Rising Stars – Lukáš Vondráček: Queen Elisabeth Competition

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Born in Czechoslovakia in 1986, Lukáš Vondráček is one of the hottest young pianists on the scene right now. In 2016, he won the International Grand Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, propelling his career, already solidly established in the musical milieu, to new highs.

Vondráček had an early introduction to the piano thanks to his mother, herself a professional pianist. He made his stage debut at a young age, and by age 20 he had no less than 850 concerts in 28 different countries under his belt. Notably, he completed his first international tour at the age of 10 and appeared at Carnegie Hall at age 16. Since then, he has travelled to five continents, performing over 1000 concerts.

Lukas Vondracek, Photo: Irene Kim

Lukas Vondracek, Photo: Irene Kim

Vondráček was quickly recruited by Vladimir Ashkenazy, who introduced him to stages the world over and giving him the opportunity to appear at his side in concert, especially in the Czech Republic. Later, Vondráček studied with Hung-Kuan Chen at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he graduated in 2012. He won the international competitions at Hilton Head, San Marino, and UNISA as well as a special prize at The Cliburn in 2009. He appeared with renowned orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Belgium, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of great conductors like Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Christoph Eschenbach, and Paarvo Järvi.

With no great enthusiasm for competitions, Vondráček could continue to demonstrate the breadth of his talent all over the world, as he already has numerous engagements at various venues and with different orchestras – for example, he recently made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He says that he prefers concerts to competitions, which he finds less natural.

Armed with an exceptional sound palette, the young pianist can rely on his sense of detail, his ability to convey emotions to the audience, and his art of contrasts that won over both audience and jury at the Queen Elisabeth Competition. For the finale, he delivered a very personal and convincing interpretation of Claude Ledoux’s imposing piece A Butterfly’s Dream, which he learned in a few days (one of the elements of the competition is that candidates advancing to the finals are cloistered in a building where they must study a new score for one week with no contact with the outside world). His performance of Rachmaninoff’’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was reflective, sensitive, passionate, and profound. Winning this competition has shown the world that Lukáš Vondráček is one of the most promising pianists of his generation and a worthy heir to his mentor, Ashkenazy, who himself won the competition in 1956.

Translation: Rebecca Anne Clark

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Jeune pianiste de la scène française, Jeanne est diplômée du Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris dans les classes de George Pludermacher, Haruko Ueda et Frank Braley, et de l'Université de Montréal dans la classe de Dang Thai Son. Elle a reçu les conseils de grands maîtres tels Michel Merlet, Jean-Claude Pennetier, Jacques Rouvier et Stephen Kovacevich entre autres. Elle a été récompensée dans plusieurs concours : Premier Grand Prix au concours Flame (2007), au concours d'Aix-en-Provence, au concours Alain Marinaro (2015), lauréate du concours de l'OPMEM à Montréal. Elle apprécie l'enseignement et la musique de chambre qu'elle partage avec d'autres musiciens en différentes formations et suit actuellement une licence de littérature française à Montréal afin d’orienter une partie de sa carrière vers la critique musicale.

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