Indianapolis Competition Love

Edited: September 18, 2022, 3:17 PM · I don't know who has been following the Indianapolis Violin Competition, or as we call it, The Indy 39. I've been slowly making my way through the preliminary round, and I just listened to such an amazing performance of Mozart that I wanted to share it.

I don't think I can embed the videos in this case, but I highly recommend you listen to KayCee Galano's preliminary round performance, specifically for her playing of a Mozart Sonata; she plays with a really beautiful sound, but the phrasing and nuance throughout are next level.

If you are following, are there any performances you've heard so far that blew you away?

Replies (34)

September 18, 2022, 4:13 PM · That's not Mozart (assuming you're talking about the work that opens her semi-final). It's Beethoven No. 8 (op. 30 no. 3), which is not especially Mozartian in its character. :-)
Edited: September 18, 2022, 5:15 PM · Lydia, I mean Mozart K301 in the preliminary round, not the current round. I haven't made it out of the prelims yet. I am looking forward to hearing the Beethoven!
Edited: September 18, 2022, 9:28 PM · Another fine student of Kurt Sassmannshaus. I found her Mozart K301 about half-way through her preliminary-round video (look under "Monday September 12" in the site that Christian linked). Nice playing. My teacher would probably advise her not to waste so much energy bending and moving her body around, but I suppose that is the shtick of modern violin performance. I enjoyed the following piece, the Tchaikovsky Melodie very much; nice replacement-shift slides (36:57 and 37:07). Glad to see such an "easy" piece (defined by me being able to play it tolerably) performed in a top-level competition. Jansen uses it as an encore.

Was "love" in your thread title a Freudian slip? "Live"?

September 18, 2022, 10:05 PM · (I wanted to spread some) Indianapolis Competition Love, I suppose. I wasn't watching the screen, so I missed out on the dance portion, but I guess if it works for the violinist, then maybe it's a part of her whole process.

I was kind of bummed that the violinist I had high hopes for coming in seemed to have an off-day, and didn't make it to the semi-final round, but I'm liking this competition so far. The level is so absurdly high, that I was still shocked at how Galano's playing so far has stood out from the competition.

September 19, 2022, 3:58 AM · not only Mozart's sonata.all she plays is fantastic. top player interpretation ,musically and tecnically
Edited: September 19, 2022, 7:49 AM · Not so taken with her Beethoven. It seems a bit mechanical ...

Just looked at one other Semi - I liked Nathan Meltzer better.
[And I don't mind the dancing, as long as it does not detract from the playing...

September 19, 2022, 8:09 AM · We've been enjoying watching it quite a bit. There are 5 recent grads from my son's precollege program in it (all 4-6 years after finishing the program), including two who made semis. Besides them, I'm also rooting for Nathan Meltzer (the sweater!) and Sirena Huang. My son pretty much grew up watching Nathan's videos, as they did basically the same rep at the same age, almost all the way through. Plus, my son will likely enter this competition the next time around, so it is really interesting to watch it from that perspective.
Edited: September 20, 2022, 9:47 AM · I'm listening to Meltzer right now. I guess this is Beethoven? Well, it's a sonata so one expects the piano part to be on an equal footing with the violin (etc. etc. and all that), so I'm not offended but this is a violin competition, so I can see where Frieda is coming from. Still, the composers have to take some of the blame for this issue. Writing for a two-pound instrument being accompanied by a 800-pound instrument can't be easy. I can't see mic placement changing between performers. I'm enjoying this violinist, he's a fine musician. I didn't see which video had him wearing a sweater but that would be very retro. I wish the videos included a text overlay saying what the pieces are. I don't think that would take too much additional effort.

Probably just my hearing but KayCee Galano always sounds to me just the tiniest bit sharp relative to the piano. Meltzer does not. Anyone else notice this?

September 19, 2022, 1:02 PM · @ Paul, maybe the pianos of Beethoven's day weren't quite so loud/dominant?
September 19, 2022, 2:38 PM · on the competition website, where can we see the current standings of the competition, i.e., in which round are we, who progressed to the next round, etc? I don't seem to be able to find any of this kind of information.
Edited: September 19, 2022, 3:47 PM · Paul, he wasn't wearing a sweater, he sweats a lot while playing! LOL

Jean, it was just a press release.

This page is also helpful as it lists the order.

September 19, 2022, 3:50 PM · It also is announced on Facebook:
September 20, 2022, 6:44 AM · Finalists announced:
Joshua Brown (United States)
Julian Rhee (United States)
Minami Yoshida (Japan)
Claire Wells (United States)
SooBeen Lee (South Korea)
Sirena Huang (United States)
September 20, 2022, 9:48 AM · USA! USA! USA!
Edited: September 20, 2022, 3:27 PM · Spicy results! I'm trying to catch up as fast as I can, but now I haven't even started The Empire Strikes Back and I already know Darth Vader is Luke's father.
September 20, 2022, 10:59 AM · Luke's father . . . couldn't have said it better myself.
September 20, 2022, 11:43 AM · Katie that's true but even when I listen to pro recordings or recitals of Beethoven violin sonatas the piano is quite strong. I wonder if the violins of Beethoven's time were as powerful too. The antiques of that time have mostly undergone structural overhauls and are fitted with better strings than would have been available then.
September 20, 2022, 12:50 PM · Paul wrote:
"Probably just my hearing but KayCee Galano always sounds to me just the tiniest bit sharp relative to the piano."

That is my impression too. Maybe it's deliberate, intended to add more drama to the performance, or to help listeners better differentiate between the piano and violin parts?

