When your students win a major competition

From our diarist Anthea Kreston:

One of the biggest joys of being a musician is the feeling of being in the middle of a sphere of knowledge. We play with and teach (and are taught by) people of all ages, backgrounds and ability. One day, we can be rehearsing with a legend and the next mentoring a student. All experiences are as rich as one another – each feeds on the other.

What joy it was to receive the news this week that both first prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition were won by our Master Groups at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, where my Quartet teaches a select handful of Master Groups in addition to 40 undergraduate and graduate chamber groups. The Marvin Piano Trio and Goldmund Quartet both took the grand prize trophies this week, and I couldn’t be more proud.

I remember well those competition years – the grueling hours, the relentless input and fine balance between being a student and a professional. Trying to scrape together a living while studying and competing. Both exhilarating and demoralizing, this is what our teeth are cut on. Sink or swim.

I was able to catch up with Christoph Vandory, violist of the Goldmund, today. Here are his thoughts.

Anthea:
What do you hope to gain by entering competitions?

Christoph:
First of all, doing a big competition is a ideal goal to focus on and a great challenge. Putting together big repertoire and getting it to your best in a short period of time is the best way to learn and grow as an ensemble. And we hope, that by winning we would not only gain international attention and credibility but also independence as artists. Being able to tour the world, playing in great cities and venues, and being able to share our music with people from all over the world is one of the greatest privileges we can imagine.

Anthea:
Which competitions have you done so far, and do you plan on doing any more?

Christoph:
We’ve won 2nd prize in the London competition and a special prize in ARD.
And we have done local or smaller competitions such as Deutscher Musikwettebwerb, where we won the scholarship, or The Schoenfeld Competition in Harbin, China, where we won first prize. Currently we are not planning on doing any more competitions.

Anthea:
How was your experience in Australia different from other competitions?

Christoph:
The Melbourne Competition was super well organized and well attended by audiences. The publicity they get in Australia is remarkable!

Anthea:
Do you play differently when you perform and compete?

Christoph:
Our goal is it to always play as if it would be a concert. We want to play for the audience, and not focus on the judges and the competition. That’s the only way we can perform freely. But of course sometimes there’s some tension that comes up in a big competition!

Anthea:
How do you handle nerves?

Christoph:
We all do it very differently. Some of us don’t have any issues, some more. But what helps us all is that we are a group of friends, we’ve known each other for so long and have been playing together for eight years now. If one gets nervous on stage, the others notice and we handle it together live on stage.

Anthea:
What has your experience with the Artemis changed you?

Christoph:
Working with the Artemis Quartet has opened a new dimension of making music. Helping us have a great sense for the flow of an entire piece instead of getting lost in details sometimes is one the things all members of the quartet have shown us.

Anthea:
Does competition bring out unexpected things emotionally in your group?

Christoph:
Well, it can be a very stressful situation, but we’ve known each other for so long, nothing really surprises us anymore. The final of a big competition, is one of these moments that awakes all your senses!

Anthea:
Where do you see this taking you? Has it changed your future?

Christoph:
We’re hoping to come back regularly to Australia to perform, it’s such an amazing country, and the people are so warm hearted and supportive!! And of course, we hope that’ll give us opportunities in other parts of the world too!

Anthea:
Give us an idea of how hard you had to work to get to this point.

Christoph:
It’s been an incredibly long journey. The success at this competition is the result of 8 years of constant work. We’ve overcome many difficulties over the years, and being on top in a moment like that is just mind blowing

Anthea:
Did you have time to see any of Australia? What did you think?

Christoph:
We had half a day before leaving, our host took us to a beautiful place in the woods outside Melbourne. It was incredible!! Seeing that impressive nature, that looks like rain forests and it’s wildlife was amazing!
We really hope to come back soon and we’ll plan in some time for traveling!

Anthea:
Do you have time to rest now, or do you jump right back into your schedule?

Christoph:
Luckily we will have a few days to relax, before we meet again for the last run of concerts before our summer break! 🙂

Anthea:
Congratulations on a well-deserved win – and see you soon!

Christoph:
Absolutely – see you very soon!

share this

  • Marg says:

    Great to read of your connection to the competition winners after hearing some of the performances on our national radio. You need to come down here with them for a visit Anthea! We really are super hospitable people in Australia and love our classical music!

  • >