Duke Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition

“There is no top. There are always further heights to reach.”
– Jascha Heifetz

Each year, the Duke Music Department hosts the Duke Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, which provides an opportunity for students to audition for and be selected to perform a concerted work with the DSO as part of the educational experience of all involved.

A general outline of events connected with the annual Concerto Competition is included below. A copy of these guidelines—including eligibility, repertoire, and procedural requirements—will be posted on the bulletin board outside Professor Davidson’s office (077 Biddle) and is also available from applied music faculty and the Music Department Office. For questions regarding this schedule or any matter concerning the Concerto Competition, please e-mail Professor Davidson.


The competition is open to any Duke University student (including undergraduate, graduate, music major, and non-music major students). A student who has been selected to perform is ineligible to audition during the following year.


Repertoire should consist of a single-movement work, a movement or combination of movements, or 1 or 2 arias from the standard literature. The same movement(s) or excerpts must be performed at both the competition and the concert(s). The maximum performance length will be 20 minutes.


The Music Director will announce the date of the competition approximately 2 months in advance. Students must apply and have their repertoire approved by the Music Director by at least 1 month after the competition is initially announced and 2 weeks prior to the day of the competition. If requested, the student must provide a full orchestral score to the Music Director in advance of this date. Applications are available from applied music faculty, the Music Director, or from the Music Department Office.

One week prior to the competition, the Music Director will announce the competition schedule, including an assigned time for each auditionee. Any changes to the published schedule must be approved by the Music Director and are generally discouraged.

An accompanist is required for each auditionee, and it will be the responsibility of each auditionee to secure one.

Auditionees must perform from memory during the competition, and at the concert if selected. Any exemptions from this rule will be decided solely by the Music Director. Such exemptions will only be granted in the cases of instrumental performance practice or difficulty of contemporary literature.


The jury for the competition shall consist of a minimum of two or as many as three Music Department faculty members with the Music Director serving as facilitator and advisor. Each auditionee must provide a copy of their concerto score for the jury, which is charged with selecting the performance(s) of the highest caliber. Written comments from each jury member are required. The evaluation system used by the jury will be at its own collective discretion.

In conjunction with the Duke Symphony Orchestra’s programming for the academic year, the jury will select a student or students to perform with the Orchestra on its final regularly-scheduled concerts of the spring semester. However, the jury should limit itself to a total of one or two 20-minute pieces of music, respectively. The Music Director will advise jury members in this regard. Honorable Mentions may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion.


A pianist plays (accompanied by the orchestra) during the Concerto Winner's Concert.