MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Aya Yoshida Wins the Zemlinsky Prize

The 27-year-old Japanese composer Aya Yoshida has won the 2019 Zemlinsky Prize for Composition, which has been presented to young composers from around the world since 1990 by the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

Along with a cash award of $30,000, Yoshida will receive a major new orchestral commission for dance, to be given its world premiere by CCM’s Philharmonia Orchestra and Ballet in December 2020, which will also record the piece.

Aya Yoshida, a native of Kobe who is based in Amsterdam, was chosen for Double Face, a ten-minute orchestral piece. The Danish National Symphony Orchestra premiered the work in 2016.

From the press release:

The title [“Double Face”] is open to interpretation, but like
many of Yoshida’s pieces (e.g. “Polka dots,” “Tone on Tone Check,” “Pointed toe”), this work also has a fashion resonance. “Double face,” meaning reverse clothing, is a term commonly used in the rag-trade.

Second prize of $20,000 went to Tomasz Skweres, 34, a Polish composer living in Vienna, for his piece “über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne…” Third prize of $10,000 was awarded to 24-year-old Joel Jäventausta, a Finnish composer based in London, for his piece “Cantus.”
More than 200 compositions were submitted for consideration before five finalists were shortlisted in September by an international panel of leading composers: Colin Matthews (London), Missy Mazzoli (New York/Chicago), Iris Ter Schiphorst (Vienna), and Carl Vine (Sydney). The shortlisted works were then submitted anonymously to a final judging panel, which included the Dean of CCM, Stanley E. Romanstein, and CCM Philharmonia Conductor, Mark Gibson.

Missy Mazzoli said Yoshida’s winning entry “showed true originality, combined with skillful orchestration and a well-balanced approach to form…This daring work really communicated a mini-world of fantastic orchestral colors.” Carl Vine praised it “as redolent with intriguing musical gestures and textures.” Colin Matthews said, “Aya Yoshida’s piece came out on top from a very impressive line-up” and noted “it was good to see the unanimity of choice between a panel of composers all with very different stylistic personalities.”

Expressing her gratitude, Aya Yoshida said: “After my opera in 2017, I have been somehow dreaming of composing for ballet in my 20s or 30s, so I am thankful, humble, surprised and really happy to have the opportunity. Music is a collection of movements; the texture of the sound itself and also the physical gestures of the musicians. I am looking forward to exploring the connections between ballet and music in my new piece for CCM Philharmonia Orchestra.”

Filed under: competitions, music news

Artistry and Humanity at the 2019 Concours Musical International de Montréal: Violin Edition

My report on the 2019 Concours Musical International de Montréal:

The 2019 edition of the Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM), devoted this year to the violin, started off with added pressure – for the organisers, that is. Because of the convergence of several of the most high-profile violin tournaments elsewhere this spring – from Auckland to Augsburg, from Sendai to Brussels – the recently completed CMIM also had to compete with the competitions.

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Filed under: competitions, music news, violinists

1st Prize Winner in Montréal: Hao Zhou

Hao Zhou

Hao Zhou for the first time playing the brand-new violin and bow handmade by the Maker’s Forum — gifted to him as first prize winner

Heartiest congratulations to U.S. violinist Hao Zhou, who won first prize at the 2019 Concours musical international de Montréal, as well as the Radio-Canada People’s Prize. And to second prize winner Johanna Pichlmair, who played the Brahms concerto, and Fumika Mohri, who took third prize for her account of the Sibelius concerto.

Mr. Zhou’s prize includes $30,000 from the City of Montreal, the Joseph-Rouleau career development grant of $50,000 from the Azrieli Foundation, a violin and bow handmade by the Maker’s Forum (valued at $20,000), an artist residency at Canada’s Banff Centre for the Arts, and a concert engagement at the New Generation Festival.

The distinguished jury was presided over by Zarin Mehta and included Pierre Amoyal (France), Kim Kashkashian U.S.), Boris Kuschnir (Austria), Cho-Liang Lin (U.S.), Mihaela Martin (Romania), Barry Shiffman (Canada), Dmitry Sitkovetsky (UK/U.S.), and Pavel Vernikov (Israel/Switzerland).

Here is Hao Zhou in his prize-winning performance last night of the First Violin Concerto by Dmitri Shostakovich (with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Alexander Shelley):

Here is Johanna Pichlmair’s soulful Brahms Concerto:

And the remarkable Fumika Mohri plays the Sibelius here:

Filed under: competitions, music news, violinists

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