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May 23, 2021
Prize Winners Announced in Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021

Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 Announces Prizewinners

Keila Wakao (United States) Wins Junior 1st Prize
María Dueñas (Spain) Wins Senior 1st Prize

The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 has announced this year’s Prizewinners: 18-year-old Spanish violinist María Dueñas is the Senior 1st Prizewinner, and 15-year-old Keila Wakao, who lives in the Boston area, is the Junior 1st Prizewinner.

This year’s Competition was held virtually, with more than 300,000 views for both the First Rounds and Semi-Finals. All Competition rounds are available on the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 website and YouTube Channel.

Christian Li & Gordon Back

Senior 1st Prizewinner María Dueñas (above), who is from southern Spain, studies with Boris Kuschnir at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna (MUK). About her 1st Prize win, María said, “Dreams make no distinction about nationality or social background. They are there to be fought for and to be reached. As a winner of the Competition in the Senior division Richmond 2021, I´m becoming part of Lord Yehudi Menuhin’s legacy, one of the greatest honors I could ever think of. It's like touching the moon with the tip of my fingers!”   

In the Final Round, María performed Lutoslawski’s Subito; Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, Andante cantabile; and Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole in D minor, Allegro non troppo. María wins USD $20,000, plus a 2-year loan of a golden period Stradivarius violin from the private collection of Jonathan Moulds CBE through the Beare’s International Violin Society and a bow made by Christophe Landon. The 1st Prize is sponsored by the Richmond Area Rotary Clubs. Visit María’s page on the Richmond 2021 website for links to her Competition performances and additional biographical information.

Junior 1st Prizewinner Keila Wakao (above) lives outside of Boston in Chestnut Hill, MA and studies with Donald Weilerstein and Soovin Kim from the New England Conservatory of Music. (She also studied with the late Joseph Silverstein, who accepted Keila as a student when she was six years old.) “When I was 8 or 9 years old, that’s when I started watching the Menuhin Violin Competition,” recalled Keila. “As I got older, I was so inspired by the musicians on the Competition, and I wanted to see myself there, and now, even through this online experience, I’ve learned so much, and it’s been such an exciting process.” 

In the Final Round, she performed Nigun from Bloch’s Baal Shem; Mason Bates’ Bound Away (the piece commissioned for the Competition’s Junior Finals by the Richmond Symphony); and the first movement from Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor. Keila wins USD $10,000, plus a 2-year loan of a fine old Italian violin, sponsored by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London & New York. In addition to the 1st Prize, Keila was also awarded the Junior Composer Award, sponsored by the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation. Visit Keila’s page on the Richmond 2021 website for links to her Competition performances and additional biographical information.

Gordon Back, Menuhin Competition Artistic Director, said he continued to be astounded by the level of performance from the Competitors, and he felt that “all are winners in my view.” He went on to say, “The way they have risen to the challenges posed by an online Competition has been truly inspiring and I want to thank them, their parents, teachers and supporters for all the effort that has gone into their participation. The jury expressed their admiration of the artistry of these young performers, and all confirmed how difficult it was to choose our two first prizewinners from such great performances. I am so proud that Keila Wakao and María Dueñas will represent the Menuhin Competition as their careers develop.”

“Lord Menuhin,” Back added, “was always a pioneer and innovator and he would have been extremely happy with the result of this first-ever virtual Menuhin Competition.” 

Senior Prizewinners
(Click on the Competitor’s name for bio, repertoire and performance videos from the Competition)

  • Simon Zhu, 20, won 2nd Prize, Joint Mozart Prize, and the EMCY Prize; he is from Germany and studies at Julius-Stern-Institut – Universität der Künste in Berlin.
  • Hana Chang, 18, won 3rd Prize and Joint Mozart Prize; she lives in Philadelphia, studies at the Curtis Institute and has roots in Singapore, Japan and the U.S.
  • Karisa Chiu, 21, won 4th Prize and Joint Composer Award; she is from Illinois and studies at the Curtis Institute.
  • Emily Shehi, 22, won Joint Composer Award; she lives in Philadelphia and studies at the Curtis Institute.

Junior Prizewinners
(Click on the Competitor’s name for bio, repertoire and performance videos from the Competition)

  • Edward Walton, 15, won 2nd Prize; he is from Australia and studies with Dr. Robin Wilson, Head of Violin at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne.
  • Hannah Wan Ching Tam, 15, won 3rd Prize; she is from Hong Kong, China, and studies with Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music. 
  • Kento Hong, 14, won 4th Prize; he studies at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division with Dr. Ann Setzer. He lives in New York and has roots in the U.S., Japan and Taiwan. 
  • Boha Moon15, won 5th Prize; she is from South Korea and studied at the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts with Professor Nam-Yun Kim until her recent move to Prague, where she now studies with Josef Špaček.

“I want to congratulate all of the competitors who participated in this year's Menuhin Competition and thank all of the jurors and guest artists who have taken time out of their busy schedules to be part of Richmond 2021,” said Lacey Huszcza, Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony. “Bringing this Competition to fruition as a virtual event definitely took ‛a village,’ and we could not have done it without our terrific partner organizations here in Richmond, who displayed tremendous enthusiasm, creativity and expertise, ultimately providing a fabulous virtual ‛venue’ to showcase and welcome these talented young musicians. We are thrilled that the Richmond Symphony was able to kick off the festivities live in Richmond, and we hope you'll tune in to the Gala Presentation, when we'll be sharing parts of that performance with all of you. As we look forward to future seasons, we look forward to seeing some of this extraordinary talent on our stage, performing with the Symphony, here in Richmond Virginia.” 

The Gala Presentation on Sunday, May 23 at 5pm EDT concludes this year’s Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021, with highlights of the week’s guest concerts and performances by the winners of the Junior and Senior 1st Prize. The program features selections from the Richmond Symphony’s live concerts in Richmond on May 14 and 15, including Angelo Xiang Yu with the Symphony performing Mason Bates’ Bound Away. 

Menuhin Competition Rounds can be viewed on the Menuhin Competition website and YouTube Channel:

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