Februray 3 & 4, 2024



Due Date: January 14, 2024
  • Performers must complete the application and submit the registration fee in order to perform.
  • Performers must be Arizona residents.
  • Performers must be in grades seven through twelve.
  • Early submission is advised. It is possible that all available slots for performers will be filled before the end of the application submission period. Any performers who apply within the submission period for whom there is no slot will be placed on a waiting list. If no slot becomes available, the performer will be informed, and their entry fee returned.
  • No application refunds will be given in the event of performer withdrawal.

Dates & Times:

  • The Competition will be held on Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4
    • The times in the table below are the estimated window for each division. We ask families to please reserve the entire duration of the competition until performers receive their exact timeslot.
    • Divisions may begin earlier or later depending on the number of entrants.
  • Performers will be notified of their exact timeslot by January 19, 2024.
    • Performers may perform only during their division’s window.
  • Performers will be assigned an arrival time that is roughly 15 minutes before their scheduled warm-up time.
Division Date Estimated Window

(exact times TBA)

I (Grades 7 & 8) Saturday, February 3, 2024 9am-1pm
II (Grades 9 & 10) Saturday, February 3, 2024 1pm-5pm
III (Grades 11 & 12) Sunday, February 4, 2024 1pm-5pm


  • Divisions are determined by grade level.
    • Each division has different requirements regarding the number of pieces to perform and the amount of time in which they perform.
    • Division III has a longer warm-up duration than Divisions I & II.  
Division Number of Pieces Warm-Up Duration Performance Duration
I (Grades 7 & 8) 1 or 2 10 minutes 7 minutes
II (Grades 9 & 10) 1 or 2 10 minutes 10 minutes
III (Grades 11 & 12) 2 15 minutes 15 minutes



  • Music must be standard solo literature from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, or Contemporary periods.
    • Arizona Musicfest does not provide a list of required or recommended repertoire.
    • Simplified versions & transcriptions are not accepted.
    • Multiple movements from a work may be entered as one selection, so long as the total program does not exceed the allotted time for the respective division (see above).
  • Music must be memorized.
  • Accompanied pieces must be performed with an accompanist.
    • Performers are responsible for arranging their own accompanist. If assistance finding an accompanist is needed, please email competition@azmusicfest.org.
  • Performers must provide three total copies of their score(s): a published version and two photocopies.
    • Scores should not have markings that would indicate the performer or teacher’s identities.
    • Score(s) must have measures numbered and cuts marked (if any) so the judges can use them as a reference during the performance.
    • If your music is in the public domain, the score should be clearly marked “Public Domain” or a cover sheet indicating that should be included.
    • Scores will be checked at the Welcome Table for the above requirements and will be returned directly after the performance.


  • Standout performers from each Division may be awarded cash prizes in the amounts detailed below.
  • Awarded performers will be invited to perform in the Young Musicians Concert Series in the MIM Music Theater.
  • Awarded performers may receive additional performance opportunities as they become available.
Division First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
I (Grades 7 & 8) $200 $100 $50
II (Grades 9 & 10) $350 $200 $100
III (Grades 11 & 12)  $450 $350 $200


  • Judges: Heidi Hernandez, harp; Dagamara Suchon, violin; third judge TBA.
  • Judges will stop performers if their performance exceeds the competition time limits. There is no penalty if a performer is stopped for this reason.
  • Prizes are awarded at the end of each division to performers who display the highest level of artistic excellence.
  • Judges may elect to award ‘Excellent’ and ‘Superior’ ratings to performers demonstrating high levels of artistry in their performances. Ratings will only be awarded with unanimous recommendation from the committee.
  • Judges have the option to withhold prizes; their decisions are final.
  • All students will receive judges’ comments within a week of the adjudication date.

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Questions? Contact Josh Condon, Resident Artist and Director of Community Music Programs at 480-422-8431 or competition@azmusicfest.org

Adjudication Panel

Ajay Patel

Ajay Patel

Ajay R. Patel has been a music educator in Arizona since 2001. He has been a teacher in the Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert school districts, and is currently the Assistant Director of Orchestras at Mountain View High School in the Mesa Public School district. Mr. Patel also serves as adjunct faculty in the Maricopa Community Colleges, as Director of Orchestras at the Phoenix College campus. Mr. Patel earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Arizona State University (ASU), and a Master of Music in Cello Performance from Arizona State University (ASU).

