The William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition is an international music competition held annually on the first Saturday of March. The competition is sponsored by the St. Cecilia Society of Flint in collaboration with FIM and the Flint Symphony Orchestra.

St. Cecilia Society was founded in 1890 by Mrs. J. Dallas Dort (Nellie) for the purpose of promoting musical enjoyment and appreciation among its members. The organization has grown to include musical opportunities and scholarships for area residents and to mentor young, promising musicians through the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition. Young artists from throughout the world compete in the competition for a grand prize of $6,000 plus an opportunity to perform with FSO and Maestro Enrique Diemecke, conductor and music director.

Antona Yost, mezzo-soprano, won the 2023 William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition on March 4. Yost earned her Bachelor of Music at the University of Southern California and Master of Music at the University of Michigan. This is the first music competition for which she has ever earned a grand prize and it has already had a major impact on her career.

“The prize money has given me opportunities to fly to auditions, pay for lessons and musical coaching as well as other resources like musical scores essential to my career that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise,” says Yost of winning the competition.

But the most important opportunity the contest has provided is yet to come, she says. “February will be my first time presenting art songs with an orchestra, and I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to appear in concert with the wonderful FSO.”

Yost will perform with the orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17. The concert features the stately drama of Russian music with powerhouse composers like Glinka and Tchaikovsky, and Yost will perform Mussorgsky’s song cycle Detskaya (The Nursery).

“I am looking forward to the challenge of putting together these songs, which are very fluid in their storytelling, with orchestra,” Yost says of the upcoming performance. “The Mussorgsky piece is very charming and delightful, and I’m excited to hear how the variety of colors and timbres in the orchestra will enhance the storytelling.”
Much like her grand prize, this type of music is a new step in her musical career. “I tend to gravitate toward dramatic and sad pieces,” she says of her usual repertoire, “but this work is the complete opposite! It is full of childish fun and it has been a joy to prepare for the performance in February.”

Glinka, Mussorgsky & Tchaikovsky
Antona Yost, mezzo-soprano
performing Modest Mussorgsky,
“Detskaya” (The Nursery)

Whiting Auditorium
Saturday, Feb 17, 7:30 p.m.


Join us for the 2024 William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition for pianists on March 2.
Auditions are held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (may vary) and are open to the public at no cost. Five finalists are selected to compete during the evening of the same day beginning at 7 p.m. The finals are free and open to the public. The auditions and finals take place in MacArthur Recital Hall at FIM Dort Music Center. Following the finals, there is a reception in the Anderson Room free to all who attend.