May 15, 2019
Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 Announces Schedule
The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 has announced the full schedule of competition rounds, concerts, masterclasses, and galas, via livestream from Richmond’s WCVE Community Idea Stations. Together with the winner of the Junior 1st Prize at the Menuhin Competition Oslo 2010, Kerson Leong, who is in Richmond as a guest artist with the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Menuhin Competition’s Artistic Director Gordon Back has traveled to Richmond to make this live announcement from Community Idea Stations headquarters, which can be viewed here:

The biennial Menuhin Competition is notable for its tradition of traveling to a new location with each iteration, thus allowing participants and their families to immerse themselves in the local culture for the length of the Competition, and for residents to experience the Competition’s legacy and the prodigious global talents the Competition attracts.  Recent editions of the Competition have been held in Geneva (2018), London (2016), Austin, TX (2014), Beijing (2012), Oslo (2010), and Cardiff (2008). While in Richmond, competitors will participate in a variety of outreach activities with local institutions, further connecting and strengthening the camaraderie between the Competition and the greater Richmond area.

In May 2020, the City of RichmondCommunity Idea StationsRichmond Symphony, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University join forces as official Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 co-hosts to present each exciting event, including competition rounds, concerts, masterclasses, and panels, which not only showcase the extraordinary 44 competitors, but also the expert jury, the renowned Richmond Symphony, and many guest artists including the Richmond Symphony Youth OrchestraRegina Carter Quartet, fiddlers and pedagogues Mark and Maggie O’Connor, the Sphinx Virtuosi, and many celebrated Menuhin Competition alumni.  Concert highlights include the world premiere of a new work for violin and string orchestra by Richmond native Mason Bates, brilliant programs with selections by Shostakovich, Sarasate, Rimsky-Korsakov, Beethoven, Bloch, Schumann, Piazzolla, Jessie Montgomery, Michael Abels, and many others.

Programs will be held on each of the venerable universities’ campuses, in the stunning Carpenter Theater at the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts, and in performance spaces throughout Richmond, encouraging violinists to explore the beautiful, historic city, and engaging the local communities to participate actively as audience members.

“Virginia is thrilled to have the international Menuhin Competition come to Richmond in May of 2020,” says Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “We are excited to host this exceptional group of young violinists who will showcase their talents through education and engagement activities for students in the Richmond Region and through live-streaming of their performances to children throughout the Commonwealth. In addition to their musical talent, they bring with them an international perspective that can be so beneficial in creating meaningful dialogue amongst Virginia’s students.”

The application period for the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 is now open and accepting entries through October 31, 2019.  The jury comprises violinist Pamela Frank(Chair), violinist and conductor Joji Hattori (Vice-Chair), violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, violinist Ray Chen, violinist and entrepreneur Aaron Dworkin, violinist Ning Feng, cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, pianist Anton Nel, and violinist Soyoung Yoon.

Click for video of Christian Li, joint winner of the Junior 1st Prize at the Menuhin Competition Geneva 2018


Thursday, May 14, 2020, 7:30PM
Opening Gala Concert
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Richmond Symphony
Jahja Ling
, conductor
Chloe Chua, violin *
Christian Li, violin **
Soyoung Yoon, violin ***

Shostakovich Festive Overture in A Major, Op. 96
Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28 **
Sarasate Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25 *
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19 ***
Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34

The Opening Gala Concert kicks off the Menuhin Competition in spectacular fashion, with violin solos performed by three previous winners of the 1st Prize and an outstanding juror, alongside celebratory orchestral works. Chloe Chua and Christian Li, joint winners of the Junior 1st Prize from 2018, and Soyoung Yoon, 2020 juror and winner of the Senior 1st Prize in 2002, are conducted by guest conductor Jahja Ling and accompanied by the Richmond Symphony, which closes the concert with Rimsky-Korsakov’s effervescent and virtuosic Capriccio Espagnol.


May 15-18, 2020, 10AM-1:30PM & 2:15PM-5:30PM
Competition Rounds
Modlin Center for the Arts, Camp Concert Hall, University of Richmond
May 15: Junior 1st Round, Day 1
May 16: Junior 1st Round, Day 2
May 17: Senior 1st Round, Day 1
May 18: Senior 1st Round, Day 2

Join our all-star jury in their search for the next generation of great artists when 44 of the best young violinists under the age of 22 from across the globe take to the stage. Each young musician will perform a recital of works for solo violin and violin with piano accompaniment. The repertoire covers three centuries including works by Bach, Telemann, Paganini, Rode, Mozart, Schubert, Franck, Ravel, Poulenc and Kreisler, as well as each Senior competitor’s choice of a recently composed work for solo violin and freestyle improvisation for the Juniors. Audience may come and go in between individual recitals


Friday, May 15, 2020, 7:30PM
Geneva Junior Prizewinners’ Concert
Thomas Dale High School
Chloe Chua
, violin
Christian Li, violin

Enjoy an evening of musical mastery with two former prizewinners, 13-year-old Chloe Chua and 12-year-old Christian Li (joint winners of the Geneva 2018 Junior 1st Prize) accompanied by the Menuhin Competition’s Artistic Director, Gordon Back.


