Vote: Did anyone deserve gold in the Tchaikovsky Competition?

July 3, 2015, 7:33 AM ·

tchaik

As you have probably read earlier this week, the violin jury of the Tchaikovsky International Competition awarded no gold in the violin division this year.

Jury member James Ehnes explained that the way the voting worked, "no one had the votes." Of course, the perception, when you give no gold, is that no one deserved it. We don't know how the jury felt, but considering the outcome, we have to assume they did not make any extra efforts to come to a majority decision to give anyone a gold medal.

Is this actually because the "general level was simply so low," as one anonymous poster who said he/she was at the finals stated?

Modern technology allowed a reported 10 million viewers to witness this competition, so it's not like the old days, when we just had to rely on the audience that was there in person. There are plenty of discerning listeners that saw this competition and can judge as well. So, in your opinion, was the level just too low for the jury to give out a gold, and risk launching someone's career at the wrong time? Or were there performers who deserved gold, a performer that you would make the effort go see in concert? (If you want to watch some performances, here is the link for the Medici feed and archive.)

Jury members for violin were: Salvatore Accardo, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, Liana Isakadze, Leonidas Kavakos, Ilya Kaler, Boris Kushnir, Mihaela Martin, Vadim Repin, Roman Simovic, Viktor Tretyakov, Maxim Fedotov, Vera Tsu Wei Ling, James Ehnes, Michael Haefliger and Nikolaj Znaider.

Tchaik jury 2015
The 2015 jury, announcing semi-finalists.

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Replies

July 3, 2015 at 03:25 PM · With all due respect, what good will it do to vote for a result that will not change? The jury is bound by the rules of the competition. Even the highest ranking violinist who has the second place played at least 3 notes out of tune in the Sibelius Concerto. I believe that it is kind of rude to judge the jury's decision this way. If they awarded no gold medal, it means no one deserved it. I'm sure the jury members are not thrilled with this outcome either.

July 3, 2015 at 03:27 PM · There is a third scenario. The quality was so high that the jurors could not agree on one player as "the best".

July 3, 2015 at 04:43 PM · Here's what I said on Facebook: It seems to me that they did not withhold anything. No one got enough first place votes is the way I understand the decision. That just tells me that nobody stood out from the crowd enough and that all the contestants were on too close a footing. I think people are making way too big a deal out of this but I think the judges simply followed the rules closely with no ill intent and probably did not expect such backlash. Frankly, I've heard of plenty of competitions where nobody was awarded first prize because nobody earned it. The same thing happens in orchestra auditions around the world everyday. You don't get to win the concertmaster position just because you were the best person to audition. You have to actually be good enough to be concertmaster. Or, in this case, you just have to be good enough to stand out and above the rest. This could actually just mean that the level was too high but too close. Maybe more than one person deserved first but naming more than one first place winner is not allowed from my understanding of the rules.

July 3, 2015 at 05:00 PM · I got the impression when reading about how the jury voted, that there were different oppinions on who was the best. Well, if that is the case then there could very well be many who deserves gold. The rules should be made so they take care of such a situation instead of made in way that expects that one player is better. After all it could very well be a matter of taste regarding who is best.

July 3, 2015 at 06:51 PM · The level was too high for me to win gold. :)

July 3, 2015 at 07:08 PM · It sounds from the comments so far that the problem is with the voting system, rather than the jury. A voting system that has only one ballot in which each voter has only one vote may well fail to deliver a winner when the overall standard is very high.

There must be several solutions to this problem. One is:

1. In the first ballot each member of the jury places a vote for anyone they think worthy of a gold. Each candidate who attracts a vote from more than 50% of the jury goes forward to the second ballot.

2. In the second ballot, the jury vote for the winner, with or without transferable votes (Perhaps more than a single transferable vote would not be that meaningful?). The winner of that ballot is declared the winner, even if the total vote obtained by the winner is quite low.

These two ballots in combination should ensure a winner of gold if and only if the jury consider that gold should be awarded at all.

I would be interested to know what the vote was, but it seems I may not be able to find that out without voting myself, which I do not think I am competent to do.

