Just one Asian and two lone males in the Joseph Joachim semi-finals

Just one Asian and two lone males in the Joseph Joachim semi-finals


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2021

The Hanover violin contest has yielded an interesting set of semi-finalists.

Only one East Asian and two males out of eight on the starting line:

Claire Bourg, 26 (US)
Lorenz Karls, 20 (Sweden/Austria)
Elli Choi, 20, (US)
Javier Comesaña, 22 (Spain)
Maria Ioudenitch, 25 (US)
Minami Yoshida, 23 (Japan)
Sara Domjanic, 24 (Liechtenstein)
Chiara Sannicandro, 23 (Germany)



  • caranome says:

    Yoshida + Choi = 2 East Asians. Choi may be US citizen, but definitely East Asian (most likely Chinese, possibly Korean) in culture, which reigns supreme esp. in re: classical music. Nationality is artificial/ meaningless in this realm.

    • Dick says:

      Yes I agree. And you have somebody with a slavic name coming from Luxembourg, an Italian name coming from Germany, a French name coming from the US, and an Asian name from the US as you said.

  • Peter says:

    If the finalists are chosen on factors that are unrelated to gender or country of origin, and they don’t try to apply quotas so as to look balanced, then you will sometimes get these sort of patterns. In itself this does not suggest anything is wrong. Considering gender as being like tossing an unbiased coin, there is a 11% probability of tossing getting exactly 2 heads out of 8.

  • Anon says:

    Orchestras are racist because they don’t have enough of certain races, but every violin and piano competition is exempt from the same standards?

    • Mark says:

      Anon you’re a racist for using race as a playing card and only seeing race, look in the mirror fool!

      • Anon says:

        It’s a fair question, is it not?
        There have been numerous claims in the media that orchestras are racist. Why is it out of the question to apply the same thinking to competitions?

  • Blitz says:

    There are two asians: Choi and Yoshita.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    There are so many violin and piano competitions these days, it’s hard to even care—as if there’s an entire league of musical performance that pits nations, institutions, teachers head-to-head by way of young players who’ve been trained to the max …to compete and produce the least offensive performance possible.
    The competitions get sponsors witj hours and hours of performances to stream, with literally no guarantee the players will win a thing. One could indeed compare it to sports, without the financial benefit, without the national glory, and with a short-lived 15 minutes of fame, albeit on a small social network stream. Hardly any major winner of these competitions for the past ten years has gone on to anything notable beyond their win alone; they managed to become famous not because they had something to say, but because in a brief moment under certain conditions a subjective jury (more often than not about 50% the same motley crew hopping from one [instrument’s] bowl to another) decides they have no choice but to award a prize to someone in front of them. And the public is supposed to care.

    American Idol found a few stars, same for similar shows in other parts of the world. Yet we have multiple American Idol pageants, weekly, for a minuscule audiences consumption. Who wins? The organizers. Who loses? The art.

    One must wonder how Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, or Brahms would have felt if their music was required repertoire (ad nauseam) for such events. How far we this particular lane of music has gone so off the path in the false name of recognizing artistry. The technical standards are high for the finalists, but few have anything interesting to say because they’ve all played for the same teachers, researched the same video tutorials, and decided the way to make it is to practice safe sets…the same music, over and over again. Much of the audience simply fast forwards to the hotspots of the works or the hyperlinked time stamps of the “jaw-dropping” fingertip acrobatics, or the life-altering blunder. How sad!
    Many of these artists have something to say but strip away their own artistic intuition with the sharp edge of too much outside influence.
    And others don’t know when to stop; they win 1st prize at one of the top competitions and years later try for another one only to end up in the top 6 only; surely the competitions themselves realize the silliness of it all. But silly is a sad word to use. The efforts —an investment of time and money— behind all the players are staggering.
    I suppose being a musician of a certain rank is a desirable profession, and with more people interested —and a fairly unchanged number of fans—it’s very hard to make it any other way? What a pity.

    I miss the days when a player got funding to give a nice debut and launch a career all their own without being pitted against their peers or the lowest common values of an international jury.

    With my architect’s pen and draw book, I know very little about music.

  • Almost the opposite of the Leeds piano finals this year which were 100% male. But who cares? It was a competition. Presumably, they were the best 5 pianists.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    Blah, blah, blah, blah! I’m sick of this recurring argument. My main bone of contention would be that there are no Brits in the line-up. I’m not a fan of music competitions anyway, so part of me couldn’t care less. Let’s not make stories where there aren’t any.

  • John musician says:

    So I guess for you the only thing interesting about competitors is their gender and race?
    That seems to always be the only thing this site cares about when it reports about competitions.

    Not where do they study, what have they done so far, who are their teachers, are they at an agency already, if they are big competition winners in the past.

    If you post something about finalists at least take ten minutes to search who they are. If they are not worth it, then why telling us about this competition is worth the post?
    Race and gender – is the most stupidest thing to care about any finalists in competitions. Who cares?? Unless we are the Olympics…?

  • Leonīds Vigners says:

    Surely there’s a less grotesque way of wording this headline?