NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Violinists, violists and cellists from around the world will compete for $15,000 in prize money during the George and Peggy Schmidbauer Young Artist Strings Competition presented by the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20, on the SFA campus.

"It's an exciting time for Nacogdoches to be able to bring in all these musicians," said Gene H. Moon, director of orchestral studies at SFA and of the competition. "We already have a great music program at SFA, but a competition like this brings notoriety to the entire community."

Six years ago, George and Peggy Schmidbauer, California residents who founded Cal-Tex Lumber in Nacogdoches more than 25 years ago, wanted to give a donation to SFA to foster and promote classical music. As a result, Moon was asked to formulate a competition. The Schmidbauer Competition alternates each year between piano and strings.

Applications are accepted worldwide for the competition. This year, string musicians from South Korea, Russia, Finland and many locations throughout the U.S. have applied. The applications will be narrowed to 10 competitors for each of the junior and senior divisions.

"The Schmidbauer Competition has become one of the most distinguished highlights of the year for the School of Music," said Scott Harris, interim director of the SFA School of Music. "Hosting a competition of this stature puts the SFA School of Music, and Nacogdoches, on the international stage. We are truly thankful that the generous contributions of George and Peggy Schmidbauer allow SFA to bring these amazing young artists to campus."

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, 10 senior division string players (ages 19 to 27) will each present a 30-minute recital during the semi-final rounds in W.M. Turner Auditorium. At the same time, 10 junior division semi-finalists (ages 15 to 18) will similarly compete in Cole Concert Hall.

Admission to any part of the semi-final rounds on Saturday is free.

"You can come and go as you wish; there is no ticket cost, and you can hear some amazing playing," Moon said.

Three finalists for both divisions will be announced at 4:30 p.m. in Cole Concert Hall, where the junior division final round concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. that evening. The first place winner will receive $1,500; second place, $1,000; and third place, $750.

The final round for the senior division will be begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, in Cole Concert Hall. The first place winner will receive $5,000 and a $2,500 concert engagement with the SFA Orchestra of the Pines. Second place will receive $3,000, and third place, $2,000.

Admission to each of the final round concerts is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students.

Tickets to any of the events can be purchased ahead of time by calling (936) 468-6407 or visiting the SFA Fine Arts Box Office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Cole Concert Hall is located in the Wright Music Building, 2210 Alumni Drive. W.M. Turner Auditorium and the Fine Arts Box Office are located at 2222 Alumni Drive. For more information, please call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.