With the 2018 Alice & Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition coming to a climax this week in Harbin, 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 biennial event has since presented.
In a VC-exclusive blog, German-based piano quartet and former 1st Prize winners, VC Artists Notos Quartett talk us through their 2016 experience:
"As a piano chamber group one is always on the lookout for important competitions that are open to formations outside of the usual string quartet set up. The generous prize money, a jury comprised of famous figures of the classical music scene such as Shlomo Mintz and Lynn Harrell and the possibility to compete with and meet ensembles from all over the world made the decision to apply very easy.
Once having arrived we all remember the competition being extremely well organised with loads of volunteers assisting in any way they could. The atmosphere was friendly and open with lots of interesting ensembles/soloists from all over the world making our stay a memorable experience not just reduced to the stress factor of a competition.
Harbin being a place one might not usually visit when going to China was extremely interesting to us, so we spent a lot of time getting to know the area, trying the food and simply walking around the beautiful promenade alongside the river.
The experience of actually playing the finals was also quite special - the Grand Theatre in Harbin is an incredible hall.
Many situations during the competition were memorable to us: meeting the other participants, getting to know a completely different China than we had known until then, performing, meeting some of our musical role models in the jury and the incredible founder of the competition, Ms Schoenfeld.
The most memorable though was meeting and being congratulated on our performance at the award ceremony concert by Zubin Mehta who had by sheer chance been in Harbin at the time.
Not to mention the prize money, winning the competition most certainly boosted our career, especially in Asia. We’ve stayed in contact with some of the jury members and the competition team over the years, the latter assisting us where they can in all questions regarding a China tour we’ll be playing beginning of next year.
We wish the competition a long lasting and successful future, hoping many others can benefit the way we did and congratulations to this year's chamber competition winners, the wonderful Ulysses Quartet.