Saturday, May 16, 2020, 7:30pm
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Spring Concert
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra
Daniel Myssyk
, conductor
Ning Feng, violin

Richmond’s premiere youth ensemble, the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, performs Sibelius’s ever-popular Violin Concerto with virtuosic violinist and juror Ning Feng, who was a Senior prizewinner of the Competition in 2000, alongside other works from the classical canon conducted by Daniel Myssyk.  


Sunday May 17, 2020, 7:30pm
Jurors Showcase
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall, W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University
Pamela Frank
, violin *
Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin **
Joji Hattori, viola ^
Ralph Kirshbaum, cello º
Anton Nel, piano ˟
Gordon Back, piano ***

Beethoven Sonata in A Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 69º ˟
Bloch Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Hassidic Life, B. 47 ** ***
Schumann Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44 * ** ^ º ˟

Five star jurors of the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 are joined by Artistic Director Gordon Back, in a powerhouse evening showcasing chamber music at its very best.  The program celebrates the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and the 140th anniversary of Ernest Bloch, then culminating with the five jurors performing the brilliant Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat Major.


Monday May 18, 2020, 7:30pm
Regina Carter Quartet
November Theatre, Virginia Repertory Center

The American jazz violinist Regina Carter has a career that crosses genres. Recipient of some of the top musical awards in the country, including the MacArthur “genius” award, she has been widely hailed for her mastery of her instrument and her drive to expand its possibilities. This special concert featuring Regina Carter and her quartet is presented at the historic Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre. In collaboration with the Richmond Jazz Society. This concert is in memory of Joe Kennedy, Jr., considered by many to be the “father of jazz” in Richmond.


Tuesday May 19, 2020, 10:00AM-1:30PM & 2:20PM-5:30PM
Junior Semi-Finals
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall, W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University

Giving the young competitors from all over the world an opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of their playing, this round features chamber music collaboration in Dvořák’s Terzetto, performed with previous prizewinner Timothy Chooi and Barry Schiffman, and a Beethoven sonata with piano. Each semi-finalist will also play their own choice of a virtuoso work and a recently composed work for solo violin. Audience may come and go in between individual recitals.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 7:30PM
Kreutzer Sonata and the Sonata Mulattica
Perkinson Recital Hall, North Court, University of Richmond
Ning Feng
, violin
Anton Nel, piano

Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata, Violin Sonata No. 9, Op. 47
Rita Dove Sonata Mulattica : A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play (excerpts)

To honor Beethoven’s 250th centenary, arguably his greatest Sonata for piano and violin, “Kreutzer Sonata” will be performed interwoven with readings from U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove’s collection of poems “Sonata Mulattica: A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play”, published in 2009 about the life of Afro-European violinist George Bridgetower (1778–1860).  Bridgetower was the original dedicatee of Beethoven’s sonata, as well as the violinist at the premiere. After the premiere performance Beethoven and Bridgetower had a falling out, causing Beethoven to change the dedication to Rodolphe Kreutzer.


Wednesday May 20, 2020, 10:00AM-1:30PM & 2:20PM-4:30PM
Senior Semi-Finals
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall, W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University

Nine Senior semi-finalists will play for their place in the coveted Senior Finals. This round sees each violinist collaborate with guitarist Chaconne Klaverenga in Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango” and give world premiere performances of a new commission by Mark O’Connor. Each semi-finalist will also perform the 1st movement of a Mozart concerto including a new cadenza composed by each semi-finalist, as well as a virtuoso work of their choice with or without piano. Audience may come and go in between individual recitals.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 7:30PM
Mark and Maggie O’Connor
The Byrd Theatre

The American fiddling legend Mark O’Connor comes to the Byrd Theatre with his wife Maggie as the violin duo highlights Virginia’s own fiddling roots through their music. The program offers a broad and interconnecting collection of American music through violin/fiddle solos and duos, with additional music by Mark O'Connor on guitar.


