Butler School of Music Hosts International Young Violinists Competition
Jan. 16, 2014
The Menuhin Competition comes to North America for the first time in its 30-year history
AUSTIN, Texas — The Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin will host the 2014 edition of the biennial Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading competition for violinists under the age of 22, Feb. 21 – March 2.
The competition received a record number of applications from the cream of a rising generation of young violinists across 27 countries. It will include 42 competitors this year, 16 of whom are Americans, including 12-year-old Claire Wells of Plano, Texas.
In addition to the competition rounds, the 10-day event will feature masterclasses with the jurors, concerts, participatory activities and speaking events, ranging from the “Art of the Violin” given by violin-maker and restorer Charles R. Ervin, to the career-focused “Soloist, Concertmaster or Chamber Musician?” panel discussion given by the Menuhin jury. It will culminate with a performance by the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra.
“I want to welcome young musicians, educators and live music enthusiasts from across the great state of Texas and the world to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event. They will have the opportunity to have intimate access to musicians from around the globe, while witnessing, up close, performers at the top of their craft,” said Glenn Richter, interim director of the Butler School of Music.
As much a festival as a competition, every candidate is invited to stay throughout the competition to participate in the activities and to forge friendships with fellow musicians. With its spirit of collaboration and collegial sense of nurturing, the Menuhin Competition is unique among music competitions and is a living example of Yehudi Menuhin’s legacy.
Yehudi Menuhin is considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. Born in New York City in 1916, he had Jewish-American roots. He went on to study, perform, conduct and teach around the world, and made his homes in England and Switzerland from 1958 until his death in 1999. Menuhin’s devotion to music education was apparent. In the 1960s-70s, he established the Yehudi Menuhin School in England and the Menuhin Music Academy for young virtuosi in Gstaad, Switzerland, before founding the Menuhin Competition in 1983. He was also known for his collaborative style, working with such musicians as sitarist Ravi Shankar and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. He toured in the U.S. regularly until reaching his 70s and even made a 1952 appearance with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
The Menuhin Competition has never before been held in North America. Most recently, it was held in Beijing in 2012.
The media are invited to attend the 2014 competition’s spectacular opening concert on Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. at the Long Center’s Dell Hall, featuring acclaimed international soloists alongside outstanding young talents. Former prizewinner, jury member and internationally acclaimed violinist Ilya Gringolts will be joined by the Butler School’s Anton Nel in Mendelssohn's “Double Concerto for Piano and Violin.” Also on the program is an appearance by last year's Juniors 1st Prize winner — American Kevin Zhu — and the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra.
This will be followed by five days of competition rounds for both the junior (under 16 years old) and senior (16-21 years old) sections, interspersed with a rich assortment of chamber music evenings, talks, a family concert and masterclasses with the jury.
Competition rounds will feature the world premieres of newly commissioned works by Butler School faculty members for solo violin, both with a Texas theme: for the seniors, Donald Grantham’s “Black-eyed Suzy”; and for the juniors, Dan Welcher’s “The Cowboy and the Rattlesnake.”
The competition’s finals will include the finalists’ choice of a virtuoso work accompanied by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra (for the juniors) and the Austin Symphony Orchestra (for the seniors). Once all results have been announced, the 10-day competition will culminate with the closing gala concert featuring the Cleveland Orchestra — one of the most renowned orchestras in the U.S. — conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. Appearing for the first time in Austin since 1976, the orchestra will share top billing with renowned German violinist Arabella Steinbacher and the first-prize winners of the 2014 competition.
Details of the full program of events in Austin can be found at violinatx.org/events. Tickets are on sale now and many events are free.