Notes from Canada: 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition -- Violin Finalists Announced

May 13, 2013, 3:40 PM · MONTREAL -- Here I am in Montreal, where the Montreal International Musical Competition, which features the violin this year, has been in progress since May 7.

The annual competition rotates between voice, violin and piano -- this year it's all about the violin. Judges, which include Vladimir Landsman of Canada; Mark Kaplan of the U.S.; Andre Bourbeau of Canada; Rodney Friend of the U.K.; Michael Frischenschlager of Austria; Yuzuko Horigome of Japan; Regis Pasquier of France and Barry Shiffman of Canada, have narrowed 24 competitors from 14 countries down to six finalists.

2013 Montreal Finalists

The finalists (left to right) are: Zeyu Victor Li, 16, of China; Ji Young Lim, 18, of South Korea; Stephen Waarts, 16, of the United States; Marc Bouchkov, 22 of Belgium; Chi Li, 19, of Taiwan; and Fédor Roudine, 20, of France. They are competing for prizes valued at CA$130,000, including $30,000 for first prize; $15,000 for second and $10,000 for third.

If you'd like to hear performances from the semi-finals, they are all on the CBC Music website. (For example, I've been listening to American finalists Stephen Waarts' Ravel Sonata for the last 20 minutes and it's totally thrilling.) Here also is more coverage,, with a nice introductory video which is in French.

Tonight I will attend the "Concert Prestige," a performance that will feature violinist Maxim Vengerov playing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with cellist Stéphane Tétreault and pianist Serhiy Salov, with Orchestre de chambre I Musici de Montréal. That concert benefits the Montreal International Musical Competition Foundation. Vengerov also will conduct the Finals and Gala concerts later this week, with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal.

I'll be reporting back from all those concerts! Meanwhile, I've been getting to know Montreal, this beautiful, French-speaking city in Canada that some how I'd never before visited! I explored a bit of Old Montreal today and got my California blood going with some actual cold weather! Here are some pictures:

First, I definitely can see what people mean, when they describe the Old World charm of Montreal. For example, the cobblestone streets I found next to the Bonsecours Market:

Bonsecours Market

And horse-drawn carriages:

Old meets new

I also like the Build-a-Bear (or in French, Univers Toutou) right next to this grand church.

Big ol' church + build-a-bear

On my way back from Old Montreal to the hotel, I popped in to Steve's Music Store, which is really more of a guitar store than anything else. Nonetheless, I caught this father, Jonathan, outfitting his four-year-old girl, Tea, with her first violin. He said he comes from the Magdelen Islands, where a very high percentage of the population plays fiddle -- kind of a Celtic/French folk/bluegrass mix. Nice! And maybe Tea is the world's newest violinist, eh?

My new friend Tea


May 13, 2013 at 08:55 PM · Hi Laurie,

Nice to see you in Montréal! While there, I would recommend two of my favourite places for food and coffee. One is called Juliette et Chocolat on rue St-Denis and specializes in high-end chocolates (if you like chocolate). It is a unique place and I have never seen anything like anywhere else in the world. The single estates served as drinks are OUT of this world! Also, there is a spectacular place for coffee on Avenue du Parc near Sherbrooke Street called Le Café Pikolo, which according to many of us affecionados serves the best espresso in Montréal, possibly in Canada... Tiny place, but truly awesome!

Cheers and have a great time!

May 13, 2013 at 10:29 PM · Hi Laurie, Glad that you like Montreal! I live very close to this city and just love that musical contest! Never much Canadian players winning the first prizes though... But you know, I imagine it's the same in many Countries. Nevertheless, the goal is to participate and that everyone does with everything they have :)

The old Montreal is very beautiful and (if you have time), you would love Quebec City which is like the old Montral but bigger. Very "European" in style.

Best of luck in your competition following and reports!


Christian, I have to agree about Juliette et Chocolat! There are actually a few Juliette et Chocolat in Montreal. Première Moisson (Atwater Market) and Pâtisserie de Gascogne (Laurier Street) are also wonderful.

May 14, 2013 at 01:11 AM · "If" I like chocolate? !!! I love chocolate! And coffee! Now I'm on a mission to find these places.....

May 14, 2013 at 03:32 AM · Ever since I have heard Stephen Waarts' Poeme by Chausson, I am in love with his tone. Such maturity and sensibility in the age of 16... it's nuts.

May 14, 2013 at 08:11 AM · Montréal is the home of the Quatuor Molinari, advocates of "modern" music for String Quartet and hosts of what I understand to be an international composition competition for their medium.

It seems they are holding a celebratory concert this very Friday.

Will Laurie attend, I wonder ??

May 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Hi Laurie,

Glad to hear that! I will PM you the info about those places.


May 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM · Welcome to Montreal Laurie! Unfortunately between work & my music schedule I won't be able to catch any of the competition this time around... as it happens one of my recent concerts was in the church behind you in your 1st picture.

I definitely 2nd the recommendation to get to Juliette et Chocolat, they now have 3 locations, my fave is the the one in the most posh location, Laurier Ave & my go-to dish there is the Belle-Helene crepe. There's also the Olive & Gourmando patisserie close to the Marche Bonsecours.

Gascogne & Premiere Moisson are both chains, so that ups your chances of finding one. Get to the Jean-Talon & Atwater markets if you can. Hard-Core Foodie Heaven.

ps- this is the best resource for musical happenings around Montreal:

La Scena


May 14, 2013 at 12:18 PM · The violin looks a little big for the girl. Maybe the photo is at the wrong angle though.

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