The Violin Channel recently caught up with Tanya Bannister – President of the New York-based Concert Artist Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition.
Applications for the 2020 competition, which has moved 100% online this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to close on the 30th of June.
Tell us about the Victor Elmaleh Competition. What is the main mission? Who is eligible to apply?
“Concert Artists Guild is searching for young musicians who exemplify artistic excellence and engagement with their audience, have an entrepreneurial spirit, and will go on to create an impact in the world.
We want to create a partnership with the musicians who are added to our roster.
We accept applications from all instrumentalists, singers, and chamber ensembles.
Our age limits, as of our June 30, 2020 deadline, are:
-Solo instrumentalists: 28
-Solo singers: 30
-Ensembles: average age of 30, no member over the age of 35″
What do the winners receive?
“All winners of the competition receive international management (Americas and Europe) jointly with CAG and Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT); guaranteed performances at both Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall in London; and professional career development and coaching.
Additional prizes may include a Chamber Music America Showcase Performance and more than 40 performance prizes with leading orchestras, concert series, and festivals in the US and abroad”
How important do you personally feel competitions are for launching a young musician’s performance career?
“While there are many viable routes for establishing a career in music, competitions do remain an important launching pad for many.
What we are especially proud of here at CAG, is that we feel our competition process itself gives insight to all who apply, regardless of the result, into the types of skills and considerations vital to creating a sustainable career in music”
What initiatives have you put into places in 2020 to adjust to the current COVID pandemic situation?
“CAG is now making our 2020 competition entirely virtual.
Typically our semifinal and final rounds are live and held in New York City.
This year’s competition will still take place, but there will be no in-person semifinal or final rounds.
With travel restrictions and social distancing still currently in place, we’ve decided to make this transition to remove any barriers for prospective applicants.
The semifinal and final rounds will be adjudicated virtually and there will be a video broadcast announcing this year’s winners on October 13th”
How have you pivoted your application and competition process this year?
“We have extended our competition deadline by more than 2 months to June 30th, to allow applicants more time to apply for the competition.
We are also accepting video recorded up to 2 years before our final deadline and have modified our video requirements, as applicants may be unable to record high quality video right now.
With the selection jury not getting the opportunity to see and hear the musicians perform live, is this a concern? What extra procedures will you put in place?
“While there is ultimately no substitute for live performances, we are not concerned with using recorded materials for this year’s competition.
Among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has made so clear just how necessary it is for musicians to be able to communicate and have their artistry translate via digital platforms.
So, we are actually looking forward to getting more insight in this respect than usual for this year’s applicants.
In addition to performance videos, we will be asking semifinalists to submit video introductions and will also conduct virtual interviews with all of the finalists to gain more complete pictures of who they are as artists and as people.
Unlike many other competitions, since we provide management and create longer relationships with our winners, it’s important for us to get to know them as well as we can through our competition process, either in person or online”
What advice do you have for this year’s applicants? What are you specifically looking for?
“CAG supports artists who stand for something.
We believe in the power of the arts to reach people and are committed to supporting artistic voices and musicians with purpose.
Through our competition, we seek out artists who are powerful communicators through their music and also think deeply about how to give context to their artistic platforms.
We strive to create a more inclusive space in classical music through innovative and diverse programming and by seeking musicians from diverse backgrounds for our roster”
What are you most looking forward to with this year’s competition?
“We are especially interested to see how artists respond to these unique circumstances and seize the opportunity to showcase creativity in more ways than just in their playing!”
If someone wants to apply, how should they go about this?