VC VOX POP | “How Did the Menuhin Competition Change Your Life?”

The Violin Channel recently caught up with a panel of past prize winners to find out ...

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Ning Feng, 2000 Senior Division, Second Prize Winner: 

My experience at the Menuhin competition was something really unforgettable. Not only because it was the first major competition that I got a prize from, but also because I personally met Yehudi Menuhin, one of the greatest musicians in our music history. Meeting and playing for such a legendary person, whom I would normally only see on the CD cover, was already the greatest encouragement that a young violinist could receive. Additionally, shortly before he passed away, he had written a reference letter for me, what more could one ask for. 

Therefore, participating in the Menuhin Competition the very next year was already very emotional and meaningful. And to be able to be awarded a prize at the competition, surely gave me a lot of confidence to continue pursuing my dream in our wonderful musical world!

 

Yesong Sophie Lee, 2016 Junior Division, First Prize Winner:

The Menuhin Competition has been able to give me a completely new outlook towards my career and life. It was a significant event that made me see myself, as well as the world around me, in an entirely different perspective; it was as if I had been thrust into a whole other vortex! I have had so many experiences all over the world, like being able to play with great musicians, on great stages, and in turn, have realized the true beauty of music.

Not only did I receive great opportunities, the people that make the Menuhin Competition possible are so supportive, generous, and caring. I could not have asked for a better experience and I am so thankful that I was introduced to this competition.

 

Diana Adamyan, 2018 Senior Division, First Prize Winner:

The 2018 Menuhin competition played a significant role in my life. I couldn’t even imagine that I would have the opportunity to participate and win. Winning was very unexpected, and a real dream for me. After the competition, I have received several concert bookings in prestigious venues and festivals. With regard to this, I would like to express my gratitude to Becky Chilton, who successfully coordinated for me a range of important proposals, among them concerts in Germany, USA, Japan and the UK.

The 2018 Menuhin competition motivated me to face new challenges. I moved to Munich and started my studies with my beloved Professor Ana Chumachenco at Hochschule für Musik Und Theater. I hope this is just the beginning and I’m very happy to have had one of the most wonderful events, the Menuhin Competition, in my life!

 

Alexi Kenney, 2012 Senior Division, Third Prize Winner:

The Menuhin Competition was a deep learning experience for me. It was a myriad of personal firsts: my first and only international competition (scary!), my first experience playing a concerto with orchestra (very scary!), and my first time in China (fascinating and delicious).

Fast forward eight years to today, and that anxiety I felt in those unfamiliar situations has taught me how to better approach challenges in my life: with an open mind, perseverance, and resilience when things don’t quite go as hoped.

 

Jennifer Koh, 1989 Junior Division, Fourth Prize and 1991 Junior Division, Third Prize and Audience Prize:

Yehudi Menuhin was, and continues to be, a musical and personal inspiration. It was a great honor to meet him; and his support, when I was still a child, encouraged me to continue my musical studies.

 

Hrachya Avanesyan, 2006 Senior Division, First Prize Winner:

There’s so much to say about the role that this competition played in my life, but the most important aspect for me, in retrospect, was the preparation for it with my teacher Igor Oistrakh. This opened my eyes to what it really takes to compete at that level. From lessons which lasted 4-5 hours, to all the practicing, it was a determining moment for me as a violinist.

Additionally, just having moved to Europe from Armenia at the time, and not being connected in any way, the Menuhin competition opened some truly important doors for which I couldn’t be more thankful.

 

Simone Lamsma, 2002 Senior Division, Third Prize Winner:

The Menuhin Competition was one of my earliest international competition
experiences when I was 16, and my time there was one of immense learning
and emotion!

I have such vivid memories of the experience. I loved the diversity of
the repertoire. Two very special musical moments for me include my first
encounter with Schumann’s Second Sonata, and playing Mozart’s
Divertimento with Paul Watkins and Garfield Jackson during the
semi-finals.

I think back to the Menuhin Competition with great warmth and gratitude.
It was an experience I treasure!

 

Clara Shen, 2018 Junior Division, Fourth Prize Winner:

For me, participating in the Menuhin Competition was one of the most exciting and amazing experiences. Not only did it broaden my horizons, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet other top violinists from all over the world. As a prize winner, the Menuhin Competition supported my development with various concerts and performances for which I am very grateful.

But above all, it encouraged me to share the joy of music with the audience; which for me, is the key to touching people’s hearts.

 

Chloe Chua, 2018 Junior Division, Joint First Prize Winner:

I thought I was already very fortunate to be awarded joint first prize in the Menuhin Competition Geneva in 2018, but it was only until after the competition that I began to realize that it completely changed my life.

Since winning, I have received many invitations to perform locally and abroad, including the USA, China, UK, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. I have had the opportunity to attend music festivals, play in solo recitals, and collaborate with many renowned conductors, violinists, and orchestras. The Menuhin Competition has indeed groomed me to become a finer musician.

