Shanghai opens Isaac Stern contest with questions over its jury

Shanghai opens Isaac Stern contest with questions over its jury


norman lebrecht

August 15, 2016

The jury for the first Isaac Stern violin competition in Shanghai, which opens today, includes three judges with conflicting interests.

Zakhan Bron (pictured) is renowned for choosing his own students as winners and Boris Kuschnir, also suspected of favouritism, chaired the Joseph Joachim competition in which the Russian winner had been his student; the same young man is now competing in Shanghai.

Elmar Oliveira recently opened his own violin competition.

The results will come under close scrutiny.


zakhar bron


  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Well, perhaps one can consider it this way: Mr Bron & Mr Kuschnir are caring personalities concerning their (former) students. Is that not great?

  • Milka says:

    It is great providing the contestant performs in such a way as to suit the ” caring personalities” dreary approach to the art of violin playing .
    They are quite good bs artists ,Kuschnir the more polished .
    One suspects they both would suffer cardiac arrest if they heard a truly
    interesting player.

  • Emanuel Borok says:

    So what do you propose? Exclude teachers from judging, maybe their prominent former students too? Or how about relatives or good friends of the contestants? It is impossible to create a totally potentially unbiased group of judges.

    Any ideas how it should be done to insure fairness for all?

    Perhaps the formula of Dancing With The Stars where the audience votes and those votes sometimes override the opinions of the jury is to be considered and tried.
    Think of it, if the audience is not excited about a soloist he is not invited back. I have seen this many times in my 40 year career…

    • Steven Holloway says:

      Some competitions have already excluded teachers from juries. See the Sydney International Piano Competition re efforts made to reduce to a minimum favouritism in juries. There’s a post and a link thereto on SD somewhere or you can Google.

    • Ross says:

      I propose that major violin and piano competitions don’t invite prominent teachers, especially those who are likely to have students entering the contest.
      This is very easy to do. Anyone could easily make a list of some dozen names.

    • tati says:

      yes, exclude teachers from judging a competition when their own students are in it. Why such sarcasm? Tchaikovsky competition did it. ( not perfectly successfully though)

      • Milka says:

        Teachers in these competitions have a way of repaying favors if it all works to their advantage .The competition you mention is laughable if one expects any sort
        of honesty .

      • Schlagzeuger says:

        TATI– In my not so humble opinion, the TCHAIK Violin section was an unmitigated disaster…

    • Anita Wailer says:

      Are you aware that they are taking tens of thousands of dollars bribery from students in order to just allow them to compite? And those who are not their students but give bribes to win are in addition to giving money even blackmailed by Bron to study with his asisstents if they want to win!
      This is not only corruption it is illigal and immoral! They are criminals!

      • Anita Wailer says:

        Lina Yu the Shanghi competition judge was heard saying after the first day of the competition’s preliminary round: “It’s settled than, we have the six finalists lined up…”

  • Milka says:

    You come from that competition world and know well there is no fairness in it .Unless the technique is so faulty as to excludes a player, much has to do with who you know
    and who you suck up to …it is called” networking ” It is one hand washing the other. You know very well that in most competitions the players perform to what they think the judges will approve . Do you think that for a moment if one varied from the limited knowledge displayed by Bron or Kuschnir you would get their vote …not likely .
    As for Dancing with the Stars didn’t one Chopin competition reflect your thought ?
    The first who should be excluded as so called judges would be the teachers- that should be a given, which would result in the disappearance of half these competitions .
    Then those that still want these competitions, they would do it for the “love ” of the
    art form meaning all expenses are out of your own pocket – that’ll take take care of the other half of the art lovers .Can just hear the stampede for the exits . Then for the contestants no money but the offer of giving recitals in various cities and thus a chance to build an audience based on their talents alone .Each contestant would have to give up the concerto crap and give a recital of their own choice before an invited audience.But that will not be “thar’s money to be made in them thar hills” so we get the Shanghai Stern baloney .It never ends …………

  • La Verita says:

    The great piano teacher Rosina Lhevinne NEVER sat on competition juries. When her students won competitions (and many of them did), she wasn’t there to help them out in any way. Lhevinne had a level of integrity that no longer exists.

  • Schlagzeuger says:

    Many months ago the Shanghai Competition directors, organizers, whomever, were actually soliciting individual violinists on…… FACEBOOK !! And I mean, posting on their walls, messaging, … Yikers!

  • Vlad says:

    This seems entirely appropriate for an event named after Issac Stern.

  • Robert Levin says:

    Nathan Milstein told me that only once did he serve on a jury for a major competition. He said the following, “the winner thinks he is the best and the loser thinks he is the worst, neither of which is necessarily true.”