Mr. Patel is an active member of organizations that support Arizona music education. He has served positions for the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) as Southwest Region Orchestra Chair, and Central Region Governor. He is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator, having served as conductor of the Jr. High All-State Orchestra and a regular adjudicator for the ABODA Area Festivals. He is also a current member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). Mr. Patel had the honor of conducting the 2017 North Central Region Orchestra, as well as the 2019 West Region Orchestra.

Mr. Patel has served as the Symphony Orchestra conductor for the East Valley Youth Symphony since its inaugural year in 2006. He also established the Chandler Academy for the Performing Arts (CAPA) in 2009, a three-week summer music program for orchestra, band, choir, and theater serving the students of the Chandler Unified School District and the local southeast valley community. In addition to serving music programs for youth, Mr. Patel was conductor of the Scottsdale Philharmonic, and enjoyed musical collaborations with featured artists such as Caio Pagano, Walter Temme, Qingqing Ye, and Katie McLin.

An accomplished cellist, Mr. Patel has performed with many of the local community and professional orchestras in Arizona. He has served as a substitute section cellist for the Arizona Opera, Guest Principal cellist for the Chandler Symphony Orchestra, and the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Arizona Pro Arte Orchestra. He has also performed with the Symphony of the Southwest, Musica Nova Orchestra. In the winter of 2011, Mr. Patel was the principal cellist of the American Festival Orchestra under the direction of Lawrence Golan. The American Festival Orchestra toured 14 cities in China over a span of two weeks as part of an international cultural exchange.

Mr. Patel has studied cello with Takayori Atsumi, and Thomas Landschoot at Arizona State University. His conducting studies have been guided by Timothy Russell and Gary Hill at Arizona State University.

Mr. Patel lives in Gilbert with his wife Rochel, and his children Olivia, Alexander, and Phoenix.

Heidi Hernandez

Heidi Hernandez

The Phoenix Symphony

Dr. Heidi Hernandez, harp (February) has played the harp for over 30 years and enjoyed every aspect of her diverse musical career, from soloing, to orchestral playing, to leading HarpSynergy, the harp ensemble of her current and former students, to performing and competing internationally. Her studio includes online and in person students ranging from age 6 to 76 currently. Dr. Heidi loves encouraging her students on their journeys as individuals as well as musicians, in a nurturing environment that gives them the benefits of being part of a growing thriving community of harpists with a common love of the instrument, music, and each other as a team. HarpSynergy has played at various private and public events, most notably Las Noches de Las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Gardens for three years running.

Heidi grew up in the Midwest and received her Masters of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from The University of Arizona under Dr. Carrol McLaughlin, where she was her Graduate Teaching Assistant and taught as her sabbatical replacement. She is currently adjunct instructor of harp at Grand Canyon University and lives with her husband and their 4 children in Phoenix Arizona, where she regularly plays with various ensembles, churches, and organizations, as well as with The Phoenix Symphony since 2004.

Dagmara Suchon-Hobbs

Dagmara Suchon-Hobbs

The Phoenix Symphony

Dagmara Suchoń, violin (February & March), is a member of Duo Polonaise. The Polish-born musician began violin studies with her father, Stanislaw Suchoń, the Concertmaster of Poznań Philharmonic. From an early age, she performed in settings ranging from Early Music ensembles, symphony orchestras, and jazz groups to film music recordings, flamenco guitar troupes, and live circus shows in many European countries and the United States. After graduating from Music Conservatory in Poznań, Ms. Suchoń lived in Germany, where she joined her sister Joanna as a pop musician in the electric violin duo Space Violins. After moving to the U.S., she continued her musical career in Los Angeles and then settled with her family in Phoenix, where she founded Lady Daga’s Violin Studio. She is currently Violin Technique Instructor at the Arizona School for the Arts. Ms. Suchoń performs regularly with The Phoenix Symphony and, as a chamber musician, with Celebration Strings. This is her sixth year at Arizona Musicfest.