Givens Violins Grand Prize / Bloomington Symphony Concerto performance. Please plan on being available noon-4:15 if you are not playing a concerto, and noon-6:00 if you are playing a concerto.

- all students in the same age group must be heard by the judges in one block so judges can select winners from each age group for the Winners Recital

- scheduling is adjusted to give accompanists playing for many students a sensible schedule, especially if they need to switch rooms for different age groups during the prelims.

- New as of 10/7/21: Because the MYS Symphony dress rehearsal on the same afternoon involves students in both Intermediate and Junior Divisions, those age groups will be scheduled last in the afternoon with prelims ending around 4:15. Elementary and Senior Division age groups will have prelims scheduled earlier in the afternoon.

- the call-backs will be announced soon after the end of the prelims, when the judges have made a thoughtful decision. (If you are not playing a concerto, you will not be involved in call-backs, although you will be eligible to be selected to play in the Winners Recital.)

We regret that it is a long day for students involved in call-backs. We appreciate good humor from parents and students to help make the day go smoothly for everyone. If you are assigned an early audition time, please plan on filling the time until call-backs are announced. Bring a book or your homework; go to nearby restaurants.

Special Scheduling Requests

Because judges must hear students in the same age level in a block, we can accommodate special scheduling requests only within that block. If you have a special scheduling request, you must indicate it on the application form.

As of September 2021 we understand that the MYS Symphony is scheduled to have their dress rehearsal 1:10-3:10 pm on the Mary West Competition day (Saturday, November 6). We will attempt to schedule students with this conflict, who indicate their request on the application form, as close to 4 pm as the Mary West Competition schedule allows. Best times will be given to those who ask earliest.

More About Mary West

Minnesota Public Radio also has a very good biography of Mary West's life and teaching at: