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 Noga Quartet talk us through their 2015 experience:
"First of all, the musical challenge of this competition was exciting. We liked the idea that you play two rounds, which means you can show more of yourself and enjoy the stage and the audience a little longer.
The program was more open compared to other competitions which makes you feel "free" as a musician, free to choose what fits you.
And the trip was really attractive! A trip to Australia is quite an experience.
I guess we all wanted to see some wombats!
I think the first memory we have when we think about the competition is when we landed at about 7am after two days of travel....It was rainy (We left the summer for the winter...) and cold! It was a long day.
A few days after our arrival we gave our very first masterclass in a high school. A young quartet played the Ravel quartet. After this experience, we realised how tough it is to coach musicians, but also how fun it was to share our thoughts and tricks.
Of course, one thing we will never forget about this summer, is our host family. Three wonderful people, who made us feel at home in Melbourne and feel confident while playing on stage. They became what we call our Australian Family and we found out how important it was and it is, to have such human being around you, supporting you, taking care of you and trusting you. They are one the reasons why we felt we could make it!
They organised an insightful tour of indigenous arts for us at the Ian Potter gallery with a special guide! We learned so much about this part of the Australian culture.
We remember, the day of the announcement for the final round was the birthday of Joan (the Cellist). Our host family brought us to the zoo just before. It was a lovely way of enjoying a day and being relaxed. And we saw wombats, Kangaroos...inspiring for the Bartok we played in the final round!
Then the competition starts. What an atmosphere there! Something you can't forget! At 10am, a full house. We started with Mozart Dissonances followed by Ligeti Quartet No. 1. It was so much fun to share this intense music with such an audience.
Second round was a bit more stressful...probably because we expected too much!
Something else that made this competition very special was the place where we lived. All contents together, having breakfast together, with the staff always around, ready to help at any time. It was like a big family.
But, how can we forget the moment when the jurors said "Final round: Verona Quartet, Giocoso Quartet and Noga Quartet", and then, after the final round, when they announced the results in a big, beautiful hall!! Avishai did a great speech!
The most memorable moment we had was was when we walked from the stage door to our seats on stage in this incredible big and new recital hall, with Bartok String quartet No. 5 in mind. This powerful and intense music added to the atmosphere of the hall, the final round of the competition made this experience something really unforgettable!
This experience, this competition, gave us self confidence and recognition within our profession.
As we are all orchestra musicians in Berlin, it showed to all of those who were skeptical about our choice to manage both quartet and orchestra careers, that with love and commitment, everything is possible.
Our goal is to share the music we love!