July 3, 2015 at 07:31 PM · Actually it is not the level of the violinists too low. I think the fact to play 2 warhorse concertos in one concert without intermission is a little bit too physically challenging. No other competition set rules like this. Maybe they should schedule alternative nights to allow violinists play the 2 warhorse concertos at different nights. Also for competition it makes sense to choose less risky peice. I think Clara Jumi Kang's fiendishly difficult and not so pleasing peice the Ernst's "Last Rose variation" did her in also.

July 3, 2015 at 07:54 PM · There was already a full disclosure on both the rules and what exactly happened within the juries and the confines of the rules they're governed by. I feel it's a bit disrespectful to both Mr. Ehnes and the competition to keep carrying on over it with a poll and continuing to make a mountain out of a mole hill at this point. It is not the first time there was no first prize awarded, nor will it be the last unless they overhaul the entire process. Same with other competitions where it's not all too uncommon to not award a certain prize due to rules and regulations. This may be unpopular, but let it be already and respect what has already been explained in depth.

July 4, 2015 at 01:40 AM · Actually these competition to me sometimes are too harsh to the competitiors. In Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center when we hear established violinists performe Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, we hear more slips and questionable intonation than say Clara Jumi Kang and Benny Tseng did at the Tchaikovsky final. I would actually rather pay to listen to Clara, Soyoung Yoon (who placed 2nd after Clara Jumi Kang at the Indiana, and later won gold at Wieniawski), Benny Tseng and Olexsii Semenenko (who won silver at the recent Elizabeth ) play these warhorse concertos than those established violinists performing at Lincoln Center, Carnegie hall and other world top tier concert halls.

July 4, 2015 at 01:41 AM · I didn't vote. I agree with John A that this topic has been trodden well enough, and I think the choice of options is insufficient as pointed out by Bob and by Lars above.

Okay, so it's a competition with unusual rules that results in no gold medal once in a while. As a casual spectator, it's disappointing that there's no gold, but the idea of "re-voting" or something to generate enough votes for a gold seems to be contrary to the contest rules (and probably for good reason). Once you've set the rules, you've got to follow them. The time to complain about the rules was BEFORE the competition was even organized. And I doubt they will change them.

July 4, 2015 at 06:06 AM · It seems to me that it's a matter of principle. I could be mistaken, but the rules doesn't state that they have to do this, but they "have the right to" not award all prizes. They could have put their heads together and found a solution. Instead, nobody won. They made a decision that disappointed not only the general public, but young artists everywhere who are wasting...YES WASTING...their childhood and youth preparing for this contest. Imagine being that young person who should have gotten first. Their careers are depending on these results. Being tied for third with two other people is asinine, in a contest where there was no winner. These results were meaningless. Instead of remembering the name of the winner, I will remember the scandalous results of a jury that cares more about optional rules than the careers of the participants. This jury could have put their heads together and found a solution that didn't pass the message that none of the violinists there were deserving of first place.

With all the negative comments being made about competitions in the violin world, and especially online in various blogs and social media, you would think they jury would find a solution that didn't give The Tchaikovsky Competition a black eye.

As far as Mr. Ehnes being upset about a comment that you made during the online conversation that resulted from your blog entry of July 1, that's life online. There are worse things being said than this. After all, you did say, "It almost feels like a breach of contract." You didn't say, "They are crooks." You have the right to your opinion and I agree with what you said. In a way it was the breach of an unspoken contract that had lasted their wholes lives up until that point: If you work hard and develop you craft you will be The Best. But, students will still strive to get into this competition because, hey, what other choice do they have? This is the system in place that you have to suffer through in order to introduce you to the violin world. It's your Debutants Ball.

The perception of the ruling is just as important as whether the jury understood that they had to "right" to make it. I believe that the use of the word "right" in the rules is an error. It is an option and they are not forced to use it.

July 4, 2015 at 10:18 AM · Just listened to the gala concert and have to say that I stand with the jury on this one.

July 4, 2015 at 11:36 AM · The voting appeared to throw up a clear leader, "Benny" Tseng. If the jury believed his performance per se was not gold medal standard and, therefore, awarded him the silver medal, there's no problem. If, however, it was simply the rules that prevented his getting gold, then there IS a problem with the rules.

