Menuhin Competition in Beijing --The Senior Finalists

April 11, 2012, 7:46 AM · BEIJING -- Here are the Senior Finalists, and what they will play in the final round (click on their names and it will go to their performance videos from the competition):

1. Siyan Guo (China), 20 - Tchaikovsky violin concerto
2. Alexi Kenney (USA), 18 - Sibelius violin concerto in D minor
3. Ji Eun Anna Lee (Korea), 16 - Shostakovich violin concerto No 1 in A minor
4. Kenneth Arthur Renshaw (USA), 18 - Sibelius violin concerto in D minor

Here again is the live web stream, if you'd like to tune in and see some performances. Also, here is a cool page that allows you to choose individual contestants and to watch each of their completed performances, on demand:

The semi-final attracted so many audience members that the music hall was just not big enough for all of them. It must be tough for the jury to pick only four out of these outstanding semi-finalists. I thought Eunice Kim and Ke Zhu were both very strong, although Zhu at one point missed some notes due to the flying broken bow hair landed on the fingerboard. The sympathy in the audience was audible.

Here is Chinese violinist Ke Zhu playing Paganini Caprice 17:

Everyone I talked with loves Ji Eun Anna Lee. I’m not sure if you guys who have been watching the live-stream have noticed, but she had to wait for a few seconds before starting her second piece because someone in the audience sneaked in a toddler, who inevitably cried, so they had to be let out in middle of the concert. There are guards at the outside doors, and many volunteers (music students from the Central Conservatory of Music) at the inside doors to keep things in order, but there are just so many people coming in and out during each mini-break. It’s quite amazing that the whole thing has been running so smoothly.

Tomorrow will be a full-day masterclasses given by the jury, and then the jury will give a concert in the evening. My kind of day.

Here is American Alexi Kenney (one of the senior semi-finalists), playing the Gavotte and Rondo form Partita No. 3 in E by Bach:


April 11, 2012 at 04:49 PM · Tchaikovsky VC in d minor? Small typo, I think.

April 11, 2012 at 04:53 PM · I can't comment on the accompanists but I do think it is the responsibility of a competition to provide astoundingly good pianists that have the competition pieces easily in their repertoire and have performed them before. If an organization cannot afford such pianists then they shouldn't hold the competition or restrict the music to unaccompanied works.

My goodness -- those videos are nice. Both those young men are wonderful violinists, no?

April 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM · Fixed the Tchaik thing

April 11, 2012 at 09:52 PM · Cesar, I'm sure your questions is on many people's mind. I've noticed that there are more Chinese competitors in this years competition. My limited understanding how the selection works is it is based on merit rather than nationality or ethnicity.

April 12, 2012 at 01:44 AM · Hmm, I'm reminded of the days when they used to limit the number of Soviet chess players that could enter certain high-level tournaments. That was of course a complicated matter. But if droves of amazing Norwegian violinists were flooding the major competitions, would we be having this conversation? On the other hand the Olympic Games have rules that are designed to ensure broader participation.

April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM · It's funny Paul, I was thinking the same thing after I wrote my earlier answer, but then participation cannot be mandatory. I mean if the individuals from certain country don't apply or applied but do not reach the standards, then we don't see the name of the nation on the list of competitors. Selecting violin competitors is more like graduate school admission process in this sense.

April 13, 2012 at 04:11 AM · Thanks SY Chao! Would you be interested in doing the translation yourself? I'm sure it will be much appreciated by everyone. I'm having a short vacation in China and would do more if I can, but my schedule is really full here right now to the point that I'm stealing my sleep time to blog and communicate with my family and friends as much as I can.



April 13, 2012 at 09:55 PM · SY Chao, excellent translation and comments! I'm afraid it gets buried here and not getting much notice by people. I think you should post it at a separate blog if you want more people to read it.

I met and chatted with the author Xuyao at the competition, very nice guy. Will look for more of his work in future.

April 14, 2012 at 09:22 PM · Sad story! The list of finalists is always the biggest disappointment and surprise in every competition. You can listen to all but youll never understand what the jury thinks, because they have their own business running!!

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