School of Fine and Performing Arts

2023 Fall Strings Festival and Solo Competition

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October 5-7, 2023
Wright State University

2023 Guest Conductor

Thomas Chen

Thomas Chen is Director of Orchestras at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana. Under his direction, the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra has earned regular appearances at the Indiana State School Music Association State High School Concert Finals, produced a recording of Dvorak Symphony No. 9, and performed at The Midwest Clinic in December 2019. Chen previously held the position of Assistant Director at Dobie High School in Houston, Texas, where he helped lead five orchestras to earn Superior ratings at UIL Concert and Sight Reading.

In addition to public school teaching, Chen is Associate Conductor with the Indianapolis Youth Orchestra's Symphony Orchestra. Chen has performed as a guest conductor with the Purdue University Philharmonic Orchestra and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra.

Chen earned his Bachelor of Music Education from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he studied viola with Dr. Nicole Brockmann. While completing his studies, he earned opportunities to perform in masterclasses with the American String Quartet and Joan Tower. He was selected as a winner of the DePauw University Band Conducting Competition.

While in Houston, Chen performed as substitute principal violist in the Pasadena Philharmonic Orchestra and Clear Lake Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he performed free chamber ensemble community concerts as a member of the Clear Lake Chamber Ensemble.

Chen is a proud member of the American String Teachers Association and National Association for Music Education. He currently serves as Orchestra Division Chair with the Indiana Music Education Association.

About the Festival

The Wright State University School of Fine and Performing Arts will host its fourth annual Fall Strings Festival for high school students on October 5-7, 2023. This event will showcase the wealth of young performing talent in Southwestern and Central Ohio.

Students will gather for three days of coaching and rehearsals, and they will perform in a Festival Orchestra alongside Wright State string majors. Wright State String Faculty members will coach students in sectionals and masterclasses, and our guest conductor will conduct the Festival Orchestra rehearsals and concert.

Wright State Orchestra Faculty

Solo Competition

Calling all festival students! The Wright State University String Faculty invite participation in a solo competition for high school students registered for our 4th Annual Fall Strings Festival. The competition will take place on the last day of the festival, Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Recital Hall. Wright State String Faculty will act as judges. The winner will be announced shortly after the competition and be invited to perform their solo movement or piece at the Saturday, October 7 afternoon final concert.

Competition Guidelines

  1. The competition is open to all high school students registered for and participating in the 4th Annual Wright State Fall Strings Festival.
  2. Competitors must register for and participate in all general festival activities including orchestra, sectionals, etc. (see the festival schedule for further details). Concerns? Let us know. Make sure you have selected participation in the competition on the registration page!
  3. One movement from a Concerto or Sonata or other solo work will be selected for performance by the competitor (with consultation from the teacher/private instructor) and must be from the standard repertoire for orchestral stringed instruments and orchestra: violin, viola, cello, or bass. Past winners have played repertoire such as Bruch's Violin Concerto in G minor mvt. 1 and "Summer" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. N.B. Each concerto from Vivaldi's Four Seasons will count as one "movement" given their short length and will be performed as such. Please email Dr. Jackson Leung for questions concerning repertoire at or Dr. Kevin Nordstrom at
  4. Each competitor must perform with piano accompaniment if required in the selected piece. The competitor is responsible for supplying their own accompanist and said accompanist must be available for the Saturday morning competition and final concert that afternoon.  While Wright State will not supply an accompanist for competitors, we are happy to make a recommendation with at least one week's advanced notice prior to the competition date. 

String Teacher Professional Development Day

On the Friday of the Fall Strings Festival, we invite area string teachers to join us for a day of professional development. This will include clinics with Wright State faculty and guest artists and time to observe or sit in on a Festival Orchestra rehearsal. Lunch is included and the day is free to all participants.

To register for the String Teacher Professional Development Day, teachers should email Bill Jobert, coordinator of music education at

Guest Artist: Joel Thompson, Side Door Strings

Joel Thompson is a luthier residing in Springboro, Ohio where he operates his violin shop, “Side Door Strings”. He earned his bachelor's in cello performance from Wright State University as well as a certificate from the Chicago School of Violin Making.

 His eleven years of experience in lutherie has included work with the Viola da Gamba Society of America as well as apprenticeships and employment with reputable violin shops in Chicago and Cincinnati. When not rehairing bows or making instruments, Joel performs with his band “Scrimshaw” at the Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati and various local pubs. 


The registration fee is $50 and is non-refundable. Fees are payable online.

For more information, contact Dr. Franklin Cox at or Bill Jobert at

Download and complete the Medical Release Form (PDF) and bring it with you to the festival.

Registration is online. Payment can be made by Mastercard, Visa, Discover, or webCheck.

2023 Festival Schedule

Time Activity
Thursday, October 5
3:30 to 5 p.m. Check-In, Seating Auditions with Wright State faculty
5 to 6:30 p.m. Festival Orchestra side-by-side rehearsal and Wright State faculty
6:30 to 7:15 p.m.  Pizza dinner
7:15 to 8:45 p.m.  Festival Orchestra rehearsal
Friday, October 6
9 to 11 a.m. Festival Orchestra Rehearsal
11 a.m. to Noon Sectionals with WSU String Faculty
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch at the Student Union
1:30 to 2:45 p.m.

Festival Orchestra Rehearsal

3 to 4 p.m. Wright State String Faculty Recital
4:15 to 6:15 p.m. Festival Orchestra rehearsal
Saturday, October 7
9 to 11 a.m. Festival Orchestra rehearsal
11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Masterclasses with Wright State String Faculty
12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Grilled Cheese lunch hosted by Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Festival Orchestra Dress Rehearsal
3 p.m. Festival Orchestra Concert

2022 Festival Photo Gallery


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