 

Anna JiEun Lee, 2012 Senior Division, Second Prize Winner and 2010 Junior Division, Third Prize Winner:

I was at the Menuhin Competition as a junior in 2010, and again as a senior in 2012. While both experiences were different in many ways, there were two core components which I’ve held dear to me to this day. Firstly, while we work hard to play our best, the greatest thing about competitions is seeing your friends and fellow musicians, plus eating great food wherever the competition is taking place! Secondly, both editions of the Competition introduced me to some incredible composers that, at the time, I was personally unfamiliar with, such as Piazzolla, Grieg, and Ole Bull.

For a young musician, being exposed to many different composers from different cultures, places, and historical eras can really shape the way that they learn to listen. I am incredibly grateful to the Menuhin Competition for being so supportive and playing such an important part in my artistic growth!

 

Natalia Lomeiko, 1993 Junior Division, Fifth Prize Winner:

I have very fond memories from both 1993 and 1995 competitions. In the first one, I remember taking my first independent steps in preparation. I really learned to listen to myself while in my first year away from home at the Yehudi Menuhin School. On a personal note, competing with Daishin Kashimoto, who won in 1993, brought us great friendship and musical collaboration for years to come.
In 1995, the President’s Prize resulted in an amazing solo tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in North and South America, with Lord Menuhin conducting. My most treasured memories include working with the great Yehudi Menuhin, traveling to extraordinary places, and getting lost in Teatro Colon…
Jennifer Pike, 2002 Junior Division, Fourth Prize:

Taking part in the 2002 Menuhin Competition, in Boulogne, was a life changing experience. The event had an electric atmosphere, with some of my idols amongst the judges, including Ida Haendel, Igor Oistrakh, and Erich Gruenberg. 

The rounds were incredibly tough, all taking place within a week with very demanding repertoire, and it prepared me well for the discipline and demands of life as a performer. To balance the intensity, I loved visiting the French coast in between rounds, and I’m happy to still be in touch with friends and mentors from all those years ago!

I have always loved Yehudi Menuhin’s sound, and it is very special to now be playing a beautiful Voirin bow that used to belong to him.

 

Timothy Chooi, 2014 Senior Division, EMCY Prize and 2010 Junior Division, Violin Prize:

Competing at this competition was an eye-opening experience, as I had mostly stayed around my hometown of Victoria, Canada, for most of my life. Meeting other people from around the world of different cultures and languages, and hearing how incredibly well they played, gave me goosebumps. I wanted to learn how to play as well as them.

To this day, I’m still in touch with many of these musical colleagues. Building this community at a young age has given me a network of musicians to connect with outside of my country, as we continue this life long journey as artists through thick and thin times.

 

Callum Smart, 2010 Junior Division, Fifth Prize:

Being a prize winner in the Menuhin Competition was an unforgettable experience!
Meeting some of the world’s best young violinists all in the same place was utterly inspiring, not to mention that I made a few life long friends!
After the competition, so many doors opened up for me. With great support in particular from Artistic Director Gordon Back, I started performing concerti with professional orchestras and continued to build my concert career whilst still growing my artistic personality.

 

Mayuko Kamio, 1998 Junior Division, Fourth Prize:

It was my first international competition and first trip to Europe, so it was terrifying! However, once I got there, the people in the small French town were quite nice, and Mr. Menuhin was a complete gentleman. I was picked to perform with an orchestra under his baton for the gala event, so it was certainly the highlight of the trip. My only regret is that I didn’t really have any time management skills, so by the time it was the final round, I had been totally worn out and somehow out of shape! Overall, a great memory!

 

Dambi Um, 2004 Junior Division, Second Prize:

The same year that I participated in the competition in 2004, I met Joseph Silverstein. I started studying with him, and he introduced me to the playing of many great violinists of the bygone “golden age.” I immediately fell in love with many of these artists, especially Fritz Kreisler and Christian Ferras. At the time, I came upon recordings of the young Yehudi Menuhin, as his name was very fresh in my mind from the competition. I have a vivid memory of how shocked and touched I was at hearing such incredibly soulful playing. I couldn’t comprehend how a youngster (or anyone for that matter) could weep through the violin, penetrating one’s soul with such throbbing and yearning sound.

I realized, as I have had doubts before, that I could in fact emotionally relate to certain kinds of violin playing, such as Menuhin’s, that is full of incredible amount of pathos. This has since guided me in how I would like to develop my playing style with different tones that can convey certain emotional meanings.

 

Rennosuke Fukuda, 2014 Junior Division, First Prize Winner:

Up until 2015, I was studying in Japan and trying to not make any mistakes in terms of intonation, tempo, etc…
But the Menuhin Competition changed my perspective. It taught me that performing onstage is not about the potential mistakes. It’s about creating music for music’s sake.