Browsing: Music Competition

“He started at a very early age.” So it is written of many competition laureates. Bryn Blackwood, 28, the winner last April of the 42nd Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition in Brandon, Manitoba, took up the piano just before he turned 16. “Mine was a bit of a strange case,” he commented from his hometown of Simcoe, Ontario. Tiring of the trombone he was playing at school, Blackwood came across a performance of Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3 on the then-fledgling platform of YouTube. “I decided that I wanted to play it,” he recalls, “even though it was drastically too hard for…

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Cellist Matthew Christakos has won the 2019 Michael Measures First Prize, a prestigious award which recognizes promising young Canadian classical music performers enrolled in the summer training program of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Moreover, the 19-year-old has won several first prizes at the Kiwanis Festival of Greater Toronto, placing second overall in the Ontario strings category. Christakos owes this recognition to the many teachers who guided him, combined with his parents’ ongoing support. He studied with former Toronto Symphony Orchestra associate principal cellist David Hetherington at the Royal Conservatory’s Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists.…

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In May 29, Hannah Tam’s performance at the CMIM (Concours musical international de Montréal) earned her top honours in a newly created event showcasing rising stars called Mini Violini. This 13-year older was selected by the audience as the winner of its Coup de cœur du public prize. Above and beyond such recognition, this bright new talent collected a handsome 10 grand for her efforts. Those in attendance were deeply impressed by her playing as well as her charismatic stage presence, imbued by a very probing mindset. “The violin is such an expressive instrument,” Tam says. “From one piece to…

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Samuel Blanchette-Gagnon’s career is taking shape – in fact, it’s taking off. In May the young pianist won the prestigious 2019 Prix d’Europe, the Claire-Charbonneau-Clerk Award and the Canadian Music Centre Award for Quebec. He has performed Book 2 of Debussy’s Images and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This isn’t the first time Blanchette-Gagnon has won awards. A former student of Gérald Lévesque, he has been enrolled in a master’s program at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec since 2018. In 2014, Blanchette-Gagnon won the Canadian Music Competition grand prize, playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This competition gave him…

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American violinist Hao Zhou took First Prize last May at the Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM). His performance of the Violin Concerto No. 1 of Dimitri Shostakovich accompanied by the OSM and guest conductor Alexander Shelley was such a hit that he was selected by the audience as the winner of the Radio-Canada Prize. Hao Zhou is currently studying with Canadian violinist Martin Beaver at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. Beaver, it must be noted, encouraged his student to take part in this year’s competition on the basis of his own experience with the event. Playing the work…

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Carter Johnson, technically a resident of Vancouver, was in Montana, on his way to New York. The cellphone connection was spotty.“It’s a lot cheaper to drive,” the 22-year-old said, with his wife Hannah at the wheel. “If we were to ship this stuff, it would be way too expensive.”Their two-year-old son Preston would be flying in with his grandmother. “Too much driving for him,” Johnson explains.The road trip marked a new chapter in the career of this pianist, who last year won both the grand prize in the OSM Manulife Competition and first prize in the Stepping Stone division of…

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Angela Ryu, 19, is the 2019 winner of the Shean Strings Competition in Edmonton. The Korean-Canadian violinist also took the Paul J. Bourret Memorial Award for best performance of the imposed piece, Improvisation for solo violin by the late Canadian composer André Prévost. These prizes crown a brilliant career of musical studies that began in her hometown, New Denver, B.C., at age 5 with Daphne Hughes. Four years later, Ryu moved to Calgary to hone her skills at the Mount Royal Conservatory. Under William van der Sloot, she was a full scholarship student in the advanced performance program. Ryu has…

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Tony Siqi Yun is listed second-to-last, alphabetically, on the roster of pianists represented by the New York-based Opus 3 talent agency. Following him: Krystian Zimerman. Where the Toronto native made it to the top of the list was in last May’s inaugural China International Music Competition in Beijing. A management deal with Opus 3 (the descendant of the Sol Hurok organization) and Armstrong Music and Arts was part of his gold-medal prize package, which includes three years of coordinated concertizing in North America, Europe and China. And, oh yes, a cash prize of US$150,000. “Tony exhibited professionalism, musicianship, poise and…

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Then 16-year-old Australian pianist Shuan Hern Lee won the 2019 Cliburn Junior Competition, he was already preparing repertoire for his next competition. In August, Lee was preparing to fly from his hometown, Perth, to the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy. He is one of the youngest candidates. Lee’s hyperactive competition schedule is the typical experience of many young musicians today. They readily crisscross the globe. Competition participation is not only seen as a necessary and natural career strategy but as an opportunity to meet fellow musicians and peers. It is also viewed as a means of globalizing…

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Polarized Views on Domingo A lengthy Associated Press report on the alleged inappropriate behaviour of Plácido Domingo has divided music lovers. Supporters of the general director of the Los Angeles Opera point out that he took no for an answer – eventually – when approaching potential paramours. Others contend that his conduct constituted harassment. The story by Jocelyn Gecker claimed that seven of nine performers interviewed felt that their careers were “adversely impacted” by their non-cooperation. Two said they accepted his advances. The only accuser who let her name be used, retired mezzo-soprano Patricia Wulf, subsequently told NPR: “I didn’t…

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