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Huang with TCO

Sirena Huang with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra. Photo: Roger Mastroianni

Cleveland, OH — August 20, 2011

Following their performances with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday evening, the judges named the top three prizewinners in the Cooper International Violin Competition. Awards were presented on the stage of Severance Hall by Oberlin Conservatory Dean David H. Stull and Thomas Cooper, a 1978 graduate of Oberlin College and the sponsor of the competition.

First Prize to Sirena Huang (17, South Windsor, CT), for her performance of the Mendelssohn concerto;

Second Prize to Alexandra Switala (17, Grapevine, TX), for her performance of Prokofiev’s second concerto;

Third Prize to Laura Park (17, Des Plaines, IL), for her performance of the Sibelius concerto.

In addition to cash prizes of $10,000, $6,000 and $3,000, all three performers won full, four-year scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory, pending admissison. Ms. Huang, who won the audience prize for her recital round on Wednesday, will also have the opportunity to perform with orchestras in Shanghai and Beijing.

Judges for the competition included Gregory Fulkerson, Professor of Violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and chairman of the jury; David Bowlin, assistant professor of violin at Oberlin and founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble; David Cerone, former president of the Cleveland Institute of Music; Fan Tao, conductor of the China National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra; Tong Weidong, director of violin studies at the Central Conservatory Middle School in Beijing; and Milan Vitek, professor of violin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Huang with TCO

Sirena Huang with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra. Photo: Roger Mastroianni

By Daniel Hathaway

Cleveland, OH — August 20, 2011

A large crowd gathered at Severance Hall on Friday evening, August 19, to hear Alexandra Switala, Sirena Huang (pictured above) and Laura Park, the final three contestants in Oberlin’s Cooper International Violin Competition, play concertos by Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and Sibelius with Jajha Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra. Cleveland’s premier concert hall was buzzing with excitement from an audience well stocked with young people, eager to hear and cheer on the three 17-year-old performers.

The competition began on August 11 with a field of twenty-four highly qualified contestants aged between 13 and 18. By August 19, that group had been distilled down to a trio of supremely gifted young women. We heard them for the first time playing their concertos with piano on Tuesday and were impressed by the technical prowess of all three contestants. We were looking forward to revisiting those pieces in all their orchestral splendor at Severance Hall. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Three

L-R: Park, Huang, Switala. Photo by Roger Mastroianni

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin, OH — August 18, 2011

The three finalists who will play with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday evening were announced last night by WCLV’s Robert Conrad from the stage of Warner Concert Hall at The Oberlin Conservatory of music.

Alexandra Switala: PROKOFIEV Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 6

Sirena Huang: MENDELSSOHN Concerto in E Minor, Op. 6

Laura Park: SIBELIUS Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47

The audience prize for the Recital Round was awarded to Ms. Huang. Other prize winners were Mayumi Kanagawa (4th), Gergana Haralampieva (5th) and Kelly Talim (6th).

Violin

By Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin, OH — August 18, 2011

Six violinists — the winners of Tuesday evening’s concerto round and all of them female — took the stage of Warner Concert Hall on Wednesday evening, August 17, to play 30-minute recitals. Each of the six had brought impressive technique to bear on their earlier performances. The big question to be answered tonight: which three would demonstrate the cumulative musical maturity, composure and personality to earn them the privilege of playing a concerto on Friday evening at Severance Hall with Jahja Ling and one of the most distinguished orchestras on the planet?

