Outstanding Artist Piano Competition

The competition was established in 2005 to provide an additional performance opportunity for talented pianists from Washington state. It runs concurrently with the MTNA Competition, but is not part of the MTNA Competition. The Outstanding Artist Piano Competition (OAPC) may serve as a positive initial step for students desiring to compete in the MTNA Performance Competition in future years.  A teacher may not enter the same student in both WSMTA OAPC and MTNA Performance Competition in the same year.

The OAPC is a state level competition with monetary awards.


Please click here for complete guidelines.

  • Registration opens on August 15, 2023
  • Registration closes on September 13, 2023 at midnight

Cherie Felts, OAC Chair

Cherie Felts and Judy Price at CWU
during the 2018 Outstanding Artist Competition

2023 Outstanding Artist Piano Competition Judges

Jeffrey Gilliam

Jeffrey Gilliam, pianist

Prior to joining the piano faculty at Western Washington University, Jeffrey Gilliam taught at The Juilliard School; The University of Michigan School of Music; and at The International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland. He has performed and taught all over the world, including guest university teaching positions in Thailand and South Africa, as well as receiving two Fulbright awards. He has recorded with violinists Yehudi Menuhin, Alberto Lysy, and Ruggerio Ricci for the EMI, Dinemec Classics, and Opus 111 labels.

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Jeffrey Gilliam studied piano with Cécile Genhart at The Eastman School of Music, and with Theodore Lettvin at The University of Michigan. He also studied collaborative piano with Martin Katz and Margo Garrett.

In addition to teaching piano and collaborative piano, he is Artistic Director of Western’s Sanford-Hill Piano Series. In 2015 he established his own endowed four-year piano scholarship: the Jeffrey Gilliam Piano Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Dr. Jason Kuo

Pianist Jason S. Kuo studied with Martha Wasley at the University of California at Berkeley and was later coached by Janet Guggenheim, whose worldwide concert credits included over thirty years of collaboration with the celebrated violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Dr. Kuo has performed with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra (2012-2018), the Octava Chamber Orchestra (2013-2018), and Pacifica Chamber Orchestra (2018). He also curated a popular chamber music series at the Seattle Downtown Library (2015-2018). He has been teaching piano privately since 1991, and has studios in Seattle, Bothell, and Issaquah. He is a member of the Seattle Music Teachers Association and is currently serving as the Music Artistry Program Chair of Washington State Music Teachers Association.

Recent performances with clarinetist Maryanne Lacaille include a Youtube video of Spanish Folk Variations for E-flat clarinet and piano (c. 2013) by Francisco Jose Martinez Gallego (2021 ClarinetFest, International Clarinet Association), and a performance of Paquito D’Rivera’s The Cape Cod Files (c. 2009) at the University of Tennessee (2019 ClarinetFest).

Past orchestral appearances included Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19 (Octava Chamber Orchestra), Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 (Pacifica Chamber Orchestra), Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (Octava Chamber Orchestra), Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (NW Symphony), Grofé ’s Grand Canyon Suite (NW Symphony), Copland’s El Salón México and Appalachian Spring (NW Symphony), and Respighi’s Pines of Rome (NW Symphony). He also played in Auburn High School’s pit orchestra for seven seasons in musical productions including Hairspray, Damn Yankees, Footloose, and Once Upon a Mattress.

As a side note, Dr. Kuo is also a former research faculty at the University of Washington’s Department of Chemistry. He is an author of more than twenty scientific journal articles and an inventor with several patents in biochemical analysis and cancer research.

Dr. Lark Powers

In demand as a solo and collaborative artist as well as an adjudicator and presenter, Dr. Lark Powers has performed at such venues as Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the 92nd Street Y in New York City and at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Internationally she has been heard in Europe, Mexico and Canada. In addition to numerous collaborations with ensembles, including the Tacoma Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, the Washington-Idaho Symphony, and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, she appears in frequent two-piano concerts as part of the duo she forms with pianist Ricardo de la Torre. Recently she performed on King FM’s NW Focus Live and she is a frequent performer on the Music from Home series at Lakewold Garden, the Listen Live at Lunch series at the First Lutheran Church of Tacoma, the Second City Chamber Series, and the faculty artist series at Pacific Lutheran University.

Lark received a DMA in piano performance from the University of Colorado Boulder, and holds three Master’s degrees (in piano, theory pedagogy and in harpsichord) and a graduate performance diploma in piano from the Peabody Institute. Her undergraduate studies occurred at the University of the Pacific, where she earned a BM in piano performance, summa cum laude, after which she attended the Conservatoire National de Région de Paris for three years where she won a premier prix. 

A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music and a Washington State Visiting Artist, Lark teaches at Pacific Lutheran University where she instructs applied lessons and accompanying, and coordinates the group keyboard program. Dr. Powers has presented on topics including managing performance anxiety, the creativity inherent in the Baroque repertoire, the pedagogy of keyboard harmony, the brain and practicing, and more. She is a proponent of new music, specializing in the music of Latin American composers, and can be heard on recordings with the Pan Pacific Ensemble on Albany records and the Cherry Creek Flute Duo on WSU Recording.

2022 Outstanding Artist Piano Competition Results

Previous Outstanding Artist Piano Competition Results