The Violin Channel recently caught up with Professor Bernard Lanskey, Dean of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, in Singapore and Artistic Committee member of the upcoming 2021 Singapore International Violin Competition.
What is the main mission for hosting the Singapore Competition – and what do you hope can be achieved?
"From the beginning, there has been a strong desire to evolve the deeply-embedded violin tradition here in Singapore, while also showcasing Singapore’s growing musical landscape and representing the region globally with a major international competition of first rank.
We hope to discover and promote fresh talent (in violin, as well as in new compositions through our Commissioned Work!), and to be a focal point for artistry both in Singapore and internationally.
Now that we are in the third edition of SIVC, we continue our drive to bring together musical talent from around the world and key Singaporean arts institutions in a celebration of musical excellence.
We hope that it can be a meaningful platform for all involved (candidates, the public, organizations, the profession), and the success of the first two editions gives us greater confidence for 2021.
We invite all to join us and witness the competition process.
All live rounds are open to the public and broadcast online – you can get a glimpse of the competition experience in the below video"
How important do you feel competitions are for launching a young musician’s performance career?
"Competitions provide an excellent platform for emerging musicians to perform in different contexts (venues, orchestras, environments) and be heard by wider audiences.
They can serve as a motivation and challenge to grow further, as well as provide a launchpad for further career opportunities (e.g. concert engagements, artist management).
This is not just about those who 'win' but indeed all who take part!
SIVC provides the opportunity to perform in three of Singapore’s leading venues and with Singapore’s national orchestra, before a distinguished international jury panel – all highly significant experiences for a young musician seeking a performance career.
A very special new element we have for 2021 is a chamber music component, where finalists perform a Mozart piano quartet with SIVC guest artists Albert Tiu, Zhang Manchin and Qin Li-Wei.
This is a distinctive collaborative opportunity which we hope can further showcase and inspire our candidates as performers, communicators and collaborators."
There are many competitions today and many 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners, what do you feel are the differentiating elements that propel some young musicians to a successful and sustainable performance career?
"At the core, I believe there are three elements: identity, talent and passion.
The first brings a distinctive voice, the second brings a capacity to express that voice and the third brings the tenacity to build and sustain a career.
All three affect more than the relationship with music, repertoire and instrument.
They are also about interactions with people individually and collectively (audiences, other professionals including musicians and managers) and navigating the career and lifestyle.
Competitions serve as a mirror in which people can test these capacities, and we have seen these elements present and flower in previous candidates, both those who won and those who participated."
What initiatives do you have to support the ongoing careers of your laureates?
"Our laureates have gone on to stellar achievements and are ones to watch in the industry.
One such example is our 2018 winner Sergei Dogadin, who went on to win the XVI Tchaikovsky International Competition and will return to perform a recital as part of SIVC 2021.
In addition to the platform we provide, our laureates stand to receive international concert opportunities in countries including Singapore, China, Japan and India.
All six finalists each receive a fine violin loan, including a Guadagnini, Montagnana and Stradivari, from the Rin Collection for three years."
How important is fairness and transparency in your voting process? What initiative do you have in place to ensure an unbiased result?
"Fairness and transparency are key in our process - as indeed also is confidentiality - so that jury members can give their honest, uncompromised opinion.
This leads to some interesting and delicate issues of balance and of trust, and not everyone will always agree on what is best but we believe it is important to be clear of the rules of competition and to stay true to them.
We work hard to bring together a mix of jury members from different backgrounds and approaches, each with a distinctive identity and reputation.
We offer the candidates opportunity to interact with the jury afterwards to hear their feedback first-hand and in private, and through it all we do everything we can to ensure clarity regarding our processes and procedures."
How did you go about selecting your jury?
"I would like to acknowledge our Artistic Director and Chair of Jury, Qian Zhou, for her leadership and vision in spearheading the SIVC and bringing together our jury, which in 2021 comprises Salvatore Accardo, Martin Beaver, Martin T:son Engstroem, Koichiro Harada, Barnabás Kelemen, Cho-Liang Lin, Mihaela Martin, Petru Munteanu, Joel Smirnoff, and Vera Tsu Weiling.
Our jury bring diverse international experience, and their expertise spans a range of artistic backgrounds, including solo and chamber performance, education, production and direction, and conducting.
We are honoured and excited to be able to work with them in the coming competition."
If someone wants to apply for your 2021 competition, how should they go about this?
"Learn more about the competition and apply by the 15th of September 2020 at www.singaporeviolincompetition.com, and stay connected with us through our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
For viewers, all competition rounds are open to the public and will be live-streamed, so do join us!"