A few days ago we received a complaint from an Asian contestant that a well-known professor on the jury of an international competition in Europe had given top marks to his own son.
Without shame. As a matter of routine.
This happens all the time.
Zakhar Bron is a notorious giver of high marks to his pupils, who are also promoted by his own agency. When they win, so does he – three times over.
Boris Kushnir is another known offender for advancing his own proteges.
Who cares? We do.
Competition fixing is not a victimless crime. At the nepotistic contest cited above, 74 hopefuls had paid their way to a fashionable and expensive European location in the hope of winning a career boost. When the competition is rigged, the money they spent is effectively stolen from them by corruption.
Those who care for young artists, as one Shanghai judge told me he did, must be aware that young artists and their families are being ripped off every time they enter a fixed competition.
There is a simple solution: Judges cannot be allowed to vote for their own pupils. And teachers should be heavily outnumbered on juries by non-teachers.
We commend those competitions which have cleaned up their act: Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Enescu, for instance.
And we will continue to call out every known instance of teacher-pupil collusion, until the practice stops.