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Sweet Jury Duty: Wrapping Up the Leopold Mozart Violin Competition

Augsburg, June 8, 2019, Leopold Mozart Violin Competition—After a week with five long days of trials, amounting to some 35 net hours of intense Mozart-, Paganini-, Bach-, and Mendelssohn-listening, the 10th Leopold Mozart Violin Competition is in the books. It will conclude tonight with the Prize Winners’ Concerts.

In yesterday’s finals, three candidates out of initially 24 in the first round and then a dozen in the second, got to play two concertos with the Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra – the Bavarian RSO’s little sister symphony. One concerto had to be Mozart, the other a romantic concerto out of a list of the usual warhorses. As luck would have it... [continue reading on ClassicsToday]

And our official Critics' Prize Statement here. The winner took about a friendly quarter hour of pleasant consideration and discussion and a couple espressos to decide upon. Everyone had a vague idea of a favorite going in and very soon Simon Wiener emerged as the obvious consensus choice:

"It has been a pleasure to hear 24 talented young violinists perform at the Leopold Mozart Violin Competition. As the critics among the members of jury, we are privileged to bestow a Critics’ Prize to one participant.

Hearing the musicians we were faced with a fascinating variety of ways in which a performance can be persuasive and enlightening. Not all of these qualities are necessarily those that ensure success in a traditional competition situation. This is where the Leopold Mozart Competition comes in: its uniquely varied repertoire and the diverse composition of its jury open up opportunities by which musicians less conventionally suited to competitions can thrive. Honorary mention, as an exemplar of that approach, should be made of the semi-finalist Issei Kurihara, whose internality, quiet confidence, subtle touches, and distinct individuality did much to suggest great and intriguing depth.

Our choice for the Critics’ Prize also combines many qualities and great hopes that pricked our ears in special ways. His consummate passion for conversing through music, his musical and expressive intelligence, his unique approach to the composers and his choice of repertoire made him an easy choice to rally around. We look forward to hearing much more of him in the future as we confer the Critics’ Prize to Simon Wiener.

And given that we made a special mention of Issei Kurihara, I might also point out that the performance of Hsin-Yu Shih (Taiwan, 1999), who did not make the second round by the smallest of margins, was suggestive of a very considerable musical personality. I hope to hear more of it; I thought she had well stood out of the crowd in her own way.

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