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Laurie Niles

Clara-Jumi Kang wins the Eighth International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

September 26, 2010 at 3:32 AM

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.

Benjamin Beilman
Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.

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.

Haoming Xie
Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.

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.

Soyoung Lee
Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.

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.

Zach De Pue

Then, of course, came the announcement of the winners and I will list their awards:

1. Clara-Jumi Kang: $30,000, a gold-mounted Tourte-Voirin model Berg bow valued at $8,000 and the four-year use of the 1683 "ex-Gingold" Stradivari violin and Tourte bow
2. Soyoung Yoon: $15,000
3. Benjamin Beilman: $10,000
4. Haoming Xie: $7,000
5. Antal Szalai: $6,000
6. Andrey Baranov: $5,000

Clara-Jumi Kang
Clara-Jumi Kang performing in the finals on Friday evening. Photo by Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.

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 ($1,000): Benjamin Beilman 
Best Three Performances of the Paganini Caprices ($1,000, $750, $500): Jiajeng Chen, Soyoung Yoon and Clara-Jumi Kang
Best Performance of an Encore Work ($1,000): Soyoung Yoon
Best Performance of a Mozart Sonata ($1,000): Ben Beilman
Best Performance of a Beethoven Sonata ($1,000 each for violinist and pianist): Clara-Jumi Kang and pianist Akira Eguchi
Best Performance of Joan Tower's “String Force” ($1,000): Clara-Jumi Kang
Best Performance of an Ysaÿe Sonata ($1,000): Haoming Xie
Best Performance of a Sonata other than Beethoven ($1,500): Haoming Xie
Best Performance of a Classical Concerto ($2,500): Clara-Jumi Kang
Best Performance of a Romantic Concerto ($5,000): Clara-Jumi Kang

On Sunday, I also interviewed Gold Medalist Clara-Jumi Kang - look for my interview here on later this week.

From Terri Bora
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 3:38 AM

 All are superior musicians. I'll admit, however, that after hearing Kang's Mozart  I was really rooting for her.  She then followed it up with an amazing Beethoven. Congrats to all of them! 

From Adam korczynski
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Kang did an amazing job on the Beethoven, it really takes guts to play such concert in the finals. I think it was a very good group of finalists, each with character and style.

Anyways congrats to Kang!


From Marc Villeneuve
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 11:45 AM

All were wonderful in this very challenging competition ... a though one.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Emily our predictions were good (lol...)   I thought it would be really nice at = talent of course to have a female 1st price winner!  Congratulations and yes, her playing was really solid and doing the Beethoven in finals was no small challenge... I'm very happy for her!  She did this competition with stability despite all the pression on her... that's something...


From Royce Faina
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Much deserved! Congrats to all who qualified for this competition! What a Rush!!!!

From Patrick Hu
Posted on September 26, 2010 at 9:17 PM

Not only is she an outstanding musician, but she's also the warmest, kindest, and most humble person!  Such a great person to be around!  Congrats!

This year's competition was great!  I really liked the diversity of the players and their playing styles...and the online viewing content was great!  Overall, an outstanding competition!

p.s. I hope Laurie asked her why she had tears at the end of her Beethoven...


From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 27, 2010 at 5:57 AM

 I did, and you will love her answer. On Tuesday! ;) (I have to fly home!)

Posted on September 27, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Congrats to all!!!

From Jim Fellows
Posted on September 27, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Any specifics regarding the modern violins?

From Robert Niles
Posted on September 27, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Laurie's in the air today, but I know that she's putting together a piece on the modern makers and instruments at the IVCI, which will run on later this week.

From Reynard Hilman
Posted on September 28, 2010 at 4:56 AM

It was good to see you in person Laurie! :)

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on September 28, 2010 at 8:33 AM

A worthy winner!   I've really enjoyed reading Laurie's reports from this competition, certainly appears to be one of the toughest challenges  for violinists out there competition-wise, and it is nice to see that all the finalists get very decent financial rewards for their hard work and commitment. 

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 28, 2010 at 6:22 PM

 Great to see you, too, Reynard, and all the other V.commies I saw at the IVCI!

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