In Geneva, Switzerland, for the first time in its history, the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists, unveils a rich 11-day programme of events for audiences and participants alike. Founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983, the Competition is one of the most important events in the calendar for young violinists. Brave and innovative, the event is as much a festival as a high-level competition.
As well as the competition rounds – welcoming 44 violinists, all under the age of 22, from all over the world and chosen from amongst hundreds of candidates – there are masterclasses, participatory activities, talks, collaborations and a range of complimentary concerts bringing together many world-class orchestras, ensembles and musicians.
Among the highlights is an Opening Concert with Marin Alsop conducting the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, semi-final and finals with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra respectively, appearances by leading artists such as Julian Rachlin, jury members Maxim Vengerov, Joji Hattori, Itamar Golan, Soyoung Yoon, Lu Siqing and Ilya Gringolts, as well as concerts with previous winners, jazz events and more in collaboration with many of the leading cultural and broadcasting organisations of Geneva.
A truly international competition
Five major moments take place in the majestic Victoria Hall, beginning with an Opening Concert on 12 April which brings together the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, conductor Marin Alsop, Yesong Sophie Lee (winner of the Junior 1st Prize of the Menuhin Competition London 2016) and Henning Kraggerud (member of the jury). The next day Joji Hattori, Soyoung Yoon and Lu Siqing, all jury members, play with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and their cellist in residence, Estelle Revaz.
The semi-finals and finals also take place at Victoria Hall, with major orchestras. The Junior Final (up to the age of 16) is in the company of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra (20 April), with the competitors performing a work by a finalists of the Composition section of the Concours de Genève 2017.
For the Senior Final (for ages 16 to 22), the finalists join the UK’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Julian Rachlin (21 April). The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Julian Rachlin return for the Closing Gala Concert (22 April) and share the stage with Junior and Senior winners, as well as jurors Maxim Vengerov, Soyoung Yoon and Ilya Gringolts.
During the 11-day festival, the young musicians perform alongside their peers in front of an international jury, composed of exceptional musicians – Pamela Frank (Chair of the jury), Joji Hattori (Vice-Chair), Itamar Golan, Ilya Gringolts, Henning Kraggerud, Lu Siqing, Josef Špaček, Maxim Vengerov and Soyoung Yoon – who will support the young artists throughout the Competition.
The first rounds take place at the Arts Centre of the International School of Geneva, the semi-finals at the Geneva Conservatory of Music.
Other major classical concerts
Winners of the Menuhin Competition London 2016 – Ziyu He (18) and Yesong Sophie Lee (14), who respectively won the Senior and Junior Senior 1st Prizes in London in 2016 – return to Geneva to give a concert at the Arts Centre of the International School of Geneva (16 April), providing a rare chance for audiences and competitors alike to see these two rising stars united.
The ‘Jury Recital’, an unprecedented concert bringing together the three internationally acclaimed artists Ilya Gringolts, Josef Špaček and Itamar Golan from the jury, takes place at the Geneva Conservatory the following day (17 April).
Cultural exchange and teaching beyond the Competition
In addition to offering ten masterclasses given by the members of the jury, the Menuhin Competition offers participants a rich programme of events, including teaching time and cultural exchanges. The goal of the Competition is not only to give competitors the means to forge links with local musicians but also to meet a new audience and deepen their musical understanding and experience. Young violinists have the opportunity to collaborate with the Cultural Activities of the University of Geneva, the Orchestra of the Conservatory of Music (as part of the Musical Marathon of the Conservatory), to perform at the Hospital of Geneva (with students of the Haute Ecole de Musique) and, thanks to the Schools & Culture programme of the Department of Public Instruction, to visit schools. In addition, through creative workshops, open houses with local luthiers, and the creation of a cycle of documentary films on Yehudi Menuhin and music in general, young prodigies will benefit from their participation in the Menuhin Competition to bond in a stimulating atmosphere of sharing and exchange, and a collaborative spirit, with a focus on participation and learning rather than competition.
Festival spirit and openness to the widest possible audience
In collaboration with important Geneva and French speaking Swiss institutions, the Menuhin Competition offers many special and unexpected events in different places. Demonstrating again that it is so much more than a high-level competition, many of the planned events aim to build bridges with the community at the heart of the event.
Other concerts include:
RTS Purple Night: Egopusher + Peter Broderick, 18 April, La Graviè
In collaboration with the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation and Radio Television Suisse Tobias Preisig, a violinist and composer from Zurich, and Peter Broderick, American pianist, violinist and composer, are both international virtuosos with a repertoire oscillating between jazz and pop. They play together for the first ever Purple Night organised in French speaking Switzerland. These evenings conceived by the SSG SRG, aim to forge links between different musical styles and to link Swiss artists with international artists in an informal setting, where audiences can be introduced to new musical genres.
Jazz meets classics: Roby Lakatos Ensemble (gypsy violin, 19 April, Alhambra
In collaboration with the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation Having captured the attention of Yehudi Menuhin in a Brussels café in the 1990s, Roby Lakatos was described by the Daily Telegraph as “the fastest violin player in the world.” Lakatos is a direct descendant of János Bihari (1764-1827), who inspired Liszt and Brahms, and is equally impressive in the world of classical music as he is in the worlds of jazz and Hungarian folk.
Pianist Addison Frei, winner of the Piano Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival this summer, will be the opening act. More events will be added to this programme and will be announced in early October 2017.
Closing date for online applications to participate is 31 October 2017.
Announcement of the 44 candidates taking part in the 2018 Menuhin Competition will be in January 2018.