With the 2015 Jean Sibelius International Violin Competition entering its final stages in Helsinki, VC recently caught up with a number of former prize winners, to get a better understanding of their time in Finland – and the opportunities the quinquennial event has presented.
2010 1st Prize Winner, VC 'Artist' Nikita Boriso-Glebsky from Russia guest blogs about his experience.
"The Sibelius competition in 2010 was, as I thought, the last contest for me… At the end I made another one in Monaco in 2013, but that was a completely different story.
I already came to Helsinki in 2005 to compete in the previous Sibelius competition. Though it did not really work for me and I ended up performing in the second round but no further, I quite enjoyed the whole experience.
The people working for the competition were very positive and motivative, the choice of the program was very wide and interesting (including the compulsory piece of Esa-Pekka Salonen with a very romantic name “Lachen verlernt” ), my favorite Sibelius violin concerto, but the most important - the audience was so warm and passionate that I felt that I came to play for them but not for the jury, not to make a concurrence to other violinists, among which were a lot of friends of mine… Later this kind of approach would help me to perform with less stress at the other competitions I took part in.
So when the year 2010 has approached I did not have any doubts to go again to Helsinki and to play, first of all, for the audience of Helsinki!
Again we had a great variety of the pieces to choose, a very nice piece by Kaija Saariaho “Tocar”, irreplaceable Sibelius concerto, and if I remember correctly - no Paganini caprices in the first round!! Which was a complete happiness for the most of the participants!
And again seeing lots of friends of mine and making some of the new ones. Saying in a few words - this competition was never a competition, a contest for me, but more like a convention, an assembly for the violinists from all the world.
That winter was quite a challenge for all of us to play on our violins when it was around -25 degrees outside! When your instrument doesn’t want to accept that difference in temperature outside and inside, that dryness in the air, when it “coughs” and “barks’ at the moments when you expect it singing and talking… At the end that was the part of experience as well.
The competitions are always a source of some disappointments for me too. Either you or your friends are leaving during it, most of the players (including myself) are concentrated on technical perfection more than on musical one, which is logical and pity at the same time, you see people looking at you and listening to you as you were a kind of sportsman, which is a bit strange and wrong… But if you are in love with something, like I am with op.47, and you know that in the final round you will have an opportunity to play your “favorite” double stops from the third movement with one of the best orchestras especially for Finnish music - you can try to overcome all the other difficulties on your way to that moment.