Students share top win at YSSO concerto competition

JACKSON AND JOSEPHINE COUNTIES – Rogue Community College (RCC) violin student T.J. Snyder, a 2022 graduate of Grants Pass High School, shared top honors with Ashland High School student bassoonist James Dyson at the recent concerto competition of the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon (YSSO).

Snyder earned his win amongst the five finalists at the Jan. 31 competition by skillfully performing the first movement of Violin Concerto in E Minor Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn, accompanied by pianist Anna Christina Streletz, a member of the RCC Chamber Music Ensemble. 

Demonstrating fine bassoon playing abilities, Dyson joined the winners circle following his performance of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major, accompanied on piano by Southern Oregon University (SOU) piano professor, Dr. Alexander Tutunov.

As a reward for taking top honors, Snyder and Dyson both receive the opportunity to perform their concerto movements with the YSSO during the ensemble’s upcoming spring and fall concerts.

Snyder will perform his winning concerto with the YSSO during the Spring Concert Series’ two performances, May 20 at SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts Music Recital Hall in Ashland, and May 21 at the Craterian Theater in Medford.

Dyson will perform his winning concerto with the YSSO during the Fall Concert Series – dates and locations to be announced by YSSO later this year.

Snyder entered RCC last fall to continue studying music and has been active as the lead violinist in the RCC Chamber Music Ensemble and as the co-concert master of the YSSO. He plans to complete his associate degree at RCC and transfer to the University of Oregon to pursue a bachelor’s degree in violin performance. 

“I am incredibly honored,” said Snyder about his win.  “I feel that I have made a major step forward in my violin playing, as measured by such. I have played violin for eight years and first desired to so I could play the antique violin in possession of my family; that is now the violin on which I play.  My plan is to play violin professionally.”

Dyson, still a junior in high school, hopes to continue playing music throughout his life but isn’t sure he will major in music while in college since both math and science hold his interest as well. “I am honored to have been selected as a winner, and I can’t wait to perform next fall,” said Dyson. “I’ve always wanted to perform in front of an orchestra!”

Founded in 1988, the YSSO nonprofit organization offers training and performance opportunities to young instrumental musicians and presents high-quality performances of symphonic and orchestral music to Southern Oregon audiences.

Cynthia Hutton serves as the YSSO music director and conductor. Young musicians are encouraged to audition for membership, and scholarship opportunities are readily available allowing students to participate who might otherwise face financial barriers.

For more information about the YSSO, please contact Executive Director Sharon Wilson at 541-858-8859 or