Edited: September 20, 2022, 4:37 PM · Maybe the pianist was playing out of tune?

BTW, I never noticed this before, but everyone that plays the Bach Grave seems to do something weird on the 3rd beat of the penultimate measure, as if that double stop were like a small cadenza, and they all thought, "finally, my time to shine!".

It's rarely played straight, and often with a trill, but sometimes it's almost done with a semi-ricochet bowing or an ongoing portato. Menuhin and Grumiaux seem to play it with a trill, and Hadelich seems to play it with some kind of turn and trill, and my Szeryng edition notates it straight.

I'm not like offended, but I just noticed this quirky affectation. Does anyone have any light to shed on all the different possible ways to play this one doublestop?

Edited: September 20, 2022, 11:19 PM · Christian, in the manuscript there is a wavy line above the third quarter of that measure; in the my Bärenreiter edition it is below the notes. As far as I know, nobody knows what Bach meant by it. So everyone interprets it in her or his own way.
September 20, 2022, 11:55 PM · My daughter's piano teacher would say, at the end of the day, you have to give the best performance you can give with the instrument you are playing on.

I find it so unprofessional when the pianist overwhelms the violinist, especially when they are there to accompany/support the violinist. I wonder if they realize people notice these things and will not hire them when they need a pianist.

Too bad Nathan M didn't make it to the finals. I feel like I've watched him grow up on YouTube.

September 21, 2022, 10:12 AM · Good to know, Bart! Maybe when I'm playing in the next Indianapolis Competition, I'll play it double harmonic pizz...

I'm finally in the 2nd stage, y'all! I hope you're rooting for me to have a good competition; it's really grueling listening to all this fine music-making.

Another standout for me in the prelim round was Sirena Huang, so I'm glad to see she's in the final. I was also kind of surprised that Maya Anjali Buchanan and Marie-Astrid Hulot didn't make it out of the prelim round; I thought they gave polished and thoughtful performances, but I guess that's a testament to the overall high level.

September 24, 2022, 9:15 PM · Indianapolis has been the first real competition I've followed closely. I'm just an ametuer player but let's see if my ears and opinions are even remotely close to the judges' (though I'm sure being hearing the performances in the hall is a completely different experience than watching the livestream)
Predictions before the announcement:
1) Julian Rhee
2) Sirena Huang
3) SooBeen Lee
4) Joshua Brown
5) Miyami Yoshida
6) Claire Wells

September 24, 2022, 9:31 PM · Anonymous Joe, I haven't watched all of tonight but based on earlier rounds my list is pretty similar.
September 25, 2022, 12:23 AM · The results are:

1) Sirena Huang
2) Julian Rhee
3) Miyami Yoshida
4) Claire Wells
5) SooBeen Lee
6) Joshua Brown

September 25, 2022, 7:55 AM · I remember my daughter being very inspired by Sirena Huang's TED talk from 15 years? when she was 11. Look it up on YouTube if you haven't seen it.
September 25, 2022, 8:27 AM · I posted this before going back and listening.
Still impressive, but illustrates how much the parental ear has changed over the years. Amazing presence and personality which carries through to the present.
September 25, 2022, 10:32 AM · First carbon viola I have seen in an orchestra (haven’t seen a carbon violin yet as well)
Edited: September 25, 2022, 6:16 PM · (I just realized I posted this after the classical round and not taking into account the actual final round). The results agree pretty well with my ears. Julian Rhee and Sirena Huang were pretty close.
Edited: September 26, 2022, 8:59 PM · OK, I made it all the way through.

I can see why Sirena Huang won - She was consistently good in all the rounds.

However, the true revelation of the whole competition was Joshua Brown's Bartok 2 concerto; it's a totally lyrical rendition, and really transparent on top of that. I thought it was better than most recordings I've heard, including my Hadelich cd that is collecting dust. He was solid in other rounds (but didn't stick out for me aside from his Mozart cadenzas), but on the strength of his final round, I would have given him first prize, or at least put him in the top 3. I'm going to keep an eye on this guy.

I thought Rhee's Mozart concerto was the strongest, but I found his Beethoven concerto to be the weakest of the finals. I really enjoyed Minami Yoshida's beautiful Sibelius and the intensity of Claire Wells' Shostakovich, which never tipped into beating the violin in up.

September 26, 2022, 9:39 PM · Sirena Huang's awesome TED talk from years ago:
September 26, 2022, 10:48 PM · Her Zigeunerweisen isn't as polished as I thought it'd be. It's actually nice to know that you don't have to be "perfect" at age 11 to succeed later in life. Same goes for James Ehnes. There is a video of him playing Zigeunerweisen around age 11-12 and it's good but it's not marvelous. He's definitely marvelous now.

September 27, 2022, 6:25 AM · Kiki, it's really interesting to watch old videos. Itzhak Perlman wasn't really that great as a kid. Joshua Bell sounds pretty awful up until about age 14. But there are some, like Hilary Hahn, who sound like full formed violinists at age 10. And others, like Sarah Chang, who were clear prodigies and never got beyond that in terms of musicality.
September 27, 2022, 7:39 AM · Yes, I found it encouraging to hear the problems and strengths at 11, yet see how far she has come. And as I said, how much my ability as a parent to hear has changed. I remember being amazed the first time I saw the TED talk. Still impressive....
Sending out a congratulations to Isabelle Durrenberger for making the semi-finals. My daughter started as her student at NEC prep this Fall. Beautiful playing!

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