7 May 2021

Enjoy the Menuhin Competition Violin Drama

By Lark Music

Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu is no stranger to Menuhin Competition drama – to get there in 2010 he had to fly next to the pilot in a cargo plane in a last-minute dash when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull brought most flights to a halt.

The competition was held up for two days to await Angelo’s arrival and although he landed with no luggage, he went on to win the competition in Oslo, Norway.

Now, in a year of even greater upheaval, Angelo has agreed to be a judge at the 2021 virtual Menuhin Competition Richmond from May 14-23.

The event is the world’s leading international competition for young violinists and dubbed ‘the Olympics of the Violin’. It was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so artistic director Gordon Back says he is delighted it can go ahead this year, albeit virtually.

Gordon said: “While the competitors will be unable to enjoy the special camaraderie and atmosphere of exchange, the finalists will be flying to the host town, Richmond, in Virginia, next year for a special concert when we hope travel will be easier.”

Creating a stimulating environment in which talented young violinists can learn and grow has always been at the heart of the Menuhin Competition, ensuring the paramount concern of violinist Yehudi Menuhin (April 22, 1916 – March 19, 1999), for the wellbeing of young people, lives on.

In 1963 he founded the Menuhin School, in Surrey, and two decades later the Menuhin Competition was born in Folkestone, Kent, with Menuhin conducting masterclasses for competitors.

It has now become a tradition for a city or organisation to host the competition which has been held across the globe from Cardiff to Beijing, Austin, in Texas, and Geneva. It returned to London in 2016 to celebrate the Yehudi Menuhin centenary when Lark Music sponsored the Junior Prizewinners’ concert.

This year has seen the highest number of entries, 321 musicians from 54 countries, and Gordon says the standard of competition is “the highest ever”. He said: “When the competition started there were two age groups, under 15 and ages 15 to 21. The playing was at very different levels, but now the under 15s are as technically advanced as the senior competitors. It is amazing to see so much star quality.

“As well as playing music chosen by the organisers, the under 15s can also choose their own piece, so they have the option to choose something a little easier, but each one has chosen the most difficult work!”

Visitors can watch the competition free of charge from May 14-23, with the finals on May 21-22, as well as watching the judges perform and the winners of the 2018 competition in Geneva, Chloe Chua and Christian Li, playing on May 18. A concert featuring American jazz violinist Regina Carter, presented in collaboration with the Richmond Jazz Society Inc can be viewed on May 17.

The 2021 international jury panel consists of Pamela Frank (Chair, USA), Joji Hattori (Vice Chair, Japan/Austria), Noah Bendix-Balgley (USA/Germany), Aaron Dworkin (USA),  Alf Richard Kraggerud Space (Norway), Piers Lane (UK/Australia), Valentina Peleggi (Italy), Soyoung Yoon (South Korea/Switzerland), and Angelo Xiang Yu (China).

The next Menuhin Competition will jump a year to 2023 and mark its 40th anniversary. The venue will be announced during this year’s finals.

Watch the competition free of charge from May 14-23 with the finals on May 21-22.

Visit 2021.menuhincompetition.org

Sources: menuhinschool.co.uk and menuhincompeitition.org

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