Well-known examples of ties for gold in the past include the Leventritt of 1967 with Pinchas Zuckerman and Kyung-Wha Chung, and the Tchaikovsky, yes, the Tchaikovsky, of 1962 with Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon. Do we now think the decisions to award gold then were inappropriate? Apparently the rules of the Tchaikovsky were changed in 2011, but even before that, there were years when gold could could have been awarded and wasn't, e.g., 1994 when Jennifer Koh was in a tie for silver (which must make her second-rate now, mustn't it).

If the new voting system really now prevents the jury from ever giving joint gold, however much they may think it to be deserved, then I think the mathematician who designed it, John MacBain should be banished for life to the most obscure and innumerate corner of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and never heard of again (At least St Kilda has a tune named after it, even if it has no PEOPLE on it!)!

July 4, 2015 at 11:39 AM · Dear Lisa Fogler

You seem to not have read Mr .Ehnes' words carefully enough.

The rules say that in order to Award a gold medal there must be a super majority of 8 out 11 9 out of 13 etc. There wasn't and so whatever anyone May t hink about it no gold medal Can be awarded. Now, whether the jury could decide to go against the rules and Award someone a gold is pure speculation. Unless we were there we don't know. Secondly, you saying that Young people Are wasting their childhoods because of this competition is a statement that makes it unsure whether you are here trolling or you sincerely mean what you write. Nobody's goal can be to win a competition. Surely only out of love of music would one make the sacrifices necessary to enjoy a life in music?!?. Winning a competition can at best be a vehicle in allowing you to be able to make music your profession.

I think there are essentially two questions relevant here and sometimes they seem to get mixed together in these comments.

The first relevant point is whether or not the Tchaikovsky Competition should give out a good medal always as a kind of "highest placed wins highest prize". This could be debated either way but for the Tchaikovsky 2015 the rules were clear as described by mr. Ehnes.

Second relevant point is whether or not the level was high enough.

Here, again I refer to mr. Ehnes who refuses to discuss this point in public,

not wanting to take away from Tsengs joy of the moment.

In other words, the discussion is academic at best.

I would add that we should all put it into context, if someone is truly

Deserving they will make their way regardless of a competition result.

Examples abound of forgotten 1. Prize winners and super star 3., 4., 5. And 6, prize winners.

When they make it exercise your right to support them by attending their concerts and buying their recordings.

Best to all.

P.S. Full disclosure, I felt the level was well below what is acceptable in order to award a first prize but I respect other people's right to disagree

July 4, 2015 at 01:46 PM · It seems like a very distinguished jury. Who are we to argue ?

July 4, 2015 at 02:39 PM · On the other hand, since the rules were spelled out in advance, it'd be a breach of contract if the jury were to deviate from them in order to name a gold. One could argue that the competitors could have anticipated this outcome being a possibility when they chose to enter the competition and not entered if they disagreed. Here the jurors each picked whom they thought deserved first place, but no candidate received a supermajority. If they were to bend the voting rules ad hoc in order to award a gold, other problems could arise. Like more politics and discussion among the jurors.

Maybe they should modify the rules next time (in advance) in order to avoid this problem of no gold. But it could still be controversial and hard to make everyone happy. For example, suppose two candidates were split for gold vs. 6th while there was more consensus on the silver prize. Who among the three should get the gold? The jury is in a tough position either way.

July 4, 2015 at 04:28 PM · First of all, if this is "making a mountain out of a molehill," then we'd have to agree that the Tchaikovsky Competition is a "molehill." Seems like it's still an important competition, and certainly it had the support of many respected musicians. That makes the outcome an important and very public statement, it would seem. But debate that too, if you wish.

As for Lisa's comments, she is no troll (she's among those posting under her own name, so any comments of hers are more valuable than the anonymous ones). She simply has just said something in a very frank way, that many people feel. If no one has noticed, the water is flowing way the heck around classical music these days. This competition exemplifies one very annoying thing about the classical community, and specifically the violin community: that we've decided that our level is so high that we can't hold up one of our own as an elite musician worthy of a gold medal and the career boost that affords.

