Reine Elisabeth violin finalists: half are from Far East

The Brussels competition has selected 71 finalists from 172 video applicants.

16 are from South Korea, 15 from Japan, 6 from China.

Here’s the list:

Australia 1
Mme Emily Sun

Austria 1
Mme Johanna Pichlmair

Belgium 1
Mme Sylvia Huang

Bulgaria 1
Mme Liya Petrova

Canada 2 + 2*

Mr Timothy Chooi (pictured)
Mr Daniel Kogan*
Ms Shannon Lee*
Ms Melody Yuan

China 6
Mr Kwan Yeung Brian Choi
Mme Yiying Jiang
Mr William Lee
Mr Peter Lin
Mme Fanglei Liu
Mr Runyin Zhang

Czech Republic 1*
Mme Olga Šroubková*

France 5 + 1*
Mme Clémence de Forceville
Mme Irène Duval
Mme Anna Göckel
Mr Fedor Rudin*
Mr Brieuc Vourch
Mme Eva Zavaro

Hungary 1
Mme Júlia Pusker

Ireland 1
Mme Mairead Hickey

Japan 15
Mme Misako Akama
Mr Mizuki Chiba
Mme Akiyo Fujiwara
Mme Kaori Furusawa
Mme Karen Kido
Mme Seina Matsuoka
Mme Michiru Matsuyama
Mme Yoshie Mio
Mme Yukari Ohno
Mr Seiji Okamoto
Mme Yukiko Uno
Mr Ryosuke Suho
Mme Naoko Tajima
Mme Yuna Toki
Mr Arata Yumi

Kazakhstan 1
Mme Meruert Karmenova

South Korea 13 + 3*
Mme Jung Min Choi
Mme Yun Jae Choi
Mme Hyunjoo Choo
Mme Jueun Jeong
Mme Gyehee Kim
Mr Siwoo Kim*
Mr Woo Hyung Kim
Mme Yoerae Kim
Mme Kunhwa Lee
Mme Yoo Jin Lee
Mme Christine Lim*
Mme Hyun Jae Lim
Mme Kyungah Oh
Mr Kyumin Park
Mme Ji Won Song
Mme Elly Suh*

Netherland 1
Mme Hawijch Elders

Romania 1
Mme Ioana Cristina Goicea

Russia 3 + 3*
Mr Daniel Kogan*
Mr Sergey Pospelov
Mr Fedor Rudin*
Mr Dmitry Serebrennikov
Mr Dmitry Smirnov
Mme Olga Šroubková*

Switzerland 1
Mme Sumina Studer

Ukraine 2
Mme Eva Rabchevska
Mr Vasyl Zatsikha

UK 1
Mme Mathilde Milwidsky

USA 7 + 4*
Mme Stella Chen
Mme Hannah Cho
Mme Laurel Gagnon
Mr Luke Hsu
Mr Siwoo Kim*
Mr Stephen Kim
Mme Shannon Lee*
Mme Christine Lim*
Mme Ashley Yeehyun Park
Mme Elly Suh*
Mr Max Tan


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  • If you count finalists from the USA etc who appear to be of East Asian origin, there are 49 out of 71.

    • It is 50 if you count the representative from Belgium. Is anyone surprised? Students form East Asia go to the US to learn while middle class Americans seem to be more interested in something to whine about. As the American critic Harold Bloom said many years ago, the culture of grievance, now magnified by social media.

  • What is happening to European violinists? Is it that there are no more students study the violin or their levels are too low to be admitted?

  • News Flash: More people study music seriously in East Asia than anywhere else. In fact, the pressure to work hard and have discipline often comes from a competitive nature, which is why many succeed in auditions and other areas where experience in competition gives one an edge. Consider the schooling system in these modern Asian cities. The completion is fierce at every level.
    What is so discomforting is that there are so many competitions, winning one hardly means anything anymore. QE is still significant. I still try to follow the career of the brilliant Nai-Yuan Hu (1985 First Prize).

    Also—this tally might need a bit more nuance. A time least one of the names listed has appeared in other competitions representing Hong Kong, and another Taiwan (or is Taiwan-American). While I prefer to avoid a heated political discussion, the point should not be missed.

  • Did anyone complain when Jews from Imperial Russia dominated?

    (Well, someone probably did, human nature being what it is.)

    But the music world was well rewarded by Heifetz, Millstein, Zimbalist etc.

    Let’s look forward to a group of brilliant violinists from elsewhere.

    • No. No comparison.

      “Did anyone complain when Jews from Imperial Russia dominated”

      Google: World War II, for glimpse of what troubled Jews in Europe, and the preceding pogroms in imperial Russia. Countless Jews were killed in this timeframe. In the process you will find why so many Jews had taken up music, particularly the violin, and why they were limited in which major cities and with which teachers in Russia they were permitted to study. There’s simply no comparison to today.

      Today’s competition winners are more often than not from relatively wealthy families. They have the funding to buy a nice instrument, a couple nice bows, and money for pricey tuition, as well as plane tickets to hop around the world taking lessons to make up for the lost creativity of the millennial generation. They have gadgets to help their intonation, and regularly check in on their Instagram accounts for likes.

      No. The violinists Of 1915-1990, from Szigeti, Elman, Heifetz, Neveu, Oistrakh, Haendel, Morini, et al, will not be replaced by any so-called “brilliant” violinists of today. A few standouts today, yes, from various parts of the world, but there’s no Josef Hassid or Christian Ferras, or Michael Rabin.

      I think Lebrecht here is drawing attention to the prominence of competitors from East Asia. They clearly meet the qualifications and make the choice to compete. It is in many ways a microcosm of the changes in this musical world.
      Western parents often just let their kids have fun…the moment the kids decide they want music career, the focus changes.

      • Who says anything about “replaced”? With rare exception of truly great talents such as Hassid, Heifetz, Menuhin and maybe a handful of others at most, violin virtuosi of the past are being often equaled and possibly sometimes eclipsed by the best violinists of recent and current generations. No one is being “replaced”, but that is not the point. The point is making beautiful music with respect for the text and good musical taste while communicating the music’s emotional and intellectual content to listeners.

        • With all due respect, I have trouble taking your response seriously.

          These Violin virtuosi of the past have not be eclipsed by anyone under 75. There are indeed some great players, and knowledge of Bach and aspects of performance practice have increased, but you must be kidding. No one plays Shostakovich Concerto like Oistrakh, Korngold like Heifetz, Bartok like Stern, Sibelius like Ferras, etc.

          There’s no need to list any of today’s major soloists for comparison. They might be mathematically more in tune but they just don’t have the power to raise the hair on your back and give goosebumps; it’s a cerebral experience now. Do you think anyone who listened to Heifetz or Stern or Haendel would have initially described their performances as “so clean” and “loud” and “in to it” (laugh), so “correct and accurate”?
          What emotionless description

      • The choice to compete. I totally agree with this. This is not about Asians having a greater work ethic, or more talent or more appreciation for classical music – all of the nonsense that comes from readers when Norman posts about this.

        It has to do with the decison to COMPETE. Period. Competing is not necessarily indicative of talent or love of classical music. It is an indication of money and means and willingness to enter into a competitive arena musically.

        Asians are really good at this competing thing. They apparently see winning competitions as an important achievement. Europeans and Americans not so much. They CHOOSE not to compete. This doesn’t mean Asians are better, they’re just more interested in competitions.

        And I have to say honestly that without a well balanced field of candidates, competitions are getting really boring to follow. Why not just move all competitions to South Korea and let the Asians fight it out amongst themselves there. Leave the western world out of it.

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