top of page
Classical Piano

Des Moines Area Piano Festival

The fifth annual event will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Salisbury House & Gardens in Des Moines.


Information and Registration

1 p.m., Sunday, February 25, 2024
Salisbury House & Gardens (4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines IA 50312)


Presented by: Mobile Music Lessons

Sponsored by: Museum of Danish AmericaSalisbury House & GardensWest Music Des Moines Piano Gallery


Thank you for your interest in the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival, a professionally-adjudicated performance opportunity for students in a friendly, welcoming environment.

About the Festival:

The fifth annual Festival will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Salisbury House & Gardens. Pianists in grades K-12 from the Des Moines metro area (Des Moines and all surrounding suburbs) are invited to participate. The Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition will be held in conjunction with the Des Moines Area Piano Festival. Total 2024 participants will be capped at 54. In the case of inclement weather, the Festival may switch to a virtual platform. 

Approximate Schedule:

1-3:15 p.m.: Auditions (including Victor Borge Legacy Award auditions)

3:30-4 p.m.: Master Class with Dr. Nicholas Roth

4-4:30 p.m.: Seminar on Expressive Timing and Rubato with Dr. Marion Scott

4:30 p.m.: Announcement of the winners of the Victor Borge Legacy Award


To register, please complete the following steps: 

1. Fill out the registration form.

2. Pay the $35 registration fee (payable at or via the link on the registration form).  The registration fee includes an audition on a Steinway piano, adjudication scoring/comments and a participation ribbon, and access to the seminars by the adjudicators. The registration form and payment must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 9 before a student is registered to participate in the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival and/or the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition. Participants will be notified of their audition time by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, February 19. All performance times are final and no refunds will be offered. 

Audition Information: 

Please arrive early for your assigned audition time and enter and exit quietly to respect fellow participants.


Respectable decorum is expected from all Festival participants, families and instructors. Individuals that do not display respectable decorum will be asked to leave, and refunds will not be granted.


You are welcome to stay and listen to others' auditions. All are encouraged to stay for the seminars (see schedule above). All entrants should bring their score (with measures numbered) to the audition.



Memorization is required for participants in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition, as winners must perform memorized in a future winners' recital (Sunday, April 21, 2024) and memorization is a critical component of professional piano careers.


Memorization is not required for the regular division of the Festival, although it will be part of the adjudication criteria. Entrants that do not memorize their pieces should still bring a score with numbered measures to the audition.

Adjudication Criteria & Evaluation:

All participants will be evaluated by a professional adjudicator and will receive a rating, comments and a participation ribbon corresponding to their score. Each student will begin with a technical exercise (below) and then perform a piece that showcases the student's current playing level.


Each audition is a maximum of five minutes total per student (including technique, for the regular and Victor Borge divisions). Memorization is not required for the regular division, although memorization is part of the adjudication criteria, which may be viewed here. Memorization is required for both the technical and repertoire components of the Victor Borge portion. The rating and comments will be sent to the student's instructor shortly after the Festival. 

Technical Exercise Requirements:

Please consult with your student's instructor regarding your student's current playing level. Scales and cadence patterns are to be in the key of the audition piece and memorized if competing in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition. The audition will progress in the following order: scale, cadence pattern, audition piece.

  • Beginner: Play a one-octave scale and a I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands (chords may be simplified).

  • Intermediate: Play a two-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands. 

  • Advanced: Play a four-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands.

Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition: 

If the participating Piano Festival entrant is at an advanced playing level and in grades 8-12, they are invited to participate in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition at the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival. No additional repertoire is required, and the student will be adjudicated as part of his/her Piano Festival audition. Victor Borge entrants must memorize their technical exercises and repertoire piece.


Previous second place Victor Borge Legacy Award winners are eligible to enter; previous first place Legacy Award winners are ineligible to enter. First and second place winners will receive an award of $1,000 and $500, respectively, which will be given to the winners after they perform at least two memorized, classical pieces (10 minutes total) in a recital (Sunday, April 21, 2024) on the Victor Borge piano at the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. Failure to perform in the recital will result in forfeiting the award money. In addition, winners will submit a 500-word essay about the legacy of Victor Borge (by TBD April 2024), which will be judged by a panel that includes Borge's daughter, Janet Borge Crowle, for an additional $500 cash prize.