But who, these days, has a career playing the violin? Who is the number one-selling violinist who has probably played live to more people and certainly had her recordings circulated than Heifetz did in his whole life? Yes, Lindsey Stirling. Does she DESERVE a career? No way am I going to trash on her, she does something completely different and I respect her for blazing that successful path and finding support for it. But there is a point to be made: Maybe it's not about DESERVING a career. It's simply about whether or not we as a classical community decide to support and promote the careers of our young artists who are devoting their lives to classical music. If this competition fails to support the best we have to offer in classical music, which make no mistake, is a very high level of artist, then it isn't helping anyone. When an audience member gets excited about someone and roots for them, then the jury says, "really, you idiot, none of them was worthy of gold," -- what is that message? When no violinists gets a gold medal, in 12 years, what is that message? Argue all you want about the rules, but understand the huge statement it makes to millions of people.

I'm disgusted. I just can't help it. I'm all for celebrating the very highest level of violin playing and having a high standard, but this is insanity. There has to be a way to help young artists, a way that is actually helpful, that doesn't put them through this hell, for no helpful outcome.

And if you want to talk about the final concert: People play better after getting a gold medal, not after being slapped in the face.

July 4, 2015 at 05:20 PM · 2015 Tchaikovsky International Music Competition -- Final Results (Another Opinion)

Thank you to my music friends who have asked for my opinions on the final results of the 2015 Tchaikovsky International Competition. Many of you know that my preferences of prize winners are usually the competitors who have the total package, the “IT” factor. My viewpoint is more of a “commercial potential”, rather than just technical perfection and one that pleases academic professors. In an ideal situation, I truly believe that top prize winners of a major competition such as the Tchaikovsky should be great ambassadors to the competition and mutually help each other maintain their reputations. It was interesting to see that 4th prize winners of this year’s competition were my true favorites (except for the VOCAL DIVISION, Men’s).

Before I provide my personal commentary, I do want to specially recognize Richard Rodzinski for doing an outstanding job of bringing the 2015 Tchaikovsky International Competition to people all around the world. He is someone that I truly respect as an arts leader and his involvement with this competition will only help the competition’s reputation in the future. He did an excellent job when he was the former President of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Fort Worth, Texas’ loss is Russia’s gain.

The Tchaikovsky International Music Competition is one of the largest, most prestigious, and most difficult competition in the world. Everyone who participated is tremendously talented and should be proud of the experience. Unfortunately, politics and “other factors” can influence the final outcome (with an outcome that many can disagree with).

PIANO SECTION:

This year’s piano competition was an exciting, but had very different outcome than what many have expected. My preferred rankings would have been as follows:

1. Lucas Debargue (France)

2. George Li (USA)

3. Lukas Geniusas (Russia)

4. Reed Tetzloff (USA)

5. Dmitry Masleev (Russia)

6. Daniel Kharitonov (Russia)

In my book, Sergei Redkin would have not advanced to the finals (instead I would have replaced him with Reed Tetzloff from the USA). Many of the people in the audience has two big favorites – Lucas Debargue and George Li. Both are exceptional artists. Although I felt George Li was a stronger “overall” competitor and did better in the concerto finals, Lucas had the most special “musical quality” that seemed like he was a reincarnation of Samson Francois. Up to the chamber concerto round, I felt Lucas slightly had the edge. However, George Li excelled in all rounds. My reason for placing him slightly behind Lucas is that he needs a little more maturity. Despite the actual results, I was truly happy for George and he represented USA very well. It would have been great to see Lucas be the first ever gold medalist from France.

