Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition Launches Its 2020 Edition

SHANGHAI, Aug 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The third Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition (SISIVC) will take place in Shanghai August 4-25, 2020. The Competition's Organisation Committee announced today that it is officially open for global applications. In celebration of the centennial birthday of Maestro Isaac Stern in 2020, a gala concert has been added to commemorate the longtime friend of China.

Illustrious Panel of Judges

After much anticipation, the Organisation Committee revealed the names of the all-star panel of jurors -- each of the 13 chosen for their specialties in different artistic fields -- ensuring that the contestants will receive diverse and comprehensive examinations and support. Co-chaired by well-known conductor David Stern and violinist and pedagogue Professor Vera Tsu Weiling, the Jury Committee also includes legendary artist manager Martin Campbell-White; violinist and pedagogue Glenn Dicterow; Director of Programs at the Philharmonie de Paris Emmanuel Hondré; violinist and founding member of the Shanghai Quartet Weigang Li; renowned violinist Ning Feng; violinist, pedagogue, and founding member of the Emerson String Quartet Philip Setzer; violinists and pedagogues Hagai Shaham, Joel Smirnoff, Kyoko Takezawa; one of the greatest living string players in the world and Grammy Award-winner Maxim Vengerov; and celebrated cellist Jian Wang.

"We all see that for an international competition, the influence and fairness of its jury is a critical reason for contestants to choose to participate," said Fedina Zhou, Executive President of the Organisation Committee and President of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. "Since its establishment, the Competition has imposed stringent rules -- we disclose the pupil relationship with judges and all scores. The Competition's fairness has been internationally acknowledged in its two previous editions. In fact, making scores entirely public is rarely seen at competitions around the world." Zhou added.

Zhou also stated that the SISIVC's transparency and fairness are not the only factors to its success in such a short time. "It's also because of the selection of the Jury Committee who may guide the path of these young musicians' careers. We make sure that every eliminated contestant has a one-on-one consulting session with the jurors, as do the finalists. They are advised on what can be improved."

The 13 jurors represent the leading figures in their respective professional fields -- they are renowned soloists, indispensable members of chamber ensembles, leaders of the performing arts industry, violinists, and pedagogues. Much was considered with the invitation of the jurors for what a contestant needs in their future development. Participants will get answers from these experts to questions such as "How do I improve technically", "How do I collaborate with other players", "How do I get performance opportunities".

A Tribute to Isaac Stern's Legacy

Open beginning today -- August 6, 2019 -- applicants are required to complete the online application by 23:59 GMT+8 on January 20, 2020 and the video submission for pre-selection by 23:59 GMT+8 on February 28, 2020. The public rounds to be held in Shanghai include the Quarter-Final Round, Semi-Final Round and Final Round. "Twenty-two days in total -- from the press conference to the gala concert -- the contestants will face with the longest-ever competition," said Fedina Zhou. "The length has been increased mainly due to the gala concert. It has been newly created to pay tribute to Isaac Stern who acted as an ambassador for Sino-American cultural exchange."

The early stages of China's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s saw an unprecedented tour by the Western violinist ­-- Maestro Isaac Stern. During his visit, he performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major in Beijing. The documentary From Mao to Mozart, produced and directed by Murray Lerner, a famous American documentarian and experimental film director, chronicles Stern's 1979 tour. It gave insight into a newly open nation, in which the talented music students and diligent teachers particularly impressed audiences. The film became a landmark, winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1981.

With the special anniversary in 2020, the Competition will hold a post-competition gala concert dedicated to the documentary From Mao to Mozart, which will feature performances by some of the laureates from all three SISIVC editions as well as several musicians Isaac Stern coached in the documentary, including one of the jurors, Jian Wang.

"The name of the Competition contributes primarily to its international importance," said Zhou, "Maestro Stern had long used his musicianship to build cultural bridges and he came to China as the first Western musician since the beginning of the nation's reform and opening-up. We developed this competition in a way to honor his legacy and to continue his lifelong dedication to fostering talent and sharing music. So, in addition to the traditional Isaac Stern Humanitarian Award, we decided to present this memorial concert."

Newly Commissioned Chinese Work

As an international violin competition offering the largest monetary award in the world -- $100,000 -- SISIVC is committed to spreading Chinese works to other parts of the world and has created the Best Chinese Work Performance Award to drive these efforts. Following the two Chinese concertos performed in the past two editions -- Butterfly Lovers by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and La joie de la souffrance by Qigang Chen -- the Competition unveiled the newly commissioned Chinese work for the 2020 edition: Violin Concerto No. 2 by Zhou Tian, Artist-in-Residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for the 2019/20 season.

Educated at the Middle School Affiliated to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian has been brilliantly received by the classical music world.  His Concerto for Orchestra earned him a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, the first Chinese-born composer to receive such an honor.

Enthusiastic about Zhou Tian's talent, Maestro Long Yu plans to incorporate his works in many of his upcoming initiatives beyond the violin concerto for the upcoming Competition. He also plans to feature a great deal of Zhou Tian's works in Shanghai Symphony Orchestra's (SSO) opening concert of the 2019/20 season and the third album that Deutsche Grammophon has commissioned with himself and the SSO.

Maestro Yu has commented that Zhou Tian and other contemporary Chinese composers are capable of fusing Chinese and Western cultures into their music languages. He maintains that all Chinese musicians who have a voice on an international stage should be responsible for doing this. Maestro Yu remarked, "It is incumbent on all Chinese symphony orchestras and arts organisations to champion Chinese composers and music, but the key is how and what."

Continued Support to Young Talents

Its 2015 founding makes SISIVC still quite young among its international peers. Yet, it has proved to the world the great support, vitality, and resources a "youngster" can provide to young musicians through its rigorous and consistent rules, and clear and relentless commitment to excellence. Fedina Zhou said: "Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition was born with the internationalization of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The increase of SSO's global influence also helps enhance that of the other. This year marks the orchestra's 140th anniversary, and we will continue to support young artists with our network."

The Competition showcases a persistence and confidence similar to that of SSO. "Since its establishment, we have set the rules and regulations with the highest standard, and generally they won't be changed except for some minor details, such as the choice for the Chinese work and the addition of the gala concert," said Long Yu, "All prestigious competitions do not change their rules. It must be consistent and solid for contestants and judges to refer to."

The consistency enables progressive development of the Competition and thus more opportunities and a firmer platform to further the careers of musicians from around the world.

SSO, together with the Competition, has so far built cooperative relationships with world-class orchestras across Europe, America and Asia, making its extensive resources available to promising contestants with opportunities including arranging concert tours, album recording and introductions to world-class music agencies. For example, recently Shanghai Orchestra Academy, a collaboration between SSO, New York Philharmonic, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, celebrated its fifth anniversary with its commencement ceremony. The event was attended by the presidents of nearly ten orchestras from China and abroad, testifying to SSO's influence in the international music community.

Fedina Zhou commented: "This is proof of the Competition's high quality and strong influence. We are internationally recognised because of our excellent practice. The Competition has been listed every year since its launch in the Guide to Top Competitions by Musical America Worldwide, and this year we've been accepted into the World Federation of International Music Competitions."

For more information about SISIVC, please visit

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Source: Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition(SISIVC)
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