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The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 Is A Go

The "Olympics of the violin" will finally be coming to Richmond this May. However, it will be in a virtual format. (Photo: Andrew Logan for VPM)

It’s known as the “Olympics for the violin.” And, like the real Olympics, the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021, has had to make some adjustments -- in this case, moving to an all virtual format.

Forty four of the world’s best young violinists, including one from Virginia, will participate in the event named after Yehudi Menuhin. Competition events will be hosted by the Richmond Symphony. It was scuttled last year due to the pandemic. All but one of the same competitors from last year will be returning.

“I'm really excited about hosting the competitors,” says Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Richmond Symphony. “And while we're disappointed that they will not be here in person, we're really excited about presenting and being a part of the first fully virtual Menuhin Competition.”

Huscza says the Competition will benefit not only Richmond’s cultural community but many local K-12 students who will be able to meet competitors virtually through the “Adopt a Performer” program. The series will allow students to follow, learn about and interact with competitors. Performers will also virtually visit classrooms to talk with students as well as play short pieces.

“So it's a really fun way of still having this virtual program. But allowing young students in Richmond to connect to these incredibly talented violinists from around the globe,” Huscza says.

Besides the “Adopt a Performer” program, the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 will include virtual masterclasses, meetings between competitors, guest artists and jurors, and panel discussions. 

The Competition

Since this year’s Menuhin Competition will be virtual, violinists will have to submit video recordings of their performances for judging. To help the participants, organizers are providing assistance with equipment and recording spaces for those who need it. All entries must be done in “one take,” with no edits from previous performances. 

According to a press release, “the required repertoire for the Competition was adjusted to account for the lack of orchestra and chamber ensemble and in the case of Senior First Rounds, to accommodate a number of competitors who did not have access to a piano for accompaniment due to lock-down restrictions.”

Rounds are divided between junior and senior competitors. 

The Competition still includes two new commissions for solo violin: Mason Bates’ Bound Away for Junior finalists, and a new work by Mark O’Connor. 

During the almost two week event, Competitors’ pre-recorded entries will be shown during the Competition dates and winners announced at the end of each round. 

Virtual Events

The virtual 2021 Competition will include performances from guest artists, including the Sphinx Virtuosi, Mark & Maggie O’Connor, and others. Chloe Chua and Christian Li, joint winners of the Junior 1st Prize from 2018, will each perform a solo recital as part of the Competition and violinist and juror Angelo Xiang Yu will perform with the Richmond Symphony in the Gala Concert.

Scheduled during the event is a panel discussion about diversity in the arts, which had been included in the original 2020 Competition schedule. Ronald Crutcher, president of the University of Richmond and a professional cellist, will lead the panel which will include juror Aaron Dworkin, founder of the Sphinx Organization.

The competition runs from May 14th through the 23rd. 

The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 will be produced, streamed and televised by VPM. Other co-hosts include the City of Richmond, Richmond Symphony, University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

To hear more about some of the 44 young violinists, check out VPM’s Podcast “Making Menuhin,” found wherever you get your podcasts.


Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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