Semifinalists Announced for 35th Irving M. Klein International String Competition June 6 – 7 Including 2 Canadians


One of the world’s top string competitions goes digital for the first time in its history 

(SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 6, 2020) In response to these extraordinary times, the music – and the Klein – must go on! Celebrating 35 years of helping the world’s top young string musicians gain prominence in the competitive world of classical music, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition will take place virtually June 6 – 7, 2020 starting at 10AM each day on our YouTube channel.

A distinguished jury of seven will convene remotely to judge eight semifinalist performance videos to determine this year’s winners.  Audiences worldwide will be able to witness all eight semifinalists compete for cash prizes and performance contracts. Results will be announced online June 7, 2020.  Produced by the California Music Center, the Klein is normally held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, our presenting partner.  More details will be announced soon on the livestream schedule of events and sequence of performers.

This year’s eight semifinalists showcase the exceptional talent from the top teachers and conservatories in North America.  Selected from 116 entrants representing 12 nationalities, the semifinalists are:

  • ·  KEONI BOLDING, viola; age 21, from Philadelphia PA; attends The Juilliard School; student of Hsin-Yun Huang and Cynthia Phelps.
  • ·  GABRIELLE DESPRÉS, violin; age 19, from Alberta Canada; attends The Juilliard School; student of Masao Kawasaki and Joseph Lin.
  • ·  CAROLINE DURHAM, violin; age 19, from Holladay UT; attends Columbia University/The Juilliard School joint program; student of Masao Kawasaki.
  • ·  MASHA LAKISOVA, violin; age 18, from Vernon Hills IL; studies at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division; student of Li Lin and Itzhak Perlman.
  • ·  ENRIQUE RODRIGUES, violin; age 18, From Fairlawn NJ, Canada; studies at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division; student of I-Hao Lee.
  • ·  DONGYOUNG (JAKE) SHIM, violin; age 18, from Gyeonggi-do, South Korea; attends New England Conservatory; student of Donald Weilerstein.

    ·  JIAXUN (CAROLINE) YAO, cello; age 18,
    from Qingdao, China; attends The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division; student of Richard Aaron and Sieun Lin.
  • ·  DAVIS YOU, cello; age 18, from Palo Alto CA; attends Palo Alto High School; student of Jonathan Koh.  (ages as of June 6, 2020)

In acknowledgement of lack of access to recording studios and to ensure equity for the semifinalists, each will record at home and submit one video of an unaccompanied work of Bach and the commissioned work by Robert Gibson, followed by a second video of a complete concerto, also unaccompanied.

Prizes include cash and orchestra contracts. Klein winners also participate in educational activities and recitals in the Bay Area.

The jury includes Richard Aaron, professor of cello at the University of Michigan, The Juilliard School and The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings; cellist Christopher Costanza, of the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Artist-in-Residence at Stanford; violinist Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic and on faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music; violist Karen Dreyfus, who also teaches at the Thornton School; this year’s commissioned composer, Robert Gibson; violinist Ian Swensen, Chair of Violin at San Francisco Conservatory’s String Department; and Barbara Day Turner, Music Director of San José Chamber Orchestra.

The Irving M. Klein International String Competition, produced by the California Music Center, is open to musicians between ages 15 and 23.  The Klein Competition has achieved international recognition as one of the most prestigious classical music competitions, recognized for the high caliber of the contestants; its unique, nurturing environment; and its commitment to the commissioning of new works.


Its award carries the prestige that has helped many top soloists gain prominence in the competitive world of classical music, including Jennifer Koh, Mark Kosower, Vadim Gluzman, Jennifer Frautschi, Alban Gerhardt, Frank Huang, Tessa Lark, and Robert deMaine.  The competition is named for the late cellist and master teacher who devoted himself untiringly to the development of young artists.

About the California Music Center

CMC was founded in 1974 by Irving M. Klein, a virtuoso chamber musician and master cello teacher, as the sponsoring organization for a summer music institute and chamber music series for young artists.  Following Mr. Klein’s passing in 1985, CMC inaugurated the Irving M. Klein International String Competition (“the Klein”) in 1986; since then, the Klein has become one of the most prestigious events of its kind, attracting ever-increasing numbers of entries annually from throughout the world and helping to enhance the developing careers of exceptional young players who have gone on to become renowned soloists, chamber musicians, teachers, and prominent members of the world’s finest orchestras. Learn more at


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