T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition

Congratulations to Ethan Blake, the First Place Winner of the 2019-2020 T. Gordon Parks Concerto Competition


Ethan was going to be featured as guest soloist on the Arapahoe Philharmonic’s March 27, 2020 “Apotheosis of the Dance” program, performing Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Cello and Orchestra. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ethan Blake’s scheduled performance with the Arapahoe Philharmonic had to be canceled.

Ethan Blake has played around the world for a variety of audiences. As an avid soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician, Ethan has performed a wide variety of repertoire in venues across the United States, Italy, and Japan. He has participated in numerous music festivals, including the Brevard (NC) and Innsbrook (MO) Music Festivals, and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy). As a chamber musician, Ethan has worked with many notable ensembles, including the T’kacs, Calidore, Borromeo, and Beijing String Quartets. He has served as principal cellist of numerous orchestras, including the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, the Western States Honor Orchestra, the Pikes Peak Philharmonic, and the Brevard Concert Orchestra.

Ethan started playing the cello in the 3rd grade, as he hails from a family of musicians, his mother a flutist and his father a percussionist. He also holds a passion for arts education and outreach, has given sectionals in various elementary and middle schools throughout Colorado and holds private lessons for students of all backgrounds. Ethan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he studies with David Requiro. Other teachers have included Annemarie Dawson, Benjamin Karp, Richard Aaron, and Robert deMaine. Outside of music, other interests include cycling, basketball, and spending time with his dogs when he can. Ethan is a passionate (and sometimes heartbroken) Boston Celtics fan.


The Arapahoe Philharmonic of Littleton, Colorado (a Denver suburb), in support of its ongoing mission to give recognition to young talent in the classical music field, implemented its 49th T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition for 2019-2020.

The 2019-2020 competition was for Orchestral String and Harp players between the ages of 18 and 25 as of March 27, 2020. The winner will be the featured soloist in performance with the orchestra, and cash awards of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 were presented to the top three finalists.

Entry Submission Requirements

1. The T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition rotates instrument categories annually. The 2019-2020 competition was for orchestral string (violin, viola, cello, double bass) and harp players.

2. Applications are submitted online by October 31 of the competition year.

3. The Competition is open to musicians who are at least 18 and not older than 25. Previous First Place winners may not reapply, but all other previous participants are eligible, provided they meet the age and other restrictions.

4. ONLY full-time high school seniors and college undergraduate or graduate students from schools in Colorado and its seven surrounding states (Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma) are eligible to apply for the competition. Those attending online schools based in these eight states are also eligible. College applicants do not have to be studying in the school of music but must have a recommendation by a member of the music faculty or a music teacher.

5. The concerto must be an instrumental composition of no more than 20 minutes total duration for which orchestral parts are generally available through an American publisher, and not rent for more than $500. (Contact the publisher, if you are in doubt.) The same concerto must be used for all stages of the competition. The composition must NOT be on the list of ineligible works included at the end of these instructions.

6. Double or triple concertos are allowed with the following conditions:

  • All solo instruments must fall into the competition year category. For instance, all soloists must be orchestral string or harp players.
  • Only one prize will be awarded to the soloists collectively. Any prize awarded would need to be split between the soloists.
  • All other age and music regulations apply.

7. Memorization of the entire selection is required for the live audition and for the winner’s performance with the orchestra.

8. Entry in this competition constitutes the contestant’s authorization to use their name, photograph(s) and biographical information for publicity purposes.

9. The Arapahoe Philharmonic reserves the right to dismiss any applicant if the application is found to be ineligible or misleading in any way. Such disqualification may be made at any time, up to and including the date of the scheduled concerto performance. A disqualified applicant will forfeit any prize awarded, and no refund of fees or expenses will be given. The Arapahoe Philharmonic will have sole discretion on the redistribution of any prizes to the runners-up.

10. Arapahoe Philharmonic members and staff, and their immediate family members, are not eligible to apply.



Applicants must submit an online application consisting of:

  • Complete composition – all movements – recorded on video. No audio-only files accepted.
  • The composition should be a concerto or other full work for soloist and orchestra. The piece must comply with the rules stated above.
  • Each movement may be a separate video.
  • Please submit You Tube or Vimeo links with the setting that anyone with the link may view.
  • The recorded entry should be accompanied throughout by either piano or orchestra. Please do not switch accompaniment type from movement to movement.
  • Scan of ID (driver’s license or passport) to confirm eligibility to apply. Applicants must be citizens of the United States or provide written authorization from applicant’s U.S.-based school (Designated School Official) confirming that the applicant can be awarded the competition prize money.
  • Resumé and/or brief biography of no more than 250 words.
  • $50.00 non-refundable application fee
  • All applications must be submitted online, via the links on this page on the dates specified.?No late or hard-copy mailed entries will be accepted.
  • The competition judges will evaluate all eligible applications without exception and select up to six finalists. Decisions of the judges are final. Feedback from the judges will be made available to the applicants, if available. Applicants will be notified of the results through email.


