Gala Combines Texas Flair with Rising Young Classical Music Artists

The co-chairs of this year’s Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, from left, are Alan “Barb” and Mimi Sadler and Garlaine and Emmett Kelly.

CONROE, Texas – Feb. 8, 2018 – It will be an evening of Texas barbecue, cowboy boots and dancing to live Texas music plus classical pieces performed by some of the world’s most talented young musicians on Saturday, March 10. That's when the Young Texas Artists Music Competition (YTA) presents its 34th annual benefit evening.

The Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala has a “Wild About Texas” theme this year, and festivities will take place in historic downtown Conroe.

“There’s nothing quite like it,” said Garlaine Kelly, a gala co-chair with her husband, Emmett Kelly, along with Mimi and Alan “Barb” Sadler. “You begin with a cocktail party. Then you have live Texas music, dancing and barbecue, followed by a fabulous classical music concert. Historically, our concerts have featured amazing young talent from around the world – the finalists in our competition.

“Every year after the concert, people tell us what a wonderful experience it was to hear such exceptional musicians performing in Conroe. This is truly a unique event, attracting some of classical music’s most talented rising stars!”

Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue begins at 5 p.m. with a reception at LoneStar Bar in the historic Martin’s Hall, 219 Simonton St.

At 5:45 p.m., attendees will mosey under a canopy to the Grand Pavilion on Simonton Street, where guests will enjoy a Texas-style barbecue dinner, dancing to live music by Bill Mock & The Highway 105 Band and a live auction.

The highlight of the evening will be Young Texas Artists Music Competition’s concert of classics, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Crighton Theatre, around the corner. There, finalists in YTA’s four divisions – Piano; Voice; Strings; and Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar – will perform for the judges’ panel before the winners are announced.

“You’re sitting there hearing the best of the best,” Kelly said. “And while you’re in the audience, you get to participate by voting for the audience favorite of the night.”

Serving as master of ceremonies at the concert will be Eric Skelly, classical music and opera reviewer for the Houston Chronicle.

After the concert, gala guests are invited to return to the Grand Pavilion for dancing, chocolates and homemade desserts provided by the Conroe Service League. All of the YTA competitors are invited, giving guests an opportunity to toast this year’s winners.

Gala proceeds help support YTA, an official music competition of the state of Texas, which provides performance, growth and career development opportunities for classical artists, ages 18-30, who are Texas residents or enrolled in a Texas music school.

“The artists look forward to coming here,” Mimi Sadler said. “It’s a springboard to higher platforms for them. For 34 years, our competition winners have gone on to perform with some of the top orchestras and opera companies in the world. They’ve won some of classical music’s most prestigious awards and even received Grammy nominations!”

During the week of the music competition, many competitors stay in the homes of community volunteers. The young musicians receive written critiques from the YTA judges, who represent some of the top music schools and performing arts organizations in the U.S. YTA also offers a Career Development Program and performance opportunities, along with a total of $20,000 in monetary prizes.

In addition to the reception, dinner and dancing, the gala will feature a live auction where guests will have an opportunity to bid on the chance to have a Steinway & Sons Spirio grand piano in their home for two weeks. The high-tech player piano, which will be displayed during the guest reception, performs classical music, jazz, showtunes, pop and more, exactly as performed by master musicians from Van Cliburn to Billy Joel to George Gershwin.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kelly said. “With Spirio, you get to enjoy the performances of the greatest concert artists of all time.”

Additional auction items will include a dinner package, a high tea, a bed and breakfast stay and a Mary Frances designer purse.

It also is meaningful, Kelly said, to have an opportunity to support area artist NicoleeMcCowen. YTA has displayed McCowen’s “Wild About Texas” painting on the gala invitations and posters.

Reservations and Tickets

Reservations to the gala and the Finalists' Concert and Awards are available under the Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue - Purchase Reservations tab.They are also available at, or by calling the Crighton Theatre Box Office at 936-441-SHOW (7469). 

Gala tickets are $150 for single admission ($125 for YTA Circle and volunteers). Concert-only tickets are $28; $16 for students.

The Young Texas Artists Music Competition concert is the finale event of the Rising Stars and Legends of Texas. Those attending RSLT will be admitted to the YTA concert at 7:30 p.m. at no charge by showing their wristband.

Host Homes

Because competitors arrive from all parts of Texas to compete, there is a need to find local families willing to host one or two of these young artists in their homes during auditions. Those interested in hosting are asked to contact David Hwa

For sponsorship information and to learn about the many ways to volunteer, contact Susie Pokorski at 936-756-7017 or

Photo: The co-chairs of this year’s Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, from left, are Alan “Barb” and Mimi Sadler and Garlaine and Emmett Kelly. Photo by Cris Woods.


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