VIOLIN SECTION:

Similar to the 2011 Violin Competition, this year’s violin competition had no “gold medalist”. There were many incredible violinists and I was glad that I didn’t have to be on the actual jury. My rankings are as follows:

1. Clara-Jumi Kang (South Korea)

2. Haik Kazazyan (Russia)

3. Yu-Chien “Benny” Tseng (Taiwan)

4. Mayu Kishima (Japan)

5. Bonsori Kim (South Korea)

6. Alexandra Conunova (Moldova)

This year’s violin jury had tremendous difficulty reaching a consensus and thus the results shocked everyone. For me, I was disappointed Mayu Kishima from Japan did not make the finals and would have replaced her with Pavel Milyukov from Russia. The most surprising shock was Clara-Jumi Kang not winning the gold medal. Clara has it all – she is like the Yuna Kim of violin. She has beauty, impeccable technique, solid musicianship, great PR skills, and the total “IT” factor. It was rather strange that she wanted to take the risk of entering this ever controversial competition, despite her Gold Medal successes at the other major international competitions. The judges preferred Yu-Chien “Benny” Tseng from Taiwan over Haik Kazazyan from Russia. Both are very top notch competitors. I slightly preferred Haik Kazazyan over Yu-Chien. Haik is a great representation of the old Russian school of violin playing and I’m sure Tchaikovsky would have given a nod of approval. Yu-Chien Tseng is a wonderful violinist, but lacks a little bit of artistic maturity. Everything he did was “clean-cut”, technically good, but not risk-taking. Although very young, I found Bonsori Kim from South Korea to be very promising. She might not be ready to be a medal contender at this moment, but I heard superb musicianship and she will do great for her future career. I was very happy to see a competitor from the under-represented country of Moldova make it to the finals. Alexandra Conunova was artistically interesting, but technically little bit off. I thought her final performances were very good, yet her gala concert was a little off (possibly due to fatigue).

CELLO SECTION:

1. Pablo Ferrandez-Castro (Spain)

2. Jonathan Roozeman (Netherlands)

3. Andrei Ionina (Roumania)

4. Alexander Buzlov (Russia)

5. Alexander Ramm (Russia)

6. Seung-Min Kang (South Korea)

One discipline that I agreed with at least the names of the finalists (but not the ranking) was the CELLO competition. I was disappointed to see Pablo Ferrandez-Castro from Spain not placed higher. He was a true artist and along with Edgar Moreau and Gautier Capucon, he is going to be one of the next cellists to watch. Plus, it would have been great to see a first gold medalist ever from Spain (like the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships). Jonathan Roozeman from Netherlands was a solid competitor but played a bit “safe” at times. The declared winner Andrei Ionina from Roumania was stellar, but I felt he focused more on pyrotechnics instead of emotion. The two Russians were very good and the Seung-Min Kang from South Korea was actually interesting.

So there you have it! This is my personal opinion. I am not looking to start any debates or be disrespectful to anyone. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is my opinion.

Best wishes to all of these excellent musicians for having the courage to do participate in this year’s Tchaikovsky Competition.

July 4, 2015 at 05:53 PM · I wonder if it's time to drastically change the way classical music competitions are judged.

I have heard people saying the jury was looking for the next superstar. Now, there can be no superstar without overwhelming public support. That means, the majority of the jury should consist of people OTHER THAN violinists; there should be managers, producers, music label investors, marketers, trendsetters, columnists, broadcasters, classical music lovers, etc. Basically, the very people who make superstars possible.

So the scoring could be divided between these people and the professional violinists with a 70-30 split. After all, people who will eventually pay for tickets or sell them should have more say about who they think should win.

But this kind of judging will probably not happen in classical music because it will make competitions to become more like Dancing with the Stars.

July 4, 2015 at 07:49 PM · From the webcast, I followed up from Round I, II to the final. Just my opinion to the previous comment only, Jumi Kang did a wonderful job in round I and II, also showing a lot of her confidence and musical performance, and I once thought she could win the gold (even though I think Yu Jing Jang played better than Kang for the Chausson’s poeme in her 2011 Tch XIV semi final). But in contrast to the small hall’s solo pieces; Jumi Kang messed up some parts in the final round, only a bit not very in sync with conductor Yuri Simonov. However, that doesn’t mean she is not a good player. Whilst Tseng performs much better in final round, with much dynamics, creativity and intonation, and more importantly in the situation which is physically challenging due to playing heavy concertos in one night. Therefore I am not surprised that Tseng won the violin section.

