With the 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition currently entering its final stages in Melbourne, Australia, VC recently caught up with a number of former prize winners, to get a better understanding of their time at the competition – and the opportunities the quadrennial event has since presented.
In a VC-exclusive guest blog, former Grand Prize winners, the Aviv Quartet talk us through their 1999 experience:
In 1997, during the London String Quartet competition, which didn’t go so well for my group, named “Johannes Quartet” , a woman came to me, and gave me the brochure of 1999 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. It was Lynn Bender, President of the competition.
Many things changed quickly after the London competition, the group changed 2 members, and their name.
In 1998, we named ourselves Aviv, meaning ‘spring’ in Hebrew, a signifier of new beginnings and the season of birth and fresh thinking.
I kept mentally preparing for the Melbourne Competition, we took the audition in Paris, played Debussy and Brahms Op.51 No. 1. It was my first ever trip to Paris and it was a success!!
We got invited to Australia! Needless to say, that we got over excited, it was our first year studying with the members of the Alban Berg Quartet in Cologne, which was a great and enriching experience.
We prepared very hard, we went to Provence to run through the program in two concerts of the Luberon Festival.
Upon arriving to Melbourne – every little detail was thought through – we had a few days to get used to the time difference, 5 days later we had to perform our first round – which was a full recital with a break. Debussy, Haydn Op.76 No. 1- and Brahms Op.51 No. 1.
The level was great, also in the Trio division, the hall was full, and despite the stress – we gave a good recital.
For the semi-finals, we put our « strong card » , Shostakovich’s 9th quartet, and it was obligatory to play Quartet No. 15 by Peter Schulphorpe.
But… everyone had put their « strong cards » – Szymanowski Quartet played the amazing Lyric Suite by Berg, and Pacifica Quartet – Bartok 5.
We anxiously waited to hear the results, and … got through , along side with the Szymanowski Quartet and Avalon Quartet!
For the final – we prepared Schubert’s Death and the Maiden – D.810, which after Melbourne Success, became our « business card » piece, which we have played more than 300 times since…
I remember the results announcement – we were all on stage – all the participants, and they had announced Avalon as 3rd, and our cellist Iris Jortner – said – great, we did it!- second to us.
But then… 2nd went to Szymanowski quartet – and that left us to get first. What a feeling!!! It has happened once in our lives!! At that time, I didn’t understand the procedures, but the main prize was to win a Dymler Chrisler Grand prix- tour with 8 concerts around Australia and Tasmania, and debut concerts in Auditorium du Louvre, Wigmore Hall, Dubrovnik Festival, and a Photo session with one of the best photographers in Sydney, and this all went to us.
The competition was our biggest International competition success, and has opened many doors for us. The concerts across Australia were so great, we got fantastic reviews, but sadly enough – we never got to play in Australia again. But, maybe, one day…