Funding for the Victor Borge Legacy Award is provided through a generous gift from R. James and Janet Borge Crowle, Saint Michaels, Maryland. Additional support provided by the Charles W. and Norma J. Wilson Foundation and the Eric & Joan Norgaard Charitable Trust.



With questions, please email Des Moines Area Piano Festival Director Sophia S. Ahmad at or Managing Director Genasee Post at

Follow @DSMPianoFestival:

Facebook | Instagram

2024 Adjudicators

Marion Scott_edited.jpg

Dr. Marion Scott

Adjudicator, Victor Borge Legacy Award

Dr. Marion Wilkinson Scott made his debut at the age of 14 under the baton of Roger Nuremberg. In 2006, his musicality and technical prowess earned first prize at the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition and second prize at the Zimmerli Foundation International Piano Competition. Dr. Scott was also named the winner of the 2010 International Piano Competition hosted by the Steinway Society of Massachusetts. He has given concerts both nationally and internationally.


In addition to solo performance, Dr. Scott is an enthusiast for chamber music playing and has performed in noted concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Kilbourn Hall, and Crouse Hall. He has also performed at Music Festivals such as the Brevard Music Festival, the renowned Pianofest in the Hamptons, and the Joseph Gingold Chamber Music Festival among others. He actively performs with his wife, Rosa Villar-Córdova Scott, as a piano duo.


Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in performance from the Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music Degree from the Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Frost School of Music. He is currently the Music Director at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

Roth 2022_edited_edited_edited.jpg

Dr. Nicholas Roth

Adjudicator, Des Moines Area Piano Festival

Nicholas Roth began formal studies at age twelve, receiving critical acclaim for his appearances by the age of eighteen. He appeared as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony and the Indianapolis Symphony under Raymond Leppard, among many others. Roth is a featured performer and teacher throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He is a Yamaha Artist, a Beethoven Fellow of the American Pianists Association, earned prizes in the chamber music competitions of Tortona and Pietra Ligure, Italy, and received a DAAD grant to further his studies in Germany.

Roth holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University, Artist Diplomas in solo piano performance and art song collaboration from the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, and MM and BM degrees from Indiana University, where he was also the recipient of the Jacobs School of Music's highest honors, including the Performer’s Certificate and the Joseph Battista Memorial Scholarship. He studied with Ralph Votapek, Elisso Virsaladze, Helmut Deutsch, Edward Auer, Emilio del Rosario, and Michel Block. Roth has taught masterclasses at Indiana University, SoundSCAPE Festival in Italy, Isidor Bajić School of Music in Serbia, Conservatorio Superior Nacional de Musica in Quito, Ecuador, International Beethoven Festival in Chicago, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Chicago and many other schools in the USA. He was a presenter for the European Piano Teachers Association World Piano Conference in Serbia and is an Accreditation Examiner with distinction (Diploma of Excellence) for the World Piano Teachers Association. A Nationally Certified Teacher of the Music Teachers
National Association, he is a frequent presenter, adjudicator and administrator for MTNA events.


Roth was honored by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana for his contributions to the performing arts, his accomplishments as a concert pianist, and his inspiration to young musicians. He has presented masterclasses and concerts at Minzu University, Beijing Normal University and Art Education School of Huaxi in China as well as Pusan National University in South Korea. He has also taught for the Edward Auer Summer Piano Workshop at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University and the Classical Music Festival Piano Seminar in Eisenstadt (Austria). Since 2017, Roth has
served on the faculty of the Ono Zone International Music Festival in Quito, Ecuador.


Roth is Professor of Piano at Drake University. Previous appointments include University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and Alma College. He has recorded for the Blue Griffin, Naxos, MSR Classics & Innova recording labels. His recordings with Blue Griffin have garnered exceptional reviews from International Record Review, Gramophone, Fanfare, and American Record Guide.

Roth recently participated in a performance of the Hexaméron for six pianos and orchestra in Baku, Azerbaijan. He was featured on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and collaborated with Robert Spano in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Roth is the founder of the Drake University Keys to Excellence Piano Series, featuring
renowned artists from all over the world.

bottom of page