With the 2018 Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition coming to a climax this week in Shanghai, China, The Violin Channel 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 event has since presented.
In a VC-exclusive guest blog, 2016 1st Prize winner, Mayu Kishima from Japan talks us through her experience:
"By 2014-2015, I had actually decided to stop doing competitions, however I reconsidered and decided to enter the 2016 inaugural Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition as my swan song to the competition world.
One of the reasons for this decision, I think, was because when I was 8 or 9 years old I had the opportunity to perform several masterclasses with Maestro Isaac Stern - and it left a very memorable impression on me.
I still remember them very clearly today.
As my very last competition, I'm thankful to say that I played near my best - something that I could not always say about many competitions I had participated in before this.
During the entire competition month, in Shanghai, I locked myself in my hotel and did not leave the room, at all, except to attend rehearsals and to perform on stage.
It was the first time in my life that I had 24 hours in a day just to myself, my violin and the music.
Being alone with my thoughts and with no internet connection, similar to my experience in the Chapelle during the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition final round, allowed me to think of so many more things ... to facilitate extremely deep thinking that's almost impossible in real life with all of today's distractions.
I can not describe the overwhelming feeling I experienced when I was announced as the 1st prize winner.
I was just so moved to have been awarded this in China ... it was a real sign to me that music has no borders.
Since the competition, I have been given a number of opportunities to perform in China and abroad - including an Australian debut with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra this coming November.
I can honestly say, the Shanghai Issac Stern International Violin Competition was the most intense month of my life.
It was not easy, but I can honestly say that it helped me grow enormously as a musician and as a person.
I am so grateful to have been given this life experience.