Back to the topic, one of the jurors, Maxim Vengerov said in an interview on medici TV right before the results announcement. He said when he became a juror of the final he watched previous rounds’ videos and he is poised not to take into consideration of finalist’ performance in Round I and II. I do not totally agree with this. All contestants have to trying hard in round I, and II in order not to get eliminated. Once 6 finalists are chosen, it began the hardest part for contestants: playing the 2 concertos with orchestra in concert hall. A gold medal of course to be chosen in this stage. Any super star’s performance in round I, II should not interfere or became a noise of the decision for gold prize winner if a super star lose in this stage.

I also do not think the level of these contestants is too low this year. Watching round I,II and final not implying this conclusion to me. I believe not to all who followed all rounds here. Quite opposite I must say. This super majority rules could also hint that for the previous competition years those who won gold medal in violin section probably met contestants with level that is much lower than him/her. If there were video/audio technology as good as webcast provider such as medici TV this year (thank you medici tv), we would be able to compare in between. But I always think a competition is always comparing in between apples to apples (same year competitors), not apple to banana (contestants of previous years or Heifetz or Oistrakh).

A flaw is there, the super majority vote could prevent a gold medal winner if Heifetz and Oistrakh were together in one Tchaikovsky competition. And to the worst, there were 3 bronze medalists. How did Juror said about it? I haven’t heard any answer about it, other than no gold winner.

July 4, 2015 at 10:51 PM · Dear Laurie

There Are many points that you make that are valid and that I should like to debate with you in a constructive Way.

You obviously care deeply about the future of music and that fact alone deserves praise.

However, I find it hard to stomach that you are opinionated to the point where many counter arguments you receive need to be re- butted and comments that are in line with your own are defended uncritically.

I also find it difficult to agree with you that a comment written by someone under an actual name should be more valuable than an anonymous one as the internet is by default anonymous and un-regulated. Let's let content rule:)

All of this, though, still could be forgiven. It is when you say that you are disgusted with the result the jury arrived at (and how you say it) that I must break with this forum after only 2 days reading.

The only message I can take from your comment, sadly , is that if the jury (or anyone else for that matter) disagrees with your opinion on whether or not to award a gold medal, they somehow care less about the future of music, less about young musicians. In my opinion, that takes presumption to a whole new level and the discourse is no longer fruitful and constructive. It is now a "with me or against me" forum where we listen only to respond and not to understand. What a pity! The idea that created this blog is wonderful

I wish you enlightenment, contentment and success.

July 5, 2015 at 12:10 AM · Hadn't such kind of debate popping up every single time when there was a competition's result announced?

Why'd people be foolishly wasting time on these endless debates on the meaningless thing called music competition?

As quoted Ivan Hewett's regarding J. Lloyd-Webber's on music competition:

"(Competitions) have become a vast cancerous excrescence on the body of classical music, which needs to be cut away."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/10990853/We-must-abolish-music-competitions.html

July 5, 2015 at 03:29 AM · Other segments of the industry benefit from competitions, not just the musicians themselves. When someone takes gold in a major competition, then an orchestra or recording label can include that in their marketing. And these days every little bit helps. Competitions aren't going away any time soon, nor is the bickering that surrounds them.

July 5, 2015 at 06:25 AM · Tchaikovsky a "molehill" ?

Well, at least the finalists were not the pupils of jury members.

The rules were clearly given BEFORE the competition and the jury proceeded by the letter.

If the contestants do not like the rules they do not need to participate and can enter another competition. Obviously by entering they agreed with the rules.

No vote in the poll, the jury did good work enough already.

July 5, 2015 at 07:58 AM · Why is this such a big deal?! They did not give out a first place. So what?! soem of the biggest violinists of today only got third in a national violin competition or did not make it through the cuts in international competitions and these two are playing literally all over the world, with the best orchestras. One of them is a best selling violinist!

I also know that winning major competitions is not a guaranteed way to a successful career. Most of the finalist already had a quite impressive list of competitions behind them. So could it be that "the perfect competition violinist" is not the kind of violinist we would buy tickets for, or cd's?

Or is there a different problem?

July 5, 2015 at 11:53 AM · When so many, so-fine young artists compete, it's maybe useful to remember that any winner wins at that one moment, not forever. It's not, usually, an indication that one player is overall, and permanently, the most outstanding. Rather like the triple crown in US thoroughbred racing--when one horse wins all three races in the single year, it's safe(r) to say that horse is truly outstanding; when three different horses win the individual races, each is still a fine horse. The greater the number who compete...

