by Mike Telin and Daniel Hathaway
The first round of the Oberlin Cooper International Violin Competition got underway on Saturday, July 20 — the first step in the process that begins with twenty-four young violinists aged 13-18 and will ultimately bring three finalists together for concerto performances with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra next Friday evening, July 26 at Severance Hall. On Friday, we spoke with jury members Gregory Fulkerson and David Bowlin and four of the competitors — Gallia Kastner, Kristie and Karen Su and Jieming Tang — to gain their insights into what makes music competitions worthwhile and to learn a bit more about what makes four of the young players tick (links to audio at the end).
Oberlin violin professor Gregory Fulkerson, who is chair of the competition, is excited about the field of competitors. “We could not be happier with the quality of this year’s contestants,” he told us in his studio at the Oberlin Conservatory. “These are the future stars of the violin world.”
We asked David Bowlin, assistant professor of violin at Oberlin, why it’s important for young musicians to play in such competitions. “Good question, because on the surface it’s easy to think that competitions are something that brings out the worst in us, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. If students go in with the idea that they are entering a competition as a challenge to themselves – to learn repertoire, to perform in front of an audience, to perform in front of a jury from whom they have the opportunity to receive feedback — the intensity of a competition makes it powerfully educational.” [Read more…]