Richmond to host 2020 Menuhin Competition

Richmond has been selected as the host city of the 2020 rounds of the Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists, an event that brings together young artists from around the world for what is billed as “the Olympics of the violin.”

Named for Yehudi Menuhin (1916-99), the eminent violinist, conductor and educator, the competition is open to violinists aged 22 and younger. This year’s competition, held in Geneva, drew 44 participants from 17 nations, culled from 317 applicants.

A panel of nine judges, headed by the American violinist Pamela Frank, named the 18-year-old Armenian violinist Diana Adamyan as the winner, with Nathan Mierdl, a 20-year-old Frenchman, in second place, and South Korea’s Hyunjae Lim, also 20, placing third.

The competition and festival, established by Menuhin in 1983, is staged every two years. Recent host cities have been London (2016), Austin (2014), Beijing (2012), Oslo (2010) and Cardiff (2008).

Announcement of Richmond’s winning bid came at the final concert of the Geneva competition. Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney and representatives of cosponsors of the city’s bid from the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Symphony and Commonwealth Public Broadcasting were present for the announcement at Geneva’s Victoria Hall.

The Richmond event will run from May 14-24, 2020, with solo recitals, chamber-music programs and orchestral concerts at venues including the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Energy Center, UR’s Modlin Arts Center and VCU’s Singleton Arts Center.

Events will be transmitted worldwide via online streaming, and some components will be recorded for telecasts on Commonwealth Public Broadcasting’s WCVE, potentially rebroadcast on other US and international outlets.

The Richmond Symphony will be the primary accompanying orchestra. The Sphnix Virtuosi, an ensemble composed of 18 young African-American and Latino musicians, will accompany the competition’s Junior Finals and participate in performances and workshops in local public schools.

Gordon Back, the Menuhin Competition’s artistic director, described Richmond as “the perfect location” for the event, citing the city’s “incredibly supportive community and its superb orchestra” as key factors in its selection.

“We hope that this festival will attract new visitors to our region and provide yet another indicator to the world that of our city’s status as a thriving cultural center,” said David Fisk, executive director of the Richmond Symphony.

“We are especially excited,” Mayor Stoney said, “for the opportunity the competition will provide to our aspiring young musicians in Richmond Public Schools to rub bows with the best, and perhaps inspire the next Yehudi Menuhin.”

Sponsors of the 2020 festival will need to raise $1.5-2 million to finance the event, tapping corporate and individual donors and foundations for support.

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