Thirty-five talented violinists from around the world will bring their own style and flair to Singapore as they vie for first prize in the inaugural Singapore International Violin Competition hosted by the NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM). Beginning on 10 January, the triennial competition culminates in the Grand Finals on 21 January at the Esplanade. The competition, a landmark cultural initiative for the country as well as the region, aims to uncover world-class talents under the age of 30.
The Singapore International Violin Competition is distinctive as it offers all six major prize winners a three-year loan of a violin from the outstanding Rin Collection, owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Rin Kei Mei and his wife. The collection, which consists of over 500 fine violins, violas and cellos, includes some of the world's most valuable instruments including Antonio Stradivari, Guarneris and Amatis.
The 35 finalists were drawn from a blind listening test of over 148 applications from 27 countries. Associate Professor Qian Zhou, founding Head of Strings at YSTCM and chair of the nine-member panel of judges, shared that the jury was looking for beauty, honesty, personality and sincerity, saying "We want an artist.
Three Singaporean violinists passed the first round'Loh Jun Hong, Phang Lijia and See Ian Ike. Jun Hong, a seasoned competitor who has excelled at international competitions in Europe and the United States, is an alumnus of YSTCM. Three other finalists'Korniev Oleksandr, Shi Xiaoxuan and Wong Yat Sze are current YSTCM students under the tutelage of Assoc Prof Qian.
The competition promises to be stiff, as the participants include winners of recent prestigious violin competitions, among them Alexandra Conunova from Moldova, who won First Prize at the Joseph Joachim Violin Competition in Hanover in 2012; Francisco Fullana from Spain, First Prize Winner at the 2014 International Johannes Brahms Competition and the 2008 Pablo de Sarasate National Violin Competition; as well as Hong Ui-Youn from South Korea, who swept the first prize at multiple competitions.
The winner will receive $67,000 (US$50,000); a recording produced and distributed globally by Naxos, a leading classical music recording label; international performance opportunities with some of the world's great orchestras; and a three-year instrument loan from the Rin Collection.
Professor Bernard Lanskey, Director of YSTCM, paid tribute to the strong support of Mr Rin, who was enthusiastic about hosting this world-class event in Singapore. "The country has evolved so far, and he felt that this was a time to celebrate the cultural development, said Prof Lanskey. Mr Rin has also committed to five editions of the competition, with the next one scheduled for 2018.