Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival (DSPF)


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Begun in 1980 by Dorothy Sutton, the Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival is an opportunity for the talented music student 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


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.


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. Students in ensembles who are not students of members may participate for an extra fee, and the ensemble must be coached by the PMTA member.

Preliminary Auditions


Each Local PMTA Association must hold local preliminary auditions. Contact your local chair for local entry forms. 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. Local Associations may offer additional awards to students, such as certificates, ribbons, trophies, medals, or other special recognition awards, at their own expense. Local Associations may decide the make up of ensembles, depending on piano and space availability at their local facility.


Musical Scores: One original copy of the music must be provided for the judges. Photocopies are strictly prohibited, unless there is express written permission from the publisher. It is the teacher’s responsibility to submit a signed photocopy release form at time of enrollment. NOTE: CD sheet music is permissible. No recorded accompaniments are permitted.

  • Accompanists: The student must provide his own accompanist, which may be his/her teacher. (No theory is required for teachers.) Accompanists must have original music, but may photocopy a page to facilitate page turns. No recorded accompaniments allowed.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Ensemble: Two pieces of a contrasting nature by different composers, preferably from two (2) different eras in the more advanced levels. All selections must be a minimum of 16 measures without repeats. Memory not required. Teachers may conduct or accompany their ensembles. No recorded accompaniments allowed. An ensemble is two students or more.  Any ensemble which includes a student of a non-member must be coached and entered by a PMTA member and pay an additional per student fee.

Theory Test

  • Theory score to perform at the state event must be 85% or higher.
  • Any student who has passed the highest level in their instrument is exempt from taking the test.
  • 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.

Dates & Locations


Check with your Local Festival Chairperson.


The 2017 State PMTA Solo and Ensemble Showcase Recitals and the PMTA Keystone Concerto Festival will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA. The online registration window is October 1, 2017 through 3:00 PM EST on Monday, October 16, 2017.


There is no official hotel.

Registration & Deadlines

Online registration began October 1, 2017 and ended at 3:00 pm EST, Monday, October 16, 2017. Only teachers may enter students for State Showcase Recitals online. No emails or US Mail forms will be accepted.

All student entry fees for the DSPF are non-refundable.

Fees & Payments


  • Check with your Local Festival Chair for the student entry fee for your Local Preliminary Audition.
  • Each Local Association must submit a $2.00 fee per student to PMTA to support PMTA events and the Dorothy Sutton Fund of the MTNA Foundation.


  • Fees are $13.00 per solo student, $20.00 per ensemble.
  • Teacher will pay online using Paypal or credit card ONLY. No checks will be accepted. 
  • Any member of an ensemble who is not a student of a PMTA member must pay an additional $10 per non-member student.
  • Teachers participating in the State event must attend and volunteer. If the teacher cannot attend, there is a $30.00 substitution fee which must be included with the registration fees. Parents may not be substitutes. A $20 penalty fee will be invoiced after the event to teachers failing to notify the state festival chair at least 48 hours in advance of the state event that their attendance status has changed.
  • Student must perform and be present to receive medal and certificate.

All student entry fees for the DSPF are non-refundable!

Certificate Reissues: If the request for a reissued certificate is due to the requesting teacher’s error, there is a $5 per certificate charge payable in advance. If an error was made by PMTA the certificate will be reissued at no cost.

State Showcase Recital Schedule

The state recital schedule will be emailed to participating teachers and posted on this website within ten (10) days of the close of registration.

Contact Information

Direct all questions regarding Local Preliminary Auditions to your Local Association DSPF Chair. Parent should not contact the State Chair. All participating teachers must have an email address to enroll students, as all communications will be done via email. All performance information will be sent by email and posted on website.

PMTA State Festival Chair:
Theresa Smith

For More Information: