The 2021 four finalists include violinists VC Young Artist Maria Dueñas from Spain, Sory Park from South Korea, Angela Chan from Hong Kong, and Sophia Stoyanovich from the USA.
We sat down with the competition's founder, Julian Gargiulo, "the pianist with the hair", for an inside look.
Tell us about this unique event. How did you come up with the idea for this innovative competition?
Getting to Carnegie is a yearly competition which rotates between violin, cello, and voice. Several things make it unique among other classical music competitions.
There is no application fee. There is no professional jury. The Final Round, which takes place at Carnegie Recital Hall (hence the name), is also the world premiere of a new work of mine written specifically for the competition.
Carnegie Hall is a metaphor for reaching the top. The idea of a competition which combines that metaphor of excellence with the reality of getting to the actual concert hall, is something that always fascinated me. That is coupled with my long-term goal of making classical music more accessible and fun to people of all ages.
I was lucky to have the support of some incredible people, including board member Susan Fisher and Honorary Board Member Emanuel Ax, as well as The Violin Channel and the generous support of the Alphadyne Foundation to help make this idea a reality.
What are you hoping the candidates will take away with them?
This year, we had over 70 applicants from 19 different countries coming from the top conservatories and music schools in the world. The four finalists are truly exceptional.
Performing at the highest level essentially means forgetting everything you’ve learned and just playing from the heart. The experience of being judged by an audience is tremendously important because at the end of the day, an audience is the truest of juries.
So no, it’s not just about adding “Carnegie Hall” to their bios, though that’s definitely a perk.
How did you adapt to the COVID-19 situation?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Carnegie Hall is closed at the moment and the competition had to move online. With the incredibly generous help of the Violin Channel, we are able to stream the Final Round “live” to practically half a million VC followers and anyone else with an internet connection (and 45min to spare).
The internet is currently the biggest concert hall in the world. While Covid has taken away so much from so many, it has brought our competition into the home of every single person with a phone line and a router.
What can this year’s winner expect?
Each finalist receives a cash prize of $1,000. The first prize winner will receive an additional $4,000, get to perform at Carnegie Recital Hall in January 2022 for next year’s Getting to Carnegie Competition, as well as be the featured violinist in the Water Island Music Festival, to be held in the Virgin Islands in 2022.
What is your process for composing the new sonata?
Sometimes a whole movement will come in an afternoon, sometimes it will happen over months of painstaking editing. Inspiration can strike at any moment. For instance, a theme can arrive "unannounced" when I’m taking my 3-year-old son James for a carousel ride (we live in Paris), and then I’ll have to bribe him with chocolate to get home in time to write it down.
I’m not an organized person by nature, but I try to be in my music. I think a good piece should be better than its composer. The actual process is a bit like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, or “survival of the fittest,” only the musical version is “survival of the fittest theme.”
If we want to watch this year’s competition, how can we go about that?
This year’s Final Round will be streamed both on The Violin Channel and the Getting to Carnegie Facebook pages. It will air January 12th at 5 PM EST.