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Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival

Registration & Fees Postmark Deadline - September 14, 2024

Audition Date - October 5, 2024 (Moravian University)

State Showcase Recitals and Keystone Concerto Festival - November 9, 2024 (Location: Lebanon Valley College)​​

Begun in 1980 by Dorothy Sutton, the Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival is an opportunity for talented music students to participate in a State Festival in a Showcase Recital. To assure high standards, the student must first qualify with a Superior rating in Local Preliminary Auditions and must demonstrate a minimal knowledge of music theory by passing a written theory exam with a grade of 85%. Students performing at the State Festival Showcase Recital will receive a gold medal and a Certificate of Participation.

Eligibility & Requirements:

  • Teacher

    • Participating teachers must be a member of PMTA and a member of a PMTA Local Association. The teacher must have paid local, state and national dues prior to the Local Association’s deadline for submitting applications. Teachers may belong to more than one Local Association, but students may perform at only one local event.

  • Student

    • Any piano, vocal or instrumental student of a PMTA member may participate in the DSPF Preliminary Auditions. Participating students must reside in Pennsylvania. Any age may participate, including adults.

General Information:

  • Auditions and theory tests must be conducted live and under supervised conditions on the same day and at the same site.

  • At these auditions, solo performers and ensemble teams will perform repertoire according to the Performance Requirements outlined below. Performers who receive a Superior rating and have scored 85% or higher on a theory test may advance to the state level for performance in a Showcase Recital where they must play the ONE piece the judge has chosen. All students at the preliminary level will receive written critiques from the judge with comments supporting the rating.

Performance Requirements:

  • Musical Scores: Students must submit an original, purchased copy of their music for the judges. Students who do not provide scores will be disqualified. Photocopies are acceptable only under the following conditions: 1) Public domain works downloaded from or 2) Out-of-print works for which the teacher must submit letter from the publisher allowing for photocopying. It is the teacher’s responsibility to submit a signed photocopy release form at the time of enrollment. 

  • Accompanists: accompanied works must have a live accompanist

  • Length of time: Performances may not exceed fifteen (15) minutes and may be adjusted by the local chairperson.

  • Solo: 

    • Piano and voice: Two (2) memorized pieces of a contrasting nature by different composers, preferably from two (2) different eras in the more advanced levels.

    • Other instruments: the same, however memorization is not required but STRONGLY recommended.

  • Ensembles:

    • Memorization is not required.

    • All ensemble members must take a theory test. The test is optional for those students who previously scored 85% or higher on the Level 5 exam.

    • Two contrasting pieces or movements by different composers, preferably from 2 different eras in the more advanced levels.

    • List the name of each performer when entering the ensemble registration.

  • All repertoire performed must be appropriate for all ages and audiences.  Lyrics may not include any direct or indirect references to drugs, alcohol, violence, sex, include any foul language, or any other subject / topic the committee deems inappropriate.  The Committee reserves the right to accept or reject any piece.  The committee reserves the right to accept or reject any piece.  The committee's decision is final.  It is the submitting teacher's responsibility to ensure all music is appropriate

  • All selections must be a minimum of sixteen (16) measures without repeats, including elementary level students. Simplifications or arrangements are NOT acceptable at the intermediate and advanced levels unless the original composer is the arranger (i.e. Liszt transcriptions, Brahms Waltzes.). Unacceptable repertoire includes: arrangements of movie, Broadway, or pop songs, hymns, organ literature, etc.; simplified or partial versions of classical repertoire - anything not originally composed for piano solo.

Theory Tests:

  • Theory score to perform at the state event must be 85% or higher.

  • The PMTA board has amended the rules to encourage students to attempt the higher levels without penalty. Levels 6 and above are optional for all instruments and voice.  Any student who has scored 85% or higher on Level 5 during a previous year may opt out of the theory requirement.  Students who attempt Level 6 or higher and receive a superior rating will qualify for the state showcase regardless of their theory score.  Students who receive a superior rating and choose to opt out of Levels 6 and higher also will be eligible for the state showcase. 

  • Students need not progress to a new level every year.

  • Ensemble students also performing as soloists will take only one test.

  • Ensemble students performing as an ensemble only must take a test, at the level of least experienced member of the group.

  • Test re-takes are not permitted.

  • Students are not permitted to see or take the test before the designated test date.

  • Theory test content is listed here.

Local Fees:
$17.00 per student (non-refundable)

$20.00 per duet / ensemble (non-refundable)

Students eligible to participate in the State Showcase Recital:

  • State Fee:  Free

  • Your teacher will give you more information, if applicable.


Teachers submit the following by the Postmark Deadline:

  1. One Application for each student with the Teacher Code on the top right (see Teacher Code List for details).

  2. One Judge's Rating Sheet for each student.  Fill out the student's first name only, their repertoire, and the Teacher Code on the top right.  

  3. A roster of student applicants listed in alphabetical order complete with the Teacher Code.  Include duets / ensembles as one separate entry.

  4. One check for your total studio fees made payable to LVMTA. 

  5. Photocopy Releases, if necessary.

  6. Send the above to Darlene Ziegler.  Address available in Member Directory.  Contact below, if needed.

For more information, contact Jennie Flicker, chair; , 484-866-7710 -or- Darlene Ziegler, chair;

Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival Forms & Resources

DSPF Application Form

DPSF Student Parent Letter

Teacher Codes & Roster Instructions

Student Photo Permission

DPSF Rating Sheet

Judge Instructions

Photocopy Release

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