The success of the 2016 Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition raised worldwide coverage, and, for the first time, demonstrated that a Chinese music competition is just as sophisticated as any other at the global level. The Organisation Committee held a press conference on August 8, 2018 to announce that the second edition of the competition will take place from then until September 1 in Shanghai. In addition, there was also a draw for the order of the quarter finalists.
Stellar Judging Panel
The Jury Committee has been expanded from thirteen to fifteen members, and features a star-studded lineup of pedagogues, violinists, and industry leaders to fairly evaluate the contestants in a variety of ways including technique, interpretation, and performing experiences.
The jury – co-chaired by conductor David Stern, son of Isaac Stern, and Professor Vera Tsu Weiling who has sat on the judging panels of many leading international violin competitions – is comprised of internationally-acclaimed violinists Maxim Vengerov and Augustin Dumay; leading figures of China’s violin industry Lina Yu and Siqing Lu; the founding member and first violinist of Shanghai Quartet, Weigang Li; the founding member of Emerson Quartet, Philip Setzer; the former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Glenn Dicterow; and concertmaster of Munich Philharmonic Sreten Krstic. The jury also includes world-renowned pedagogues Zakhar Bron, Dora Schwarzberg, and Daniel Heifetz; and two industry veterans, the founding member of the classical artists management company Askonas Holt, Martin Campbell-White, and the current programming director of Philharmonie de Paris, Emmanuel Hondré.
Renowned Collaborative Musicians to Help Improve Musical Quality
The repertoire of this edition provides a greater focus on interpreting and understanding the musical spirit rather than merely technique, aiming to evolve the candidates from ‘soloists’ to ‘musicians.’
Additionally, the works include more diversified music styles and forms of performances. Each contestant will perform four sets of works during the Quarter-Finals. Then, for comprehensive assessment, the Semi-Finals will include even more diversified repertoire and consist of three sections – the string quartet in which contestants will perform with Yi-Wen Jiang, Honggang Li, and Nicholas Tzavaras from the Shanghai Quartet; sonatas and Kreisler’s works in which contestants will collaborate with invited young pianists Zhen Chen, Yingjia Xue, and Qiuning Huang; and a Mozart Concerto with an originally-composed cadenza. In addition to including a concerto of choice, which is conventional in competitions, the Final Round will include the violin concerto, La Joie de la Souffrance, by the renowned Chinese composer Qigang Chen, which was commissioned by SISIVC, among others. The piece will be conducted by David Stern, Music Director of Kansas City Symphony Orchestra and son of Isaac Stern.
Quarter-Finalist Order is Set, Contestants Getting Ready
Starting from the announcement of this edition’s competition on September 9, 2017 until the application deadline on January 31, 2018, the number of applicants increased by a large margin compared to the first edition. Over 90% of the applicants have won prizes from top-level competitions and more than half are students or graduates from international top-class music schools. Twenty-seven contestants from eleven countries and regions will participate in the Quarter-Finals.
It is widely agreed that the first edition of the Competition has established extensive awareness and influence on the classical music world for its professional competition system, prominent judges, fair selection, innovative schedule, outstanding contestants, and distinctive features, which lays the foundation for this edition.
The 2018 competition will once again seek nominations for the Isaac Stern Award – Human Spirit Award, which provides recognition to any individual from around the world who has made an outstanding contribution to humanity through the medium of music.
From Competition to a Professional Career on Bigger Stages
Besides the USD $100,000 prize presented to the champion, the largest music monetary prize of any music competition in the world, the Competition puts great effort on helping soloists become musicians over the long term on their road to professional musicianship. The Competition also introduces the winners to world-class agencies, recording opportunities, and facilitates collaborations with top-level national and international orchestras such as the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, and Sydney Symphony, in order to open the door to a professional career and to provide them a bigger stage.
New Commission for the Final Round to Promote Chinese Music
This year’s competition will continue the tradition of spreading Chinese music, working together with China Pacific Insurance, the principal sponsor of the Stern Competition. La Joie de la Souffrance violin concerto by renowned Chinese composer Qigang Chen is a required work for the final round. It was specially planned by Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and is co-commissioned by Beijing Music Festival, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, and
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
According to Chen, this work embraces both eastern and western cultures, dives in-depth into the meaning of life, and poses a great challenge to the performer’s ability to analyze and understand the music. By tapping into the global influence of the Competition, Chinese works such as this one have a chance to reach a wider audience - faster. Including a commission by a Chinese composer also embodies the concept of Chinese music as a more effective approach to communicating the Chinese culture with the rest of the world – the idea proposed by Long Yu, President of the Organization Committee, during the initial stages of the establishment of the competition.