Thursday May 21, 2020, 10:00am-12:00 noon, 12:30pm-2:30pm & 3:00pm-5:00pm
Academic Learning Commons, Virginia Commonwealth University

Watch our jury of internationally acclaimed performers guide the next generation of outstanding musicians. Each juror will lead a two-hour open masterclass at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Thursday, May 21, 2020, 7:30PM
Sphinx Virtuosi Showcase
Modlin Center for the Arts, Camp Concert Hall, University of Richmond
Sphinx Virtuosi
Joji Hattori,
 violin *
Elena Urioste, violin **
Jessie Montgomery Starburst for string orchestra
Walker Lyric for Strings

Piazzolla Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas [The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires] **
Svendsen Romance, Op. 26 *
Perkinson Alla Burletta, 3rd movement from Generations: Sinfonietta No. 2 for Strings
Michael Abels Delights and Dances

The Sphinx Virtuosi is one of the United States’ most dynamic professional chamber orchestras. Comprised of 18 of the nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, primarily alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition, these artists come together as cultural ambassadors to reach new audiences. As Artist-in-Residence at the Menuhin Competition, this concert showcases their mission of advancing diversity in classical music by presenting varied programs of works by composers of color alongside well-known masterpieces.  This concert will include a pre-concert talk at 6:00pm with Aaron Dworkin, juror as well as Founder of the Sphinx Organization, and Dr. Ronald Crutcher, President of the University of Richmond.


Friday, May 22, 2020, 3:30PM
The Danger of a Single Story: The Importance of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Arts and their Role in Society
Location to be announced

Aaron Dworkin, 2020 juror, violinist, and founder of the Sphinx Organization, leads a panel discussion facilitated by University of Richmond president Dr. Ronald Crutcher. The role and importance of diversity in art – not only in music, but also in dance and visual art – will be discussed, featuring an audience Q&A session as well.  


Friday, May 22, 2020, 7:30PM
Junior Finals
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Sphinx Virtuosi
Five Junior finalists

Mason Bates New commission for violin and string orchestra (world premiere)
 The Four Seasons, Op. 8, Nos. 1-4

The Finals of the Junior section in the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020. Five of the world’s best young violinists under the age of 16 will compete for one of the coveted awards. Each finalist will lead one of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from the violin and perform a new commission for violin and string orchestra written by Mason Bates.

Audience members will also have the opportunity to vote for a finalist to be awarded the Audience Prize.  The prizewinners will be announced at the end of the evening.


Saturday May 23, 2020, 7:30pm
Senior Finals
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Richmond Symphony
Andrew Litton
, conductor
Four Senior finalists

Lalo Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra in D minor, Op. 21 (without 3rd movement)
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61        
Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22       

Witness the culmination of the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020. Four of the world’s best young violinists perform their choice of violin concerto from the Competition repertoire in the final stage of their journey to be awarded one of the sought-after prizes.

Audience members will also have the opportunity to vote for a finalist to be awarded the Audience Prize. The prizewinners will be announced at the end of the evening.


Sunday, May 24, 2020, 5:00pm
Closing Gala Concert
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Richmond Symphony
Sphinx Virtuosi
Andrew Litton
, conductor
Junior Competition winner*
Senior Competition winner**
Ray Chen, violin***

Michael Abels Delights & Dances 
Vivaldi Concerto from The Four Seasons, Op. 8 * (Concerto movement to be announced**)
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 (1st movement) ***
De Falla Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat

The Closing Gala Concert brings the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 to a rousing conclusion, featuring the Junior and Senior winners, inspirational juror and previous winner of the Senior 1st Prize Ray Chen, the Sphinx Virtuosi, and the Richmond Symphony with guest conductor Andrew Litton. The joyful Three-Cornered Hat Suite draws the 2020 Competition to a thrilling close.


About the Menuhin Competition Trust:
The Menuhin Competition is the world’s leading international competition for young violinists, held every two years in a different city (most recently in Geneva in 2018, London in 2016, Austin, Texas in 2014, Beijing in 2012 and Oslo in 2010). Founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983 the Competition attracts hundreds of entries from over 40 countries, choosing only 44 of the world’s very best young violinists to participate. The Competition discovers, encourages and nurtures exceptionally talented young musicians from all corners of the globe under the age of 22 to develop into the next generation of great artists.

As one of Yehudi Menuhin’s most valuable legacies, the Competition continues to uphold his status as a cultural ambassador and true world citizen by creating an exceptional family atmosphere of learning and exchange. Collaborative in its spirit, the focus is placed on participation and learning rather than winning the 1st Prize.

Creating a stimulating environment in which talented young violinists may learn and grow has always been and will remain at the heart of the Menuhin Competition. This is not limited to the Competition period and the Menuhin Competition Trust strives to provide prizewinners with a variety of performance opportunities to develop their musical careers.

About Richmond Symphony:
Celebrating its 61st Season in 2018-19, the Richmond Symphony is the largest performing arts organization in Central Virginia. The organization includes an orchestra of more than 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus and more than 260 students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra programs. Each season, more than 200,000 members of the community enjoy live concerts and radio broadcasts. The Symphony also provides educational outreach programs to over 55,000 students and teachers each year. The Symphony was recently named one of 21 American orchestras selected as a leader in orchestra innovation by the League of American Orchestras through its Futures Fund Initiative. The Richmond Symphony is partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit for more information.

About our Partners:
City of Richmond:
Community Idea Stations:
University of Richmond:
Virginia Commonwealth University:

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