The Violin Channel recently caught up with violinist Elmar Oliveira, Distinguished Artist in Residence at Lynn University and Founder & Artistic Director of the inaugural 2017 Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition - currently in its Final Rounds in Boca Raton, Florida.
Hi Elmar! Thanks for joining us here on The Violin Channel. Where did the idea come from for you to start a violin competition?
"Hi VC! I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time… I’ve always been involved in teaching - it’s one of my great passions, so the idea of recycling one’s knowledge and passing it on to young people has always been a primary consideration in my mind …"
What was the process to take an international violin competition from just concept to fruition?
"The process was my sitting down with the Lynn Conservatory Dean and saying, “Look, this is what I’d like to do: I’d like to start a competition in my name, and I’d like to… regenerate all the opportunities that I’ve had over the years to develop a prominent career as a violinist, and I’d like to pass on… my knowledge, and the judges’ knowledge, and the publicists’ knowledge, and the managers’ knowledge - I’d like to pass it on all to these young people who are trying to make careers.” I sat down with him, and we met with the president of the university - we were all on the same page, and we said, yes, let’s do it."
What do you see as the role of competitions today for aspiring young soloists?
"Well, our competition, I feel, is different from a lot of competitions. It’s unique - and this is my own personal view on it, because we’re only the second competition in the US strictly for violin of this caliber, and even though we have a handsome monetary prize, it’s not just that. While I believe that receiving money and the prestige of winning a major competition can be helpful for developing a career, I think the tools that we are offering are paramount to ongoing success. We’re going to throw the full weight of a manager and a communications specialist behind the winner, as well as offering the winner direct access to some of the most brilliant minds in the industry."
What is the procedure that you have put in place to ensure jury integrity?
"Each judge, competitor, and accompanist is required to sign a conflict of interest disclosure form. With the judges, for example, no judge is allowed to adjudicate or comment on a competitor who they are a teacher of, under the guidelines. In fact, the judge is required to leave the room before that competitor enters the stage. We created the rules and regulations posted on our website based on my experiences and the experiences of others in the industry. I feel that we have a fair and just system - I don’t believe that anything is perfect, of course, but if there is something that isn’t exactly the way we think it should be, we’ll learn from it and change from it."
Could you elaborate on the reasons behind each round’s repertoire?
"For me, I’ve always felt that there’s too much repertoire in international competitions - if you have really prominent violinists, teachers, performers sitting on the jury, most likely, within the first hour and half of hearing someone play different kinds of repertoire, they’re going to feel, “This person is very gifted”, or maybe not. I think that’s part of what I did - if you’re able to play good Bach, Mozart, and if you’re able to play virtuosic works like Ravel Tzigane and romantic works like Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, that covers a large part of the repertoire."