The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles and Violinist.com members file news from the quadrennial international violin competition in Indianapolis, Indiana.
September 28, 2010 18:31
You may have noticed, if you were watching, that gold medal laureate Clara-Jumi Kang appeared to be tears Friday night after her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto at the 2010 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Finals.
Actually, the real tears came the day before.
"I cried for 40 minutes the day before I played the Beethoven," she said. For the competition, Clara-Jumi played on a 1774 Guadagnini from Turin, on loan from the Kumho Foundation in Korea. The fiddle was not always an easy partner, especially for the Beethoven Violin Concerto. (Listen to her Final round here.)
The Guad has a very bright sound, and "sometimes it has a personality I can't control." By contrast, her normal violin has a darker sound. "I was used to that phrasing" that comes out of a darker violin, and "somehow nothing seemed to work."
Clara-Jumi, 23, has perfect pitch, and she was accustomed to a 443-hertz "A" in Korea, or a 444 in Europe. The Indianapolis Symphony used a 440 "A" – much lower. "I was used to the higher sound," she said. Putting all those things together, everything felt out of her control.
But then she came to a profound realization: "I found myself thinking that Beethoven is much too great for me to control it," Clara-Jumi said. "It's from above this earth, and I should just play it, just worship it as something from above. That is what I focused on all evening."
"I was so into the music," she said of her performance of the Beethoven at the Finals. "I am blessed to have played the Beethoven with orchestra eight times – nobody wants to play the Beethoven with you when you are 23.
"(On Friday) I was playing it like I was worshipping it – that's why, after the performance, I had tears running," she said. They came from her deep emotion for the Beethoven and from her sadness at the piece coming to an end, the competition coming to an end. "It wasn't because I was upset or because I didn't like my playing.
Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.
"I love Beethoven too much," Clara-Jumi said. "If this concerto didn't exist, maybe I wouldn't love the violin as much..."Read more...
September 25, 2010 20:32
On Saturday the 2010 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis concluded its final round of competition, with performances of the Sibelius Concerto by Benjamin Beilman, 20, of the United States; of the Tchaikovsky by Haoming Xie, 20, of China; and of the Sibelius Concerto (yes, two in one night) by Soyoung Yoon, 25, of South Korea.
(On Friday, the other three finalists performed: Andrey Baranov, 24, of Russia, played the Tchaikovsky; Antal Szalai, 29, of Hungary performed the Bartók Concerto No. 2 for Violin; and Clara-Jumi Kang, 23, of Germany/South Korea performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto.)
Saturday's performances commenced with Benjamin Beilman, who began with a good icy, still tone in the Sibelius (this Finnish gem is always best, served on ice). But though many things seemed poised to go right, a number of technical details simply went wrong with intonation in octave passages. Beilman seemed to have an off night. When it came to the orchestra, Sibelius can be rhythmically complex and ambiguous, and the lack of precision made for a muddy effect during orchestral tuttis.
Haoming Xie played the Tchaikovsky Concerto, using a combination of ideas from the Auer and Tchaikovsky editions. A few things parted ways with the score, such as the runs in both the exposition and recapitulation, which were mis-counted (kudos to the orchestra for following) and part of the cadenza was missing. The last movement was extremely fast, and Xie had the technical ability to make that happen, though it was fast for the orchestra.
Soyoung Lee wore a gold dress for her appearance this last night (go for the gold!). Her Sibelius was spellbinding, and she nailed all the very difficult technical passages. She made perfect octave runs, even chromatic ones, look easy. The orchestra seemed a bit more attuned to the details for this Sibelius, save a conspicuous missed entrance by the flute.
At the end of the evening, while the jury was deliberating. Indianapolis Symphony Concertmaster Zach De Pue led a blind "taste" test, with help from master of ceremonies Steve Shipps. He played four pairs of violins, allowing the audience to decide which they liked best of each pair, based on playing excerpts from “Scheherazade" and Strauss' Don Juan. Each pair included one old and one modern violin. The votes were very close each time, but ultimately the audience chose one modern violin and three Strads, from the years 1699, 1714 and 1715. Several more tests and votes narrowed the fiddles to the one the audience liked best: Jimmy Lin's 1715 Strad.
Then, of course, came the announcement of the winners:
1. Clara-Jumi Kang
Sunday Update: In addition to presenting the laureates with their medals Sunday evening, the jury also presented some special awards:
Best Performance of a Bach Work: Benjamin Beilman
On Sunday, I also interviewed Gold Medalist Clara-Jumi Kang - look for my interview here on Violinist.com later this week.Read more...
September 25, 2010 09:56
On Friday evening the show moved into Indianapolis's Hilbert Circle Theatre for the finals of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
Just to set the scene for you, here is Indianapolis's Monument Circle:
And here is the Hilbert Circle Theatre, right on that circle. Beautiful outside and in!
On Friday we heard performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto by Andrey Baranov, 24, of Russia; the Bartók Concerto No. 2 for Violin by Antal Szalai, 29, of Hungary; and the Beethoven Violin Concerto by Clara-Jumi Kang , 23, of Germany/South Korea.
After hearing quite a lot of Mozart over the last few nights, I enjoyed the chance to hear three very different concertos, all in one night.
