LVIV, UKRAINE ― The Violin Channel recently caught up with 26 year old Korean-American violinist Elly Suh – who last week was awarded 1st prize at the 2016 Oleh Krysa International Violin Competition, in Lviv, Ukraine.
In a VC-exclusive blog, Elly talks us through her experience at this year’s competition – and how her expectations and processes have evolved throughout her career.
“Last week I received the great honor of being chosen as the first prize winner of the Oleh Krysa International Violin Competition in Lviv, Ukraine. My immediate reaction was to feel deeply grateful and a little surprised because I was not expecting to win. My experience playing in competitions has changed the way that I view the results. I have participated in many international competitions over the years, and at the first few, I thought a lot about things out of my control, like the jury and the other participants. On stage I felt very aware of being judged and compared, which made me feel extremely nervous and unnatural. And of course, I wanted to win.
After several competitions, I began to realize that results were completely out of my control and based on the opinions of a few people. What I could control, however, is how I prepared and whether I chose to learn from each experience, whether positive or negative. This mindset helped me find peace with myself in any outcome, because I knew that I had prepared with my all and that I would grow and evolve because of what I learned from that competition. Once I stopped allowing the pressure to win to affect me, I found that I could only be thankful if the jury decides to award me any prize at all, and not take it too personally if it doesn’t.
With each competition, I slowly started to enjoy the whole preparation process and the progress I saw in myself. Of course, I could not have made all of this progress on my own. I have been very fortunate to study with many great teachers who have inspired, supported, and helped me in so many ways. I am especially grateful to my current teacher Professor Pierre Amoyal who has been immeasurably helpful in every aspect of my development, always encouraging his students to conceive our own personal interpretations through thoughtful research and creative imagination.
From the first day of preparation until the last day of the competition, I have come to appreciate it as a special time for me to immerse myself in the long list of required repertoire and live with these pieces and composers for a few weeks or months. For that period of time (which never feels long enough), I focus in a different way, pushing myself every day to be better than my current best. Now I can be a little more relaxed and try to enjoy myself at competitions because I don’t care about being better than anyone or about impressing the jury, but try to forget that I am at a competition and just feel glad to get to share the music and the culmination of all my hard work with everyone listening.
Last week in Lviv I felt very privileged to share so much great music with the wonderful, attentive audience there, and receiving the first prize was a special honor. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities the Oleh Krysa Competition has given me and look forward to what the future will bring.
ELLY SUH | BRAHMS VIOLIN CONCERTO | 3RD MVT | 2016 OLEH KRYSA INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN COMPETITION | 1ST PRIZE