Marianne Piketty on What Makes the Mirecourt International Violin Competition Unique
With applications open until July 1, the French competition welcomes violinists from all nationalities born after November 4th, 1997
Organized by the Jeunesses Musicales de Mirecourt, the Mirecourt International Violin Competition will be held from November 4-12, 2023, in Mirecourt and Thaon-les-Vosges, France.
Applications are to be received by July 1, 2023. The competition consists of a video pre-selection, 2 qualifying rounds, and a final round. All the rounds will be open to the public.
The 2023 jury will comprise Christian Altenburger (Austria), Nora Chastain (USA), Hu Kun (China), Alissa Margulis (Russia), Mihaela Martin (Romania), Lavard Skou-Larsen (Brazil), and Marianne Piketty (France).
The Violin Channel recently caught up with French violinist Marianne Piketty, Artistic Director of the Mirecourt International Violin Competition, to learn more about its history and vision.
Tell us about the Mirecourt International Violin Competition. When was it founded and by whom?
The Mirecourt International Violin Competition was founded in 2010. I thought a mythic town like Mirecourt should have an international event. At that time, I did not realize the challenge it would be: Mirecourt is legendary for its bow and violin making but it is a small town!
What was the initial vision behind the competition?
We tried to create an event that would make sense for the town, the public, and the candidates — an event that would provide young talents the possibility to perform recitals, play concerti with orchestra, and meet outstanding teachers and performers. Our competition cannot be compared with ones such as Queen Elisabeth, Tchaikovsky, or Long-Thibault, which are run in major cities with much more significant financial means. Mirecourt exists because of a very strong commitment to the town, its mayor, its volunteers, and its host families. Each one of us involved is wanting to offer the best conditions to the young candidates for an incredible week of music.
Our goal is that each candidate can view their stay in Mirecourt as a positive experience, with the opportunity to perform in front of a nice audience, to grow and discover new repertoire, and to meet fellow travelers, artists, violin makers, and bow makers.
How did that vision evolve over the years?
The initial vision did not change much but definitely grew. At each edition, we try to find new partnerships to offer more opportunities to the candidates for the development of their careers.
What is the significance of holding the violin competition in a city known for its iconic violin-making?
If we wanted the competition to be permanent, it was essential to create an event that would make sense for the town of Mirecourt, promoting its history and its present life, while also highlighting outstanding French bow and violin makers who were trained in Mirecourt. The competition is a place of meetings between artists, performers, and craftspersons who are meant to grow side by side.
How does this reflect in the prizes the competition offers?
Two special prices reflect this commitment. For each edition, a bow is commissioned to a French bow maker. As you know, the quality of a bow can make a huge difference for a performer. Bows by Catherine Barroin, Sylvain Bigot, Arthur Dubroca, Emmanuel Carlier, and Gabriel Pasquier were already offered.
Since 2021, a modern violin is lent for two years. Bogidar Vermand was the first violin maker to join us and we are deeply grateful to David Wiedmer for the loan of one of their violin for this coming edition.
We hope that both of these prizes will help the winners in their careers and will build long terms relationships between young performers and the makers.
The repertoire asks for a large amount of music by French composers. Can you tell us why this is important to the competition?
It is an essential pillar, alongside discovering new talents and bringing together musicians, luthiers, and bow makers. French music cannot be restricted to Franck, Debussy, and Ravel sonatas, as there is such a wealth of incredible repertoire. Over the years, I discovered that artists know contemporary composers of their own country quite well, but very little from other countries.
We make lists of French sonatas and French contemporary pieces to help discover and promote this music. We have heard outstanding performances and interpretations of them, and it is such a joy when a member of the jury or a candidate goes on to record or perform these works. We have two special prizes for that as well.
Can you tell us about some of your past winners?
Most of our finalists and winners are accomplished artists, prizewinners of other international competitions, soloists, chamber musicians, or members of major orchestras. To name a few, David Castro-Balbi, winner in 2010, Irène Duval, finalist in 2010, Shuichi Okada, winner in 2012, Nathan Mierdl, Concertmaster of The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and member of the Trio Metral, Yuna Ha, member of the Esmé quartet, Yuliia Van, Roman Kholmatov, and in 2021, Qingzhu Weng.