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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Musical Experience in Beijing: Menuhin, Wieniawski, and Lee

Last month Beijing had the honor of hosting the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. The competition describes itself as "the world's leading international competition for young violinists" and includes two age groups: "Juniors" who are under the age of 16 and "Seniors" who are 16 to 21 years old. Americans won first prize in both groups and had three prize winners in total. South Korea also had three prize winners and China had two.

I did not become aware of the competition until a friend who was a conservatory classmate of mine and is now a professional musician positively commented on a video recording of a performance. Especially since this friend rarely shares recordings, I was rather curious. It only took a few notes by the junior group 2nd prize winner for me to be captivated. The performance is not just technically impressive, but surprisingly musical for one so young. I am sure a lot of practice was involved, but you cannot play like that without an excellent ear and a lot of spirit. I could go on, but performances are better listened to than described.

Below is Soo-Been Lee from South Korea ripping up Wieniawski's "Variations on an Original Theme in A Major" like I never imagined possible for an 11 year old. I recommend listening even if you do not care about the performers young age:

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