The Violin Channel this week caught up with Gordon Back, Artistic Director of the Menuhin Competition.
Gordon, tell us about your long association with Yehudi Menuhin and the Menuhin Competition?
I first met Menuhin in 1973 when he invited me to accompany his masterclass at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He was a great mentor to me in my early 20's and when he started the Menuhin Competition in 1983 he invited me to be an official pianist. Following his death in 1999, I was invited to become Competition Director in 2002 and later Artistic Director. So, I have a long association with an event that Menuhin loved.
What are some of your most precious memories from your time Yehudi?
One of the most precious memories of him out of many, was in the early years of Menuhin Competition in Folkestone, when he sat in a chair surrounded by 25 competitors talking about the Bach “Chaconne”. He was always curious and wanted to share and learn from the children.
How have you seen the competition evolve since it was found in 1983?
It has grown exponentially to become the leading competition in the world for young violinists. The level of playing in both Junior and Senior sections is truly amazing.
What moments above all stand out from the competition over all these years?
There are too many to name, because of the collaboration with each host city, every edition becomes a different competition. A highlight was taking the Menuhin Competition to Asia for the first time, to Beijing in 2012.
How has the competition pivoted to cope and adjust with the current pandemic situation?
The Menuhin Competition is always a creative, innovative and changing event and so we are extending our use of technology to deal with the current situation.
What advice do you have for musicians world-over right now?
It's an extremely challenging time for all musicians. Music is never an easy profession: learn new skills, embrace technology, keep practising and we will all come through this as stronger people.
To quote Menuhin, “Our young gifted violinists will be the ambassadors of goodwill, for they come with pure hearts and music in their souls. It is in these younger people that we invest our future.”