With the 2018 ‘Australian Young Performer of the Year’ Awards currently reaching its final stages in Sydney, Australia, VC recently caught up with a number of former top prize recipients, to get a better understanding of their time at the national competition – and the opportunities the annual event has since presented.
"Growing up in Australia as a young musician, The ABC Young Performers Awards for me was the biggest competition to aim for in the country. I remember as a 10 year old going to watch a category finals with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and then watching the Grand Final on TV and thinking that one day that’s what I wanted to enter and win. It was a big deal!
I entered it once when I was about 16 or 17, but I wasn’t at the right stage of development to do well in it as I hadn’t had much experience with competitions or the preparation required for such things. It was a massive undertaking with the huge amount of repertoire required.
In the intervening years, I went to London to study and work, which turned out to be a massive eye opener and great experience. I feel this gave me the confidence to go back and have another go at the competition. This time I took serious time out to practice and prepare thoroughly.
In 2012, when I did the competition, the format of the rounds was different to today. 4 rounds throughout the year starting in February and ending in October. Progressing through each round was exciting and made me even more determined to play better. However, I was living in London and it meant I had to travel back for each round! 4 return trips to Australia in the space of 9 months is somewhat tiring, but it turns out that this sort of traveling is normal in the life of a busy musician.
The Grand Final was with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. I had chosen to play Shostakovich 1st Violin Concerto, which is a difficult piece in so many different ways. I don’t really remember much leading up to it. It all wizzed by so quickly! I was just spending a lot of time practising and playing through to lots of different people to make sure I was thoroughly prepared. Even the rehearsal with the orchestra and the actual performance itself is now a blur as when in the moment I have to get into a completely different headspace. The concentration required to play at the highest possible level is enormous. Unlike anything you’ll experience. I do however remember my name being announced at the end as the winner. I couldn’t believe it. I think I went into temporary shock! It was an amazing feeling to know I’d done it.
Competitions are useful things to enter. If you’re good enough they can give your career a boost, though you shouldn’t rely on them to sort your career out for the rest of your life. This is up to you. Competitions are good for instilling a strong work ethic as you learn how much preparation is required to do well, and this translates across into preparing for future auditions and concerts. I never want to settle for second best, I’m always striving to improve to be a better musician. I take it seriously and as such I’ve played as soloist with all the major Australian orchestras as well as lead several British orchestras including Bournemouth Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, co-lead English Chamber Orchestra, played in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and I have a permanent position as Assistant Leader with Royal Northern Sinfonia. Hard work pays off!
KATERINA NAZAROVA | SHOSTAKOVICH | VIOLIN CONCERTO NO. 1 | 3RD & 4TH MVTS | VLADIMIR VERBITSKY & WEST AUSTRALIAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | ABC YOUNG MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR | 2012