The Violin Channel recently caught up with French violinist Marianne Piketty, Artistic Director of the Mirecourt International Violin Competition - set to take place in Mirecourt, France from the 14th to the 22nd of November, 2020.
Tell us about the Mirecourt Competition? When was it founded and what is the mission of the competition?
"The Mirecourt International Violin Competition aims to encourage talented youth, up to 26-years-old, who stand out for their interpretation and personality.
It was founded in 2010, and has since become an important rendez-vous for violinists.
We feel the competition should be more than a simple challenge.
Above all, candidates seek to gain knowledge from distinguished professors and artists, and refine their aesthetic on specific repertoire.
Our mission is quite clear...to create an environment where candidates can perform at their best and kickstart their career.
We are also based in Mirecourt, the capital of French lutherie, and the significance of this heritage is apparent.
During the competition, several workshops will be held in partnership with the National school of Lutherie - and two of the special prizes will be provided by luthiers from Mirecourt.
Highlighting this profession and the deep links between the evolution of instrumental techniques and the evolution of the instrument itself, is also an important goal for us"
What initiatives have you put into places to adjust to the current COVID situation?
"Once we were confident that we could do it safely, we decided to go ahead with the competition.
We felt that musicians all over the world would be, unlike ever before, in need of a clear short-term goal.
However, to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, and to respond to the particularities of social-distancing, we introduced quite a few changes.
For the first time this year, there is a preselection based on video recordings.
This allow us to extend our range, cast our net a little further, but also makes it easier for the violinists from countries still affected by the pandemic.
It still isn't as fluid as we would like, but we are adapting as much as possible and we will be particularly attentive to the feedback we receive this year.
As an example, we recently had to change the program of the video preselection - as several candidates exposed their difficulties to record themselves with a pianist"
How important do you feel competitions are for launching a young musician’s performance career?
"Competitions aren't an end goal by themselves.
However building a repertoire, the rapport with the audience, refining a vision, gaining charisma.... all these elements are at the core of our profession.
International competitions refine the decades of hard work, dedication, and imagination the candidates have put in.
However it shouldn't be necessarily a "trial by fire" sort of experience.
International competitions are ,after all, the perfect place to meet and learn from world-class musicians and teachers.
There is a limit to what can be achieved alone, and when you want to carve a path for yourself as a violinist, there comes a moment when you realize how much there is to gain from participating in such events - and presenting yourself to new audiences and future colleagues"
There are many competitions today and many 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners, what do you feel are the differentiating elements that propel some young musicians to a successful and sustainable performance career?
"As spectators and organizers of the Mirecourt International Violin Competition, we are lucky to have a plethora of talented, dedicated youths, all around the world.
However, it is my firm belief that there is more to an international career than just excelling as a violinist.
Expanding your horizons, cultivating skills, exposing yourself to different situations and audiences - each with different tastes and cultural baggage - is paramount.
When you have something to say and allow your personality to shine trough on stage, building experience and having a strategy in place is key.
This is why we built the competition the way it is, in order to prepare the candidates as much as possible before they take this first step.
I'm happy to say that all of our laureates have since become respected figures in the violin landscape"
The competition offers a selection of special prizes, this year. Can you tell us more about these?
"There are cash prizes for the finalists (5000 € - 3000 € - 1000 € - 500 €) - plus special prizes rewarding the best interpretations of a French contemporary piece and of a French sonata.
There is also the audience's choice award.
There are two very unique prizes, due to the particularity of this competition, being held in one of the historic capitals of violin and bow making:
The special bow-maker's award will grant one of the candidates a violin bow made by Gabriel Pasquier, a bow-maker from Mirecourt.
The special prize "Lutherie française" will reward one of the candidates with a two-year loan of a modern violin crafted by Bogidar Vermand, a luthier of the Mirecourt school"
How important is fairness and transparency in your voting process? What initiative do you have in place to ensure an unbiased result?
"We have taken every precaution to ensure that in every step towards the results and the finals, the only consideration will be the quality of the performance and artistic potential.
The members of the jury will have only the most basic information on the candidates to their disposal including name, date of birth, nationality, program and violin.
All votes will be cast anonymously through an encrypted server and there will be no modification possible.
Members of the Jury won't discuss anything with each other and won't be able to vote for or against their own students.
Results will be totaled independently and released only at the end of the competition.
Finally, masterclasses will only be available to candidates who have been eliminated, so there is no risk of any information being disclosed this way.
I have the ustmost faith in our Jury, who has also been carefully selected with this consideration in mind.
I encourage everyone to read the rules and regulations of the competition, which are available on our website.
We aim to be as transparent as possible.
If there is any question regarding this process, please contact us"
If someone wants to apply for your 2020 competition, how should they go about this?
"You will find all the information required to apply on our website, or through our official accounts in social networks.
You are more than welcome to write to us if you require more information: [email protected]"