Almost 50 competitors will gather for 11 days in Geneva, Switzerland, next year to be part of what has been nicknamed ‘the Olympics of the violin’. The 18th edition of the biennial Menuhin competition, which attracts hundreds of young applicants from around the world, will select just 44 violinists for the competitive rounds. Previous prize-winners to achieve world acclaim include Tasmin Little, Nikolaj Znaider, Ilya Gingolts, Julia Fischer, and more recently, Ray Chen, Chad Hoopes, Stephen Waarts and Callum Smart.
It will be the first time the festival-style competition, founded by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1983, will take place in the country. Previous host cities include London (2016, celebrating Menuhin’s centenary), Austin (2014), Beijing (2012) and Oslo (2010).
Gordon Back, chairman of the Menuhin Competition, said: “I am thrilled that the Menuhin Competition is coming to Geneva in 2018. As a dynamic city devoted to supporting creativity in the arts, I look forward to bringing together our jury, competitors and the public to make the most of Geneva’s world-class concert halls, and all the city has to offer”.
Menuhin was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1992 in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to cultivating friendship among peoples through the medium of music. The competition follows his ethos of collaboration and makes space for musicians to build a network of friends early on in their careers, by playing together, meeting the jury, and taking part in festival events as part of an ambitious cultural mediation programme.
Each edition of the event makes the most of teaching and cultural exchanges, with numerous concerts, masterclasses and short events included in the programme suitable for audiences of all ages. The competition acts as an important cultural ambassador, developing a stimulating atmosphere of exchange and sharing in a collaborative spirit, focusing on participation and learning rather than victory.
Named partners for the competition so far are Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, The Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Conservatory of Music of Geneva, Haute école de musique de Genève, and Centre des arts de l’Ecole Internationale de Genève.
Pamela Frank, chair of the Jury, added: “The Menuhin Competition is truly unique in the world: the spirit is that of a festival, not a “contest”, and is ultimately a celebration of the violin. I am honoured to be part of such an extraordinary organisation, one that engenders humanity, artistry, and the sheer joy of violin playing. It reminds us all that the real winner is the music!”
Frank is supported by Joji Hattori of Japan as vice-president, while fellow jury members include Ilya Gringolts, Josef Špaček, Maxim Vengerov, and Soyoung Yoon.
Online applications are open until 31 October. Tickets along with the full programme will be unveiled in September 2017. Details of the long-listed 44 participants will be revealed in January 2018. The competition takes places from 12 – 22 April 2018.