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Queen Elisabeth Competition Under Way

Sergey Khachatryan won the first prize at the 2005 violin edition of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, when there were 134 competitors. This year's violin competition opened on May 4, with only 68 violinists in competition, having been reduced in number from an originally announced 83. Arie Van Lysebeth presides over the jury, whose members this year include Augustin Dumay, Yusuko Horigome, Jaime Laredo, Daniel Hope, Vadim Repin (the spectacular winner of the 1989 competition). Among the 68, who played their first-round hearings all last week, were 14 Koreans, 9 Japanese, 6 Chinese, 10 Russians, 4 Germans, 3 French, and several others. There were three Americans: Noah Bendix-Balgley, Nathan Giem, and Eunice Keem. Each candidate was required to prepare three Paganini caprices (one is selected by the jury at the hearing), an excerpt of one of the Bach unaccompanied sonatas, and a movement of Bartók's first concerto.

Martine D. Mergeay had nice things to say in La Libre Belgique (which continues to have the best coverage of the competition) about one of the Belgian violinists in the competition, Lorenzo Gatto, who was also in the field back in 2005. He was one of the 24 violinists who made it into the semifinals, along with the other Belgian competitor, Jolente De Maeyer, and just one of the Americans, Noah Bendix-Balgley. Mergeay also singled out the 21-year-old Korean Kim Suyoen for particular praise.

Each semifinalist must perform one of the Mozart concertos with the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, conducted by Paul Goodwin, and perform a recital of some of the required pieces, selected by the jury: one of the solo violin pieces by Eugène Ysaÿe, a new piece composed for the competition by Claude Ledoux, and four major works of the performer's choice, including one Romantic piece and a piece composed after 1950, all by different composers. The names of 12 finalists will be announced tomorrow evening.

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