Outstanding Artist 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 Competition (OAC) 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 OAC and MTNA Performance Competition in the same year.

The OAC is a state level competition with monetary awards.


Registration opened on August 14, 2020
Deadline extended!
Registration closed on September 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm PT

Video Submission Deadline:

November 2, 2020 at 11:59 PM PT


Cherie Felts, OAC Chair

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

2020 Outstanding Artist Junior Competition Results

2020 Outstanding Artist Junior Competition Results


Karen Savage

Praised as a “tour de force” (Santa Barbara News-Press), for the “breathtaking beauty and pure lyricism” of her playing (Le Soleil, Vancouver), and for her “fearless performance” (The Straits Times, Singapore), Karen Hsiao Savage is Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Conservatory. She holds a doctoral degree and two master’s degrees in both solo and collaborative piano from Juilliard, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria (Canada).

Active as a collaborative pianist, she has performed internationally in such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, and the Perlman Music Program in New York and Shanghai. Her performances have been broadcast on internationally syndicated NPR programs, and Vietnamese and Chinese national television. Her diverse collaborations include recent performances with the Spokane String Quartet, violist Masumi Rostad, oboist Keri McCarthy, euphonium player Chris Dickey, and cellist Michael Mermagen. Committed to working with living composers, Karen has given international and recording premieres of works by Daniel Ott on Navonna/PARMA Records (2019),  and she will perform the world premiere of Matthew Fuerst’s piano trio in 2021, with violinist Hyeyoung Yoon and cellist Gregory Beaver.

Karen’s piano duo 88SQUARED with husband Jeffrey Savage received critical praise for international premieres of Liebermann’s Sonata for Two Pianos, and were invited by the composer to record his complete works for two pianos on Albany Records. The duo won the Ellis Duo Piano Competition, the Abild Prize in American Music, and second prize and a special mention award at Concours Grieg International Competition (Norway).

Dr. Savage is in demand as a presenter, adjudicator, and guest teacher. Her students are active in the field as performers and teachers, and have been awarded competitive graduate assistantships at major programs. She previously served on the faculty of Washington State University. Her recent performances, master classes, and presentations include those at Indiana University, Eastman School of Music, MusiQuest National Piano Festival (India), Ho Chi Minh Conservatory (Vietnam), and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore). Karen’s major teachers include Jonathan Feldman, Veda Kaplinksy, Margo Garrett, Sam Sanders, Robin and Winifred Wood and Edward Parker; additional studies were with Anne Epperson and Robert McDonald.

“I will certainly be on the lookout for more music by this exceptionally gifted composer, and these equally gifted pianists who have brought his music to life.” David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare Magazine, on Daniel Ott’s 2019 Falling Pieces recording by 88SQUARED

Bill McKay

Bill McKay, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Communication at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington, received his degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Washington and the University of Texas at Austin. He was a student of Alberto Rafols and Gregory Allan, and a teaching assistant for Amanda Vic Lethco.  Prior to his administrative appointment in 1998, he was a member of the tenured music faculty at Columbia Basin College.

Mr. McKay remains busy as a working artist.  He has been a guest artist with the Mid-Columbia Symphony on several occasions. Since moving back to the Tri-Cities after his time in Texas, he has performed the Beethoven Concerto #5, the Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens with Libby Watrous, the Gershwin Concerto in F, as well as the Rhapsody in Blue and Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 453 with the Mid-Columbia Symphony.   Additionally, he has also performed the Rhapsody in Blue with the Inland Northwest Musicians and twice with the Columbia Basin Concert Band.  As a jazz pianist, he plays in the Columbia Basin Jazz Orchestra (CBJO) which has backed up jazz artists under the umbrella of the Jazz Unlimited Festival at CBC.   In 2018, he and Dr. Jody Graves from Eastern Washington University made a two-piano team debut with a performance of the Carnival of the Animals at CBC with the INWM and Lee Freese conducting.  He continues to be active as a judge/adjudicator for local, state and regional competitions.

As an arts administrator, in 2005, he was appointed by Governor Locke as a commissioner for the Washington State Arts Commission and in 2007 was re-appointed by Governor Gregoire and continues to remain active in Washington State arts advocacy.  At Columbia Basin College, along with the faculty and staff, he oversees the Jazz Unlimited Festival, The Summer Showcase Series, The Community Lecture Series and The Esvelt Gallery.  Bill continues to be engaged with various community arts boards.

Ricardo de la Torre

In demand as a performer, teacher, adjudicator and presenter, Dr. Ricardo de la Torre currently serves as piano instructor for the Community Music Program at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, where he was also staff accompanist for the School of Music. Ricardo has played in concert venues in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Spain, Austria and France. A finalist and prize winner in several competitions in Mexico and the U.S., he received second prize at the Eleventh Annual Competition in the Performance of Music from Spain and Latin America, sponsored by Indiana University’s Latin American Music Center and the Embassy of Spain. The recordings he made as a result of this competition were included in a two-CD collection released by the LAMC and received praise from Fanfare Magazine. Together with Dr. Lark Powers, Ricardo forms a piano duo that is active locally and internationally and was a finalist of the United States International Piano Duo Competition in Colorado Springs.

Born in Mexico City, Ricardo attended the Escuela Superior de Música in his home town, where he received a Bachelor’s degree cum laude. During his time at this School, he studied with Ana María Tradatti and Fernando García Torres. He continued his studies at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he received a Master of Music degree and was a student of Evelyne Brancart and André De Groote. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he studied with David Korevaar and worked as a Teaching Assistant.

Ricardo has participated in masterclasses with pianists Jorge Federico Osorio, Peter Donohoe, Leon Fleisher, Jörg Demus, Cristina Ortiz, Jean-Paul Sevilla, Ursula Oppens, Gustavo Romero and Gregory Allen, among others.

An active presenter, he has participated in numerous local, regional and international conferences offering lectures and lecture-recitals in a variety of topics. The results of his research have been published in specialized journals by institutions in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia.

With experience instructing from the beginning stages to the college level, Ricardo is a dedicated teacher who enjoys working with students of various backgrounds. He is a visiting artist for the Washington State Music Teachers Association’s Music Artistry Program and has served on the faculty of East Central University in Ada, OK. Ricardo has also taught music analysis at Pacific Lutheran University. Currently he is pianist at First Lutheran Church in Tacoma where he directs its summer concert series Listen Live at Lunch.


(Click on the year to view the results from past years)

2019 OAC Winners

2018 OAC Winners

2017 OAC Winners

2016 OAC Winners

2015 OAC Winners 

2014 OAC Winners

2013 OAC Winners

2012 OAC Winners