Salute To Youth – A Solo and Ensemble Festival

The Solo and Ensemble Festival is for all instrumental musicians (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, and harp) age 20 and under in Cumberland County and adjacent counties.  Students may participate as a soloist and/or in an ensemble.  All students that enter will receive a voucher to attend Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra concerts.  Participants that receive a Superior rating will also receive an award, and the possibility of performing on a Fayetteville Symphony concert honoring the talented youth in our area.  A solo is one (1) musician with an accompanist (if possible).  An ensemble is 2 or more musicians, up to 12 musicians, with or without an accompanist.

Division Levels

Musicians will be divided into a Junior and Senior divisions according to age:

Junior Division – Age 14 and under or 8th grade and under
Senior Division – Age 15-20 or 9th grade and older

Music Levels

Participants may enter Junior or Senior division on six (6) grade levels designated according to music difficulty.  Each of the following levels will be open to any music student in Cumberland county and adjacent counties.

1 – Easy4 – Moderate Difficult
2 – Moderate Easy5 – Difficult
3 – Average6 – Very Difficult

Guideline to Determine Level:

Strings Guideline:

1 – EasySuzuki Book 1, Essential Elements Book 1, or equivalent
2 – Moderate EasySuzuki Book 2, Essential Elements Book 2, or equivalent
3 – AverageSuzuki Book 3 or equivalent
4 – Moderate DifficultSuzuki Book 4-5 or equivalent
5 – DifficultSuzuki Book 6-7 or equivalent
6 – Very DifficultConcerto Level (Suzuki book 8 and above or equivalent)

Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion Guideline:

1 – Easy1st year band
2 – Moderate Easy2nd year band
3 – Average3rd year band
4 – Moderate Difficult9th-10th grade band
5 – Difficult11th-12 grade band
6 – Very DifficultConcerto Level or College Level

Rating System:

The FSO Festival will use a five rating plan for judging all solos and ensembles:

I – Superior

II – Excellent

III – Average

IV – Fair

V – Poor

Rating ISuperior – The best possible performance.  Score = 96-100  
Rating IIExcellent – A performance of distinctive quality but not worth yof the highest rating due to minor defects in performance.  Score = 90-95  
Rating IIIAverage – A performance showing some accomplishment and promise but lacking in essential musical qualities.  Score = 80-89  
Rating IVFair – This is a performance that is weak and uncertain.  Score = 74-79  
Rating VPoor – A performance that reveals lack of preparedness and musical understanding.

Rating Sheets

The rating sheet of each performance will be emailed to the performer after the performances have been evaluated by the judges.


All students that participate will be given a voucher to attend a Fayetteville Symphony Concert.  Students that receive a I or Superior rating will receive an award.  Several students that receive Superior ratings will be chosen by the judges to perform their piece at a Fayetteville Symphony sponsored concert, honoring their achievement. 


While an accompanist is not required, we still strongly encourage all musicians to have an accompanist unless the performance piece is specifically written to be performed unaccompanied. 

Music for Adjudicators

A complete measure-numbered score for each ensemble or a measure-numbered solo for each soloist must be provided for the adjudicator.  Participants will be required to upload a scanned copy of the music in their application form. Failure to provide this music will result in a penalty of one rating lower.

Performance Information

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Solo and Ensemble Festival participation will occur virtually. All participants must record a maximum of ten (10) minutes of their chosen piece. In works that are more than ten (10) minutes, music may be appropriately cut.

Submission of your performance will require you to include a direct URL link to an unlisted YouTube video, Google Drive file, or Dropbox file in your application form. Please make sure that the settings of your video allow viewers with the link to view the video.

Festival Application Deadline and Fees

Solo Application fee = $20

Ensemble Application fee = $35

The Solo and Ensemble Festival application is now closed.


Featured Musician

Emily Austin Smith – Cello

es_9Cellist Emily Austin Smith has maintained an active teaching and performing career in Durham, North Carolina. She currently performs with the Durham Symphony, the Fayetteville Symphony, and the Duke New Music Ensemble, as a substitute with the North Carolina Symphony, and in various chamber music settings. She teaches a private studio of cello students both in her home and at High Strung School of Music in Durham, and works at the Durham nucleo of Kidznotes, an El Sistema inspired orchestral training program.

Emily has attended the Texas Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Encore School for Strings, Indiana University Summer String Academy, Kansas City String Quartet Program, and the Heartland Chamber Music Academy, where she appeared as a soloist with the chamber orchestra at the age of 14. While a student in Baltimore, Emily performed with the Occasional Symphony, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, and the Peabody Camerata, and was involved with Classical Revolution Baltimore and the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program.

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Emily completed her bachelor’s degrees in Cello Performance and English and her master’s degree in Cello Performance and Pedagogy at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Alan Stepansky, former Associate Principal Cellist of the New York Philharmonic. During her time at the Peabody Institute and the Johns Hopkins University, Emily was the recipient of the B&O Women’s Club Award in Performance and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society

To Educate. To Entertain. To Inspire.

The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1956 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is a professional, regional orchestra whose mission is to educate, entertain, and inspire the citizens of the Fayetteville, North Carolina region as the leading musical resource.  Praised for its artistic excellence, the Symphony leads in the cultural and educational landscape for Fayetteville and the southeastern North Carolina region.

The Fayetteville Symphony typically performs 8 concerts during any given season performing both at Methodist University and Fayetteville State University. Partnerships with other agencies include collaborative performances with Cape Fear Regional Theatre, chamber concerts at St. John’s Episcopal Church, as well as the city’s annual Independence concert with fireworks. The Symphony brings music to the schools and the community by performing educational concerts, as well as having its own Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra, after school strings and summer music camps.

This organization is supported in part by a space grant from the BB&T Term Endowment of Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc.

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