Andrey Baranov gave himself no breaks in the physically exhausting first movement of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. The movement basically goes: big, long, technically demanding exposition...cadenza...mirror-image big, long, technically demanding recapitulationRead more...
September 24, 2010 13:50
What does the jury really talk about during a competition? Are there too many competitions? How do the judges decide? These are a few of the questions that various panels have been exploring each night before each round of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
On Wednesday night, Heather Kurzbauer of Amsterdam, who has covered many competitions over the years for The Strad magazine and who has also served on the critics jury for the Hannover International Violin Competition in 2009, spoke about the difference between American competitions and others around the globe, about judging competitions and about their value. She was joined IVCI Executive Director Glen Kwok.
What is the value of a competition? Does it really help launch careers?
"It depends, but certainly many careers have been launched by competitions," Heather said. "I think competitions are helpful to launching careers if one thinks about them in the right way."Read more...
September 24, 2010 09:57
The Classical Concerto Finals continued for a second night on Thursday at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, with the last three of the six finalists, Benjamin Beilman, Haoming Xie and Soyoung Yoon.
A colleague compared these classical finals to a beauty pageant's “bathing suit round” – indeed, performing Mozart and Haydn strips a person's playing down to the essential elements of intonation, clean articulation and the ability to create a musical line. No place to hide!
Benjamin Beilman, 20, of the United States, walked onto the stage with the contented demeanor of someone who is enjoying himself. His playing also reflected this comforting assurance – certainly the ability to put an audience at ease is an important asset to a solo violinist. Of the six finalists, only Beilman chose to play Haydn and not Mozart for this round, with the Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major. In the midst of so much Mozart, it felt like a treat, the harpsichord in the orchestra being the cherry on top. In fact, tonight the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra seemed like a whole new band, with stand-out playing by the oboist and overall better ensemble than last night.
The concerto began with Beilman playing the tutti with the orchestra, with which he had excellent rapport throughout the piece.Read more...
September 23, 2010 08:09
It was an all-Mozart evening Wednesday at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, with three of the six finalists playing in the Classical Concerto Finals.
I was not here for the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the competition last week, so this was my first time hearing violinists Andrey Baranov, 24, of Russia; Antal Szalai, 29, of Hungary; and Clara-Jumi Kang, 23, of Germany and South Korea.
They did not disappoint. I now see the reason for all the buzz I've been hearing about the “high level” of this particular pool of contestants. About 270 people came to hear the concert, held in the the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center.
Each violinist was accompanied by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, with guest conductor Samuel Wong. Unfortunately the orchestra was plagued with faulty horn entrances and timid string playing, which contrasted rather conspicuously with the degree of polish and shine each soloist brought to the endeavor.
Whether the orchestra or solo part, Mozart is revealing and unforgiving. Every entrance must hit the target dead-on; every last bit of intonation must be pristine. Call it the high-definition television of classical music: every little flaw will show.Read more...
September 22, 2010 06:40
I'll just say it: they picked a true winner in 2006 when the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis awarded Augustin Hadelich the gold medal.
On Tuesday evening violinist Augustin Hadelich, collaborating with pianist Rohan De Silva, performed a recital in Indianapolis for those gathered for this year's International Violin Competition, which has entered its final week. The program included Beethoven's violin sonata No. 8 (Op. 30 No. 3); Schnittke Sonata 1; Ysaÿe solo Sonata No. 4; the Poulenc Sonata and Zigeunerweisen.
Certainly I'm speaking of Hadelich's playing as “winning” – so well-calibrated, engaging and clean. But I'm also speaking of his four-year commitment to the immense work required of being violin soloist and taking advantage of the opportunity given him by that gold medal, as evidenced by the long and growing list of orchestras with whom he has performed, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and way more; as evidenced by his release of two CDs in that time.
Tuesday I noticed something else, Hadelich's engagement with his audience, which I believe has also grown steadily since I first heard him play in 2006. I started noticing it in the middle of the Beethoven: He plays with a generosity toward his audience, demonstrative and communicative. Serving the music, and serving it to the audience.
Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.
Tuesday evening Hadelich was performing with his new violin, having relinquished the “ex-Gingold” Stradivarius for the competition's 2010 winner, which will be decided over the next four days. (You can see and hear the action here, it's being live-streamed from the IVCI website andperformances are immediately archived.) Now Hadelich is playing the 1723 “ex-Keisewetter” Stradivari, on loan to him from Clement and Karen Arrison, through the Stradivari Society. At times I wished the violin were a bit louder, though I'm not sure if the acoustics of the Ruth Lilly Hall in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center at the University of Indianapolis were a factor, or perhaps the fact that he's had just six weeks to adjust to a new fiddle...Read more...
September 20, 2010 21:45
Congratulations to the six finalists in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis!
Andrey Baranov, 24, of Russia
The two-part finals begin Wednesday. Three finalists each night will play with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in the first round, and again on Friday and Saturday evenings for the second round.
I will be in Indianapolis for the finals and writing about the event here on Violinist.com. You can watch the events live online at the competition's website, http://www.violin.org.Read more...
September 15, 2010 21:05
Congratulations to the semi-finalists in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis!
I will be there as of Tuesday to bring you more about the last week of the competition. Can't wait!Read more...
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