The Jacqueline Avent Summer Music Scholarship Fund was established by Walter E. Nance, M.D., C’54, and Mayna Avent Nance, in memory of her sister, Jacqueline Avent. The purpose of the competition is to award scholarships to outstanding concerto competition winners, and celebrate the artistic excellence of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. 

All students of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival are invited to enter the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition, held in the first week of the Festival. 

Early rounds of the concerto competition will be held online. Finalists will be invited to perform their entire submission live during the first week fo the festival. From that round, up to six winners will be selected to perform with the Festival Orchestra during the final week of the Festival.


All festival participants are eligible to compete in the concerto competition. The competition will be judged in two divisions:

  • Senior Division – instrumental and vocal. In order to qualify for this division, you must have completed at least one year of college.
  • Pre-college instrumental only – open to anyone who has not yet attended college. 


General guidelines for all participants

Please verify the availability of your concerto in advance of entering the competition. Orchestral parts that are difficult or expensive to source, or who’s rental may be delayed may not be selected for final performance, and will be a factor in determining your final selection as a performer. In addition, you should factor in the difficulty of your orchestral parts, as that will inform final selection. Works that require extensive rehearsal time will not be considered. 

As an example, the Schwanter percussion concerto is an extensive orchestral work, with significant instrumentation challenges, and would not be a good selection for this competition.

Your entire selection should not exceed 15 minutes. If necessary, you can make cuts in your piece, or select a single movement of a multi movement work.

Concerto Competition FAQ

Who can participate in the Concerto Competition?

Anyone currently enrolled in the SSMF who plays an orchestral instrument, piano, or voice. All ages are welcome. The Concerto Competition is open to individual students playing concertos. Duos or trios are not eligible.

Is there a repertoire list, or can I play anything?

There is no set repertoire list, but selections must have an available orchestral accompaniment by rental or purchase at a reasonable rate. Works may be a single movement of a multi-movement work (such as a Mozart Violin Concerto movement) or a stand-alone work (without movements, such as Carnival of Venice for trumpet) of no more than 15 minutes duration. Careful consideration should be put into choosing a piece. For example, a work requiring extensive orchestral rehearsal time, or one with limited audience appeal, might hinder a candidate’s chances. In addition, expensive or hard to find rental works should be avoided if possible, and will be a determining factor when final selections are made. 

How many rounds are there?

There are a total of 3 rounds; a pre-screening video round, and two in person live rounds during week one of the festival. All rounds are evaluated by Festival faculty. 

How are applications judged?

Students are judged on their artistry and mastery, and the judges’ assessment of which performances will best represent the Festival.

Do I have to let the SSMF Staff know that I want to apply before the Festival begins?

Yes. To enter, fill out the web form, include your pre-screening link AND upload a scanned copy of the piano accompaniment no later than the deadline, which will be announced to admitted participants when the registration information is distributed.

May I use music?

All performers in the Concerto Competition must play from memory in the semi final and final rounds, as well as in performance with the Festival Orchestra. 

What do I do about an accompanist?

The Festival will supply an accompanist. You will have a short rehearsal. You must provide an original copy of the piano accompaniment music for the competition.

When do I audition?

Preliminary round will happen via video audition, semi final and final round will be held during the first week of the Festival, so come prepared to audition!

What happens if I win?

You will perform with the Festival Orchestra during the final week of the Music Festival! Competition winners are eligible for the Jacqueline Avent Music Scholarship awards for the following summer, as well as other potential opportunities. 

How do I enter?

All deposited participants will be sent a pre-screening application in the spring of 2024. Once you complete that form and submit your pre-screening video, you will be entered in the concerto competition

Registration for the 2024 Competition will be sent to admitted participants closer to the start of the festival.

Photos by David Andrews