Greater than 35 years after the violinist Isaac Stern made a groundbreaking go to to China, his legacy there lives on.
The inaugural Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition concluded on Friday after almost three weeks of intensive performances by 24 younger violinists from all over the world. Mayu Kishima of Japan was awarded first place, taking residence the grand prize of $one hundred,000, the most important single award for a world violin competitors.
“We have been in search of the type of spark and dedication to music that our father would have embraced,” David Stern, co-chairman of the jury committee, stated in a phone interview from Shanghai.
That Isaac Stern, who died in 2001, now has a contest bearing his identify is considerably ironic given his aversion to such occasions.
So when the conductor Yu Long, a towering determine in classical music in China, raised the thought of holding a contest about two and a half years in the past, “it was not the simplest concept for the three of us to strategy,” Mr. Stern stated, referring to his brother, Michael, and his sister, Shira. “Our father did every part he might to mentor younger musicians as a way to keep away from competitions.”
Isaac Stern’s dedication to coaching younger musicians was maybe most vividly captured within the 1979 documentary “From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China.” The movie, which gained an Academy Award for greatest documentary function, chronicled Mr. Stern’s two-week journey to China for a collection of live shows and grasp courses.
That go to, which got here simply as China was rising from many years of self-imposed isolation and political tumult, is credited with having influenced a generation of young Chinese musicians, together with Mr. Yu, who recalled sitting within the viewers as an adolescent throughout considered one of Mr. Stern’s performances in Shanghai.
“In the course of the Cultural Revolution, we didn’t have many alternatives to play Western music,” Mr. Yu, now conductor of quite a lot of ensembles together with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, stated in a phone interview. “Then, in that second in 1979 when Maestro Stern got here, we abruptly felt the distinction in how we might perceive music.”
Since 1979, classical music in China has grown tremendously, with gleaming live performance halls being constructed across the nation and a few forty million younger Chinese language learning the violin or the piano.
Nonetheless, Mr. Yu stated, “The issue in China, and Asia extra broadly, is that the gamers are extra involved about technical points.”
So when it got here to this new undertaking, each the Stern household and Mr. Yu agreed that they needed to make a extra complete competitors that might reward musicians not only for technical capacity, but in addition for all-round dedication to music.
After two years of discussions and planning, the Stern household and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra got here up with a contest construction that David Stern stated his father, even together with his distaste for competitions, in all probability would have authorised. This meant together with parts that have been necessary to Isaac Stern, like chamber music and Chinese language music.
For instance, contestants within the semifinal spherical have been required to carry out two concertos: “The Butterfly Lovers,” a well-liked Chinese language concerto composed in 1959 by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. three with a chamber orchestra (with unique improvisation in the course of the cadenza part). Additionally they needed to play a violin sonata, in addition to the primary motion of piano trio by Schubert or Brahms.
The 24 contestants represented a number of nations, together with China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and america. Along with the prize cash, Ms. Kishima may also obtain efficiency contracts with a number of worldwide symphony orchestras.
Sergei Dogadin of Russia was awarded the second prize of $50,000, and Sirena Huang of the USA took house the third prize of $25,000. The violinists Zakhar Bron of Russia and Boris Kuschnir of Austria have been among the many thirteen who sat on the jury.
The competitors additionally introduced an Isaac Stern Human Spirit Award of $10,000 every to 2 noncontestants: One, to Wu Taoxiang and Du Zhengquan, who based the Einstein Orchestra, a center-faculty ensemble in China, and the opposite to Negin Khpalwak, who directs an orchestra for ladies in Afghanistan, for “their excellent contribution to our understanding of humanity by means of the medium of music.”
A lot of the funding for the competitors, which shall be held each two years, got here from company sponsors, based on Fedina Zhou, president of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The symphony has been increasing in recent times, forging an extended-time period partnership with the New York Philharmonic and, in 2014, unveiling a brand new corridor the place the competitors was held.
For a lot of musicians and music lovers in China, the competitors represents additional validation that China is properly on its solution to turning into a heavyweight participant within the classical music world.
“Finally the Chinese language individuals lastly have an internationally acknowledged competitors of their very own,” stated Rudolph Tang, a author and professional in Shanghai on the classical music business in China. “It has the whole lot that a prime competitors ought to have, like a prime jury, nice group, and excessive prize cash.”
“It is sort of a dream come true,” he added.
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