Vernon L. Wiscarson Young Musicians’ Competition

Oregon Symphony in Salem sponsors a prestigious instrumental music competition for talented youth in the mid-Willamette Valley. The Vernon L. Wiscarson Young Musicians’ Competition encourages serious young musicians to hone their performance skills by participating in a juried competition. The awards, currently the largest cash prizes for music students in Oregon, are funded through an endowment made possible by the family of Vernon L. Wiscarson, a Salem music educator, local business owner, and longtime arts supporter.

The competition, established in 1980, is held on the campus of Western Oregon University each March and is free to the public. Adjudicators come from the Oregon Symphony and universities in the area. First place winners receive a cash prize of $600, second place winners $300, third place winners $200, and honorable mention winners $100. Winners may also receive invitations to Symphony rehearsals and opportunities to perform. Past winners have gone on to study at prestigious institutions of higher learning and even to win the Oregon Symphony in Salem’s Music Educator of the Year Award.

Oregon Symphony in Salem encourages all talented young musicians to submit an application for the competition. The competition is open to students through their senior year in high school from Marion, Polk, Benton, Linn, and Yamhill counties.

Contestants will perform a solo piece of ten minutes or less that appears on multiple lists of standard repertoire with orchestral or large ensemble accompaniment and that would be at a difficulty level suitable for a collegiate audition. The piece will be selected by the contestant and may be a movement or movements from a larger work. The music must be memorized.

Entrance forms are available now. We will accept submissions for the 2020 competition through February 9, 2020. For more information, contact

Download Entrance Form


2019 Winners

1st place: Ryan Babe, cello
West Salem High School (far left)
2nd Place: Avery Hsieh, violin
Corvallis High School (far right)
3rd Place: Iris Fu, flute
Crescent Valley High School (not pictured)

Honorable mentions: Israel Perez, flute (middle right); Benjamin Frueh, violin (middle left); and Julie Chen, flute (not pictured)

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