    1. Live auditions will be held in the Denver, CO metro area. Finalists must participate in the audition process to be eligible to win.

    2. Finalists must provide their own accompanists, along with at least three copies of the score for the judges. A PDF of the score sent in advance is also acceptable. A full orchestral score is preferred, but a piano reduction will be satisfactory. A list of local accompanists for hire will be available upon request, but you may select your accompanist independent of the list

    3. Three or more judges from the Arapahoe Philharmonic, usually consisting of the conductor and two or more of our principal musicians, will select the first, second, and third place winners. If the judges and/or the conductor determine that an insufficient number of finalists exhibit acceptable performance quality to perform with the Arapahoe Philharmonic, the right to award fewer prizes for the current season is reserved.

    4. The live audition round will be open to the public.

    5. Awards may be announced immediately following the completion of the competition live round but are subject to review by the AP Board before becoming final. Official results will be confirmed and distributed via email in January of the following year. The First-Place prize will be presented during one of the Arapahoe Philharmonic season concerts season, immediately following the winner’s performance as soloist with the orchestra. Second and Third place prizes will be awarded by mail prior to the March performance concert, and complimentary tickets to the concert will be offered.

    6. Finalists are responsible for their own expenses including travel, lodging, and meals. A home stay may be possible, if needed.


    Competition Awards

    • First Place – $2,000 and a performance as featured soloist with the Arapahoe Philharmonic on March 27, 2020.
    • Second Place – $1,000.
    • Third Place – $500.

    First Place Winner’s Obligations

    • The First Place winner will appear as soloist with the Arapahoe Philharmonic on Friday, March 27, 2020. Audio and video recordings of the concert performance will be made and become the property of the AP. The winner will receive copies for personal use.
    • The First Place winner is required to attend at least one orchestra rehearsal (preferably Tuesday, March 24, 2020), plus the mandatory dress rehearsal (Thursday, March 26, 2020). The teacher of the First Place winner is welcome to attend. Additional rehearsals may be scheduled with the conductor.
    • The First Place winner must play the same composition performed in the previous stages of the competition.
    • If the First Place winner is unable to perform with the orchestra on the March concert, the Second Place winner may be asked to appear as the soloist and receive the First Place award. The original winner will be disqualified and forfeit the First Place award. Extenuating or emergency circumstances will be considered.
    • A digital image of the First Place winner, preferably with instrument, is requested for publicity purposes. This image must be a minimum of 2″ x 3″ at 300 dpi and free of duplication restrictions. Please submit a photo credit if one is required.

    Ineligible works for 2019?2020 concerto competition

    • Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77
    • Dvorak: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 104
    • Ginastera: Harp Concerto, Op. 25
    • Korngold: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
    • Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, K. 364
    • Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77
    • Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
    • Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35


    1967 – Pat Morgan, flute
    1968 – Jack Herrick, French horn
    1969 – Chas West, clarinet
    1970 – Albert Galli, clarinet
    1971 – David Hickman, trumpet
    1976 – Lorraine Webb, flute
    1977 – Dan Diederich, trumpet
    1978 – Johanna Powell Cox, clarinet
    1979 – Deborah Young, flute
    1980 – Andy Braden, clarinet
    1981 – Evelien Hoogstraten, flute
    1982 – Kandance Lynn Farrell, alto saxophone
    1983 – Daniel Goble, alto saxophone
    1984 – Jack Howell, clarinet
    1985 – Bruce Orr, bassoon
    1986 – Jessica Lewis, flute
    1987 – Theresa M. Staub ? flute
    1988 – Michael Cox, alto saxophone
    1989 – David L. Wulfock, trombone
    1992 – Kimberly Bachelder, flute
    1993 – David-John Barraclough, trumpet
    1994 – Andrew Stamp, flute
    1995 – Paul Haar, alto saxophone
    1996 – Christina Fry, flute

    1997 – Lisa Anderson, flute
    1998 – Dorea Claassen, trumpet
    1999 – Ryan Williams, trombone
    2000 – Andy Strain, trombone
    2001 – Amilee Johnson, flute
    2002 – Jeff Timmons, alto saxophone
    2004 – Scott Beaver, tuba
    2005 – Marcin Arendt, violin
    2006 – Sung-Eun Kim, flute
    2007 – Luyan Gao, violin
    2008 – Ian Buckspan, clarinet
    2009 – Rosalie Gilbert, harp
    2011 – Eric Umble, clarinet
    2012 – Lauren Posey, cello
    2013 – Rachelle Crowell, flute
    2014 – Josiah Hamill, violin
    2015 – Steven Vaughn, euphonium
    2016 – Rachel Knight, harp
    2017 – Nicholas May, saxophone
    2018 – Kelcey Howell, cello
    2019 – Indigo Fischer, flute
    2020 – Ethan Blake, cello