Gergana Haralampieva (17, Bulgaria) led off with movements from Bach and Beethoven, and moved on to Kreisler and Ravel. She used minimal vibrato in her sensitive account of the Andante from Bach’s Sonata in a, BWV 1003 and her Beethoven (the first movement of the Sonata in D, op. 12, no. 1) was spacious and stylish. She underplayed the virtuosity and pointed up the humor in Kreisler’s Caprice Viennois, and revealed the gypsy blood coursing through the veins of Ravel’s volatile Tzigane. Dark and moody at the beginning, it turned into a supple, sensual dance. Ms. Haralampieva played fantastic harmonics and made a thrilling crescendo and accellerando into the final cadence. She’s an unassuming stage presence, but her temperament clearly shines through in her playing. Read the rest of this entry »

Violin

Oberlin, OH — August 17, 2011

The following six violinists will advance to the Recital Round and perform in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory on Wednesday, August 17 at 7 pm. The concert is free and open to the public, and will be broadcast live on WCLV, 104.9 FM:

Gergana Haralampieva
J.S. BACH Andante from Sonata No. 2 in A Minor BWV 1003
L. v. BEETHOVEN Allegro con brio from Sonata No. 1 in D Op. 12 No. 1
KREISLER Caprice Viennois, Op. 2
M. RAVEL Tzigane

Alexandra Switala
J.S. BACH Allegro from Sonata No. 2 in A Minor BWV 1003
W.A. MOZART Adagio from Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219
H. WIENIAWSKI Faust Fantasy, Op. 20

Laura Park
J.S. BACH Siciliano and Presto from Sonata No. 1 in G Minor BWV 1001
N. PAGANINI Caprice # 24
SAINT-SAENS/YSAYE Caprice After the Study in the Form of a Waltz, Op. 52, No. 6
A. SCHOENBERG Phantasy, Op. 47 (1949)

Kelly Talim
L. v. BEETHOVEN Allegro con brio from Sonata No. 1 in D Op. 12 No. 1
A. BAZZINI La Ronde des Lutins, Op. 25
B. BARTOK Second Rhapsody (1928)

Mayumi Kanagawa
J.S. BACH Siciliano from Sonata No. 1 in G Minor BWV 1001
L. v. BEETHOVEN Romance No. 1 in G Op. 40
H WIENIAWSKI Polonaise Brillante No. 2 in A Major, Op. 21
E. YSAYE Sonata No. 3 (Ballade)

Sirena Huang
L. v. BEETHOVEN Allegro assai Sonata No. 8 in G Op. 30 No. 3
E. BLOCH Nigun (Improvisation) from Baal Shem Suite (1923)
N. PAGANINI Caprice # 1
M. RAVEL Tzigane

The three winners to be named following the Recital Round will play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday Evening, August 19 at 8 pm at Severance Hall.

Violin

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin, OH — August 16, 2011

Ten very talented violinists played eight different concertos in afternoon and evening sessions today in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall. It’s clear that violin playing has a bright future in the hands of these impressive young musicians.

AFTERNOON

Alexandra Switala: Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63 — Ms. Switala (17, from Grapevine, TX) looked entirely composed as she established good tempos and spun long phrases. She showed expert control of pitch and vibrato and her double stops and high triplets were ravishing. Perhaps the final Allegro was a bit aggressive, but her playing was confident and musical.

Zhu Ke: Paganini Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6 — Mr. Ke (17, from China) chose a real 19th century showpiece full of violinistic fireworks (plus a few cheesy slides) and played it with ease and room-filling tone. In his lyrical second movement, he got inside the music and made interesting changes of vibrato. There as a lot to admire about this performance, including a splendid cadenza, well-chosen tempos and superb spiccatos. Read the rest of this entry »

Violin

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin, OH — August 16, 2011

Ten competitors have advanced to the Concerto Round and will play today at 1:00 and 7:00 pm in Warner Concert Hall. Here are their names and the works they will play:

Alexandra Switala: PROKOFIEV Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63

Zhu Ke: PAGANINI Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6

Sirena Huang: MENDELSSOHN Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64

Mayumi Kanagawa: BRAHMS Concerto in D Major, Op. 99

Laura Park: J. SIBELIUS Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47

Brandon Garbot: SIBELIUS Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47

Gergana Haralampieva: DVORAK Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53

Stephen Kim: SIBELIUS Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47

Kelly Talim: SHOSTAKOVICH Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77

Ania Filochowska: WIENIAWSKI Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22

ClevelandClassical will report here after each session today.

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