Sunday, September 21, 2014

IVCI wraps up with an awards ceremony, heaping honors upon gold and silver medalists

Everyone who headed into the Scottish Rite Cathedral Sunday afternoon knew the major results already. The six finalists had been placed in order after their final International Violin Competition of Indianapolis performances Saturday night, and announced about an hour after the concert ended.

The purpose was not only to celebrate their achievement, but also to distribute further prizes recognizing excellence in specific performances over the competition's 17-day course. Moreover, there were lots of plaudits to be distributed, mainly by executive director Glen Kwok, to myriad volunteers and a few short-term hires that enabled the three-person full-time staff to bring off the quadrennial competition.

Jury president Jaime Laredo saluted the participants, who he said (with slight hyperbole) came "from every corner of the earth," with the admission: "You really made it impossible for us." Nonetheless, the well-established judging procedure, which enjoins jurors not to discuss participants, basing rankings on the compilation of individual scores over the competition's three rounds, yielded results worth defending, though some online carping was soon to be encountered about the fact that first place went to a Laredo student.

Here are the basic awards announced Saturday night upon completion of the romantic/post-romantic concerto final round and bestowed Sunday:

Jinjoo Cho, gold medalist, 26, South Korea; $30,000

Tessa Lark, silver medalist, 25, United States; $15,000

Ji Young Lim, bronze medalist, 19, South Korea; $10,000

Dami Kim, fourth-place laureate, 25, South Korea, $7,000

Yoo Jin Jang, fifth-place laureate, 23, South Korea, $6,000

Ji Yoon Lee, sixth-place laureate, 22, South Korea, $5,000

The new  gold medalist was also honored for concerto performance.
Cho picked up another $5,000 for best performance of a romantic or post-romantic concerto, based on the way she played the Erich Korngold Violin Concerto Friday night with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She also earned $1,000 for best performance of a Bach work and $500 for placing third in the "best Paganini caprice" category; two Paganini caprices were required in the preliminary round, which began Sept. 7. (The top prize for a Paganini performance went to semifinalist Nancy Zhou [$1,000]; the second-place award was presented to semifinalist Ayana Tsuji [$750].)

Lark, the highest-ranked American in the competition since Ida Kavafian also won the silver medal in the first competition (1982), won two special awards: for best performance of the commissioned required work, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Fantasy for Solo Violin, and best performance of a Eugene Ysaye solo sonata. Her reprise performance of No. 5 was among the musical selections presented as part of the awards ceremony Sunday. Ysaye was the most influential teacher of Josef Gingold, Indiana University distinguished professor and founder of the competition.

Fifth-place laureate Yoo Jin Jang won the $1,000 award for best performance of a sonata other than Beethoven for her playing of John Corigliano's Sonata in the semifinal round. The award for best performance of a Beethoven sonata went to fourth-place laureate Dami Kim, shared with pianist Nelson Padgett ($1,000 each).

In the preliminary round, a two-movement Mozart sonata was required of all participants. The award for the best performance went to bronze medalist Ji Young Lim and pianist Rohan De Silva ($1,000 each).

The $2,500 award for best performance of a classical concerto (all by Mozart this year) went to Kim for the Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219 as played Thursday at the University of Indianapolis with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra accompanying.

Cho also received a gold-mounted Tourte-Voirin model Berg bow from Michael F. Duff and the use for four years of the 1683 ex-Gingold Stradivarius violin.

The 10 semifinalists not passed on to the final round received $1,000 each.

Other recognitions included the Alice M. Ross Award for  Distinguished Volunteer to Maureen Purcell, who was  credited helping to solve problems "ranging from wardrobe failures to water leaks."

At the reception that followed, Cho told me that her competition highlight was her performance of the Korngold concerto, because "I felt relaxed by then, and I could just play it without feeling any stress."

I missed that performance, but Cho had shown few signs of being nervous or in any sense constrained in her earlier appearances. Her performance of the Zwilich Fantasy was one of the most passionate I heard, freely imagined and given the sort of abandon that made it seem almost improvised. Her first Prokofiev sonata had as much individuality and brooding intensity as any of the non-Beethoven sonatas I heard.

Her performance of Paganini's eleventh caprice in the preliminary round was my second favorite in the abundant renditions of that piece, behind semifinalist Stephen Kim's.  She seems an artist fully formed and capable of extending the reputation of the IVCI over the next four years.

[Photo credit: Denis Ryan Kelly Jr.,]

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