Next Isaac Stern violin contest to be held in 2018

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The 2018 Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition will be held from Aug 10 to Sept 1 in the Chinese metropolis.

The biennial event, named in honor of the late American violinist who built connections with China in the 1970s, is Shanghai's first world-class violin competition targeted at young musicians in China and abroad.

With a grand prize of 660,000 yuan ($100,000), it offers one of the highest monetary awards among international music competitions.

The inaugural biennial took place in 2016 in Shanghai, with the top prize going to Japanese musician Mayu Kishima.

Yu Long, a celebrated conductor and the artistic director of competition organizer, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, says China is developing rapidly in the global classical music scene, and the competition was launched to "pay attention to the development of young artists", as well as "promoting China's cultural influence in the world".

For next year's competition, applicants in the age range 16 to 32 can participate. Earlier, the start age was 18.

"Quite a number of talented musicians are able to achieve exceptional technique and understanding for music at an early age," says Zhou Ping, director of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. "So, the extension of two years will make a great difference."

The new jury for the competition will be co-chaired by David Stern, son of Isaac Stern, and Chinese maestro violinist Vera Tsu Wei-ling. The 13 jury members include not only well-known violinists and educators but also managers of leading theaters and performing agencies.

"My father cared very much about the arts in China, and Shanghai is a city that responded to his feelings about music," Stern, who is also an acclaimed conductor, says in a video message for the launch of next year's competition.

"The Shanghai Isaac Stern competition is important because it underlines how important it is to be (an) individual, not to play like the others and not even to think about playing better than the others but playing like oneself.

"When a musician is honest, and is playing with all his passion, and all his sincerity, then his musicality comes through. That's what my father felt and that's what this competition represents."

The competition highlights not only the personal playing technique of artists but also their ability to play in a chamber ensemble.

The semifinal contestants for next year will collaborate with the popular chamber group Shanghai Quartet.

Musicians will be required to perform a Chinese piece in the final round of the 2018 contest, accompanied by SSO.

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