The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Association is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization dedicated to extending educational and performance opportunities to young musicians.

Our History

The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Association was founded in 1970 with a non-competitive philosophy focused on musicianship and the development of performance artistry. The un-graded masterclass format uniquely distinguishes the Seattle Festival from most others, and enables Festival adjudicators to focus on teaching in an interactive learning environment for festival entrants.

Since its inception, national adjudicators of outstanding quality have been a hallmark of the SYAMFA Festival. Adjudicators come from such prestigious music institutions as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York, The Juilliard school, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman, The Curtis Institute, The Cleveland Institute, and many other renowned music programs. The result of these two combined values is often substantial growth in the musicianship of the participating young artists and a greater mastery of their chosen instrument.

In its youth, our event was held in local area churches and other small venues but for nearly two decades, the Festival has partnered with the University of Washington School of Music where the annual event now occupies the entire Music Building during the University’s spring break.


The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival was Founded by five Seattle area music educators seeking to improve both the musicianship and artistry of young local music students, as well as the level of instruction offered by local music teachers. The Founders of the SYAMFA were:

  • Corry Celli
  • Randolph Hokanson
  • Michiko Miyamoto
  • Willard Schultz
  • Helen Taverniti

How we are Organized

The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Association is comprised of two branches, the Board of Directors and the Music Advisory Panel. Both groups are staffed entirely by volunteers.

The Board of Directors is staffed by individuals from a broad range of backgrounds who share an interest in music and a strong belief in the importance of the Festival as an unparalleled performance and educational experience for aspiring young musicians. The Board engages the adjudicators, manages their transportation and accommodations, contracts with venues, designs, implements and maintains the technology systems, registers and schedules participants, publishes the printed materials, conducts fundraising efforts, and staffs the operations during both the week long Festival and Concerto Winners Concert.

The Music Advisory Panel members are all prominent local music educators. They have the critical task of selecting Festival Adjudicators and provide expertise on issues pertaining to the standards of music and the teachers’ point of view. The Panel reviews all entrance applications for compliance with the rules governing repertoire and performance practice, grants acceptance to the Festival, and staffs the Festival with class monitors.


The SYAMFA Board of Directors, Music Advisory Panel, and Festival Operations Staff are all volunteers. Only the Adjudicators providing instruction are compensated. Those interested in supporting the Festival are urged to contact any member of the Board. We are always looking for volunteers and you needn’t to be a musician to help. Interested? Please contact us at for more information.

Funding and Contributions

The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Association is funded through a combination of entry fees and donations. Our events could not take place without the generous support of those who contribute each year. The SYAMFA is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Arts organization and donations are tax deductible. The Festival Board, Music Advisory Panel, and Participants thank you for your support.

To make a contribution, please use the Donate to SYAMFA button in the right sidebar.

Nondiscrimination Policy

The Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Association welcomes youth of all races, ethnicities, religions, physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and financial circumstances. Our classes embrace diversity, reflecting the needs and composition of the communities we serve.