The gender balance is tipped heavily toward females among violinists selected to participate in the 2016 Menuhin Competition, set to take place April 7 through 17 at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Of the 44 competitors selected to participate, 36 are girls -- that is, 82 percent -- and eight are boys, the competition announced last week. (See the full list here.) The competition reported last fall that 66 percent of the 307 applicants for 2016 were female. The competition has two divisions, Seniors (ages 16-21) and Juniors (under 16). The imbalance is most extreme in Senior Division, where only one young man was selected to participate among 22 competitors. In the Junior Division, seven boys and 15 girls were chosen to compete. Participants are invited to stay in London with host families for the duration of the competition.
The imbalance raises some questions: Are music programs around the world doing a better job of training female violinists than male? Or did the Menuhin Competition simply fail to attract the high-level male violinists this time? The last Menuhin Competition was held in Austin, Texas in 2014. In that competition, eight of the prizewinners were boys, and two were girls.
The 2016 competitors represent 17 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Russia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Turkey, Taiwan, China, Austria, Canada and France. There are nine competitors from the U.S., including Olivia Chen, 13; Elli Choi, 14; Marley Erickson, 12; Yesong Sophie Lee, 12; Kevin Miura, 13; Takumi Taguchi, 14; Qing Yu Chen, 15; Ariel Horowitz, 19; and Kelly Talim, 20. The youngest competitor is Samuel Tan, 10, of Singapore. There are also three British competitors this year to represent the host country: Louisa Staples, 15; Juliette Roos, 20; and Mathilde Milwidsky, 21.
Jury members for the 2016 competition are Pamela Frank (chair), Joji Hattori, Ray Chen, Martin Engstroem, Ning Feng, Don-Suk Kang, Tasmin Little, Julia Fischer and Jeremy Menuhin.
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