{Did anyone else note the [anonymous] poster who says s/he has wiped the dust of V-com from his/her feet after 2 days on the forum b/c the moderator has strong opinions on this topic? Odd}

July 5, 2015 at 03:15 PM · I agree with you Laurie that it is a shame no first prize is awarded, but from the nature of the poll and your response to other comments, it looks like you are casting aside what seems to be a fact (how unfortunate that fact may be) and that is that the level was simply too similar. Not necessarily the level too low or high, but no one stood out as the clear winner. Why have you not included an option in the vote for 'overall level too high and similar? The general public probably have no idea about this which is a shame too, but I think it's unfair to (indirectly) call out James Ehnes on this. I'd be pretty happy as one of the other finalists to know that I was ranked pretty close to first!

July 5, 2015 at 06:51 PM · Indeed, "the perfect competition violinist" is not necessarily the kind of violinist we would buy tickets for, or cd's.

"The perfect competition violinist" and "the perfect violinist" are usually very different violinists.

July 5, 2015 at 07:04 PM · Yes, if someone disagrees with my opinion, we probably do disagree! But I've certainly welcomed everyone to the conversation, and I'm very glad we have had the conversation, as prickly as it's been.

I understand that we want to hold high standards. I'm grateful for the people who live those standards, who work insanely hard for them and who are loathe to lower the standards. My opinion was that, based on the standards of the competition, a gold medal was deserved by someone. I don't envy those who have to make those calls, I think it was particularly difficult this year. I think the rules didn't help, in this case.

When a competition happens every four years, it's a rare chance to highlight our best and brightest. My opinion is, that if, for whatever reason, there's no gold given, we lose an opportunity. It's an opportunity not just for one of those competitors, but an opportunity for the entire community to celebrate our elite talent and to showcase it to non-violinists around the world who might be caught up in the celebration.

I'm of the opinion that this particular competition did indeed attract and show off elite talent, and it showed it to many people across the globe, via the Internet. That's a triumph.

Thank you to everyone for all your opinions, whether I agree with them or not! And thank you to James Ehnes for courageously explaining the situation, and doing so under his own name. That has great value and I think we all appreciate it.

Disagreeing is not the same as disrespecting. We need to air our disagreements in order to move forward, and in this case I felt that the stakes were extremely high. It was a very controversial outcome, and it deserved a conversation, not a shove under the rug. I hope we all keep talking and keep striving to improve how we cultivate, celebrate and promote the most talented and hardworking among our young artists.

July 6, 2015 at 01:40 AM · I didn't infer any disrespect for Ehnes here. Folks on this site disagree fervently all the time. Just type "shoulder rest" into the search box if you don't believe me.

July 6, 2015 at 07:37 AM · This was an impeccable jury. If they could not choose a gold medal winner, who are we to argue?

July 6, 2015 at 01:06 PM · It seems to me unfair that a candidate be denied a gold medal simply because the standard of the competition denies them a super majority, whereas had the overall standard been lower and the leader's the same they would have got gold. Such a voting system is not the product of a good mathematician - Perhaps the mathematician in question should have been respelled MacBane?

Where a leader fails to get a super majority, and perhaps in any case, there should be a separate vote as to whether they are gold level standard. Surely it is not too much to ask of a jury that in addition to placing each candidate, they also decide which level of medal each candidate would be worthy of were they the leader?

July 10, 2015 at 04:51 AM · In an interview with Finnish press at the Mikkeli Music Festival immediately after the gala concerts of this year's Tchaikovsky competition, Maestro Gergiev explaind why there's no gold for violin this year:

Basically jury members all have their own favorites--it's like 1/3 of the juries in favor of one or two candidates, 1/3 of the juries in favor of another one or two candidates, and the other 1/3 in favor of yet another one or two candidates. So, they could not even reach a simple majority on who should win the gold, let alone the super majority as the rule mandates.

http://www.hs.fi/hstv/uutiset/v1436320672571?jako=6a68d96da361459a8e751047e8fc3fd9&ref

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