by Mike Telin

Top Three

On Thursday of this week twenty-four aspiring violinists between the ages of thirteen and eighteen will arrive at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music all hoping to be one of only three finalists who will have the opportunity to perform a full concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall on Friday, July 26.

In 2010, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music joined with the Cleveland Orchestra to offer the first Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, an important new international competition for young musicians (the competition alternates annually between piano and violin). In addition to getting a chance to perform with The Cleveland Orchestra, contestants are also vying for cash prizes of $10,000 for the first-place winner, $6,000 for second place, and $3,000 for third place winner, fourth, fifth, and sixth prizes of $1,000, and the Audience Prize of $500.

Reading the resumes of these twenty-four young players, it’s difficult to call them young — perhaps in age but not in accomplishments. All have been highly successful in competitions in their home regions, nationally and internationally. All have performed in master classes with some of the world’s most noted teachers and performers. And, as a result, many perform regularly with orchestras as well as performing chamber music and solo recitals.

The contestants come from the countries of China (6) – Japan (1) – South Korea (1) – Sweden (1) – Taiwan (2) and the United States (13). They range in age from 14 (1) to 15 (4) – 16 (13) – 17 (2) and 18 (4).

A number have chosen to relocate from their home countries to the United States in order to study in a Young Artist Program such as the Juilliard School Pre-College Division or the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, including the only local competitor, 15 year old Jieming Tang from China who is attending the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Young Artist Program and St. Ignatius High School.

Beginning on Saturday, July 20 and running through Monday, July 22 in Warner Concert Hall each contestant will present a thirty-five minute recital of required repertoire provided by the competition which includes selections from the Sonatas of J. S. Bach, the second movement a concerto by Mozart, The first movement of a sonata by Beethoven, A Caprice from Op. 1 by Paganini (except #4, 11, 7, or 16), a brilliant concert work and a work or works of the competitor’s choice

On Tuesday, July 23,, ten contestants will be chosen to play an entire concerto selected by each competitor from the list provided by the competition. From that expansive list of concertos it appears that the Tchaikovsky concerto is the favorite with 8 contestants choosing to perform that work should they be part of the round. The other chosen concertos include Prokofiev #2 (5) – Sibelius (4) – Brahms (2) and Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens #3, Shostakovich #1, Vieuxtemps #4 and Wieniawski #2 (1 player each).

On Wednesday, July 24, six finalists will perform 30-minute programs of repertoire from the first round selected by the judges. At the conclusion of this round, fourth, fifth, and sixth prizes will be announced. As in the past, this round will be broadcast live on WCLV 104.9 FM as well as via a live video stream. And on Friday, July 26 at 8 pm the top three finalists will perform with the Cleveland Orchestra under Jajha Ling at Severance Hall. The concert will be broadcast live on WCLV.

Later this week we’ll talk to some of the contestants as well as to one of the members of the jury